Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri: Only our results are different in Europe and in the league, not our performances

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri: Only our results are different in Europe and in the league, not our performances

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri believes that results, and not performances, are the only thing that differ between the Champions League and the Premier League - despite their hugely contrasting fortunes in each competition.

Charlie Malam

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri says there are no differences in the performances of his side in the Premier League and the Champions League.

The Foxes can seal their progression to the last-16 of the latter on Tuesday when they host winless Club Brugge at the King Power Stadium.

Just a point against the Belgian champions would be enough to secure their place in the first knock-out round of the Champions League, in what is their maiden campaign in the competition.

Yet Leicester, who became the first team ever not to concede a goal in their first four games after a goalless draw at Kobenhavn, have endured drastically different fortunes on the domestic stage.

The reigning English champions have just three victories to show from their opening 12 league games, resigning them to a lowly 14th place in the table.

Saturday’s defeat at Watford was also the first time they have lost back-to-back league games since February 2015, when they were rooted to the bottom of the table before embarking on a miraculous recovery to stay in the top-flight.

Yet despite the contrast in results, Ranieri is confident that their performance levels are the same in both competitions – and that only the results are different.

Ranieri: 'Only the result is different, not the hunger or determination'

The Italian said in his pre-match press conference at the King Power on Monday that his team "try to do our best in every situation in every match" but that they "don’t think the  Champions League is totally different to the Premier League." 

Rather, he said Leicester's focus is on "the next match every time" and continued: "Now there is an opportunity to go top of the group and it would be a fantastic achievement."

Ranieri referred to his previous comments back in September when he suggested that their target was simply to get qualify for the knockout stages of either the Champions League or the Europa League.

But he acknowledged that they "have the chance" to progress in Europe's top-tier competition which would be "another fantastic achievement for the club, for the fans and for everybody."

The Leicester manager added: "Our fairytale continues in this way. We made something special last season and we are doing something special also this season.

"It's the first time in our lives we are playing in the Champions League and maybe we will go through to the knock-out stages. It is fantastic."

The 65-year-old's team have endured constrasting form, but Ranieri added that he doesn't believe "there is a big difference" between their performances in Europe and those in the league.

"The difference is the result, but not the hunger and the determination," he said. "It is the normal Leicester whether we win or we lose. Only the result is different."

Ranieri also insisted that he isn’t thinking as far ahead as to what benefit it would be for his team to finish top of the group, declaring himself "only focused" on Tuesday's clash with Brugge.

He added: "I respect Brugge a lot. I can’t believe that they have zero points. It’s unbelievable because they play well. They create good chances and have good players. It’s strange."

Leicester manager calls upon his team to react from league setbacks

The manager feels it is even "similar" to the Foxes' situation in the Premier League, because the Belgian champions are "six or seven games without losing" in the Belgian First Division A.

Ranieri warned: "I don’t think it will be an easy night because the number say that it’s not possible that Brugge will finish this group without a point. I’m very careful about this."

He feels that it is "important" for his team to "react again" as he mentioned that his team's results prior to Champions League games have all been disappointing, with four defeats and one draw, insisting: "We have to react again and that means our character is very strong."

He also lamented the "very frustrating" lack of "balance" between their form in their two main competitions, though he acknowledged that he "wasn't expecting a fantastic start" to the campaign.

"Of course I'm very happy with our Champions League matches but the balance is not so good," he said. 

Injured striker Islam Slimani not ready to feature 

Ranieri also issued an update on the fitness of his squad ahead of the visit of Brugge, explaining that striker Islam Slimani is "not ready" and unavailable, because he "didn't train" with but that for the rest of the team, "everybody is ready."

First-choice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel remains out after fracturing his hand in their last European game in Denmark earlier this month, while young left-back Ben Chilwell and midfielder Nampalys Mendy are also absent with ankle problems.

On Demarai Gray, who was not pictured in training after dropping out of England Under-21s duty with a calf problem, Ranieri added: "Yes, he’s okay. There was a lot of traffic today and he arrived a little late but he trained. Only Slimani and of course Mendy and Ben. The others, everybody is okay."