Leicester City shocked the footballing world last season by winning the Premier League title in May. They started the campaign as 5000-1 outsiders for the league but held off challenges from Arsenal and Tottenham to secure their place in football folklore.
With Premier League glory comes automatic qualification to Europe’s elite club competition, the Champions League.
The Foxes were drawn into a group with FC Copenhagen, FC Porto, and Club Brugge and after first two games, they sit atop the group with six points. So far, so good.
But how far can Leicester actually go in the Champions League this year?
Since the start of the current campaign in August, they haven’t mounted the kind of title defence expected from reigning champions. Claudio Ranieri’s men currently sit 12th in the league, with eight points from seven games.
They’ve only won two league games so far this term, beating Burnley and Swansea, but fell to losses against Manchester United, Liverpool, and Hull City.
However, their Champions League form has been entirely different. Two wins from two games against Club Brugge and Porto have put them in the driving seat in Group G.
A win against Brugge may have been expected, but three valuable points against Porto, the strongest team in the group, was less expected.
However, it could be suggested the Foxes have been handed a soft group. Of course, every game in the Champions League is a big one that carries added pressure, but the English champions avoided most of the big boys.
They should qualify from Group G and are in pole position to do so. But qualifying as group winners would be a bonus for Ranieri’s men. From the day the teams were drawn back in August, the manager has always been clear about his team’s underdog status.
It looks as if he will be back in Monaco for the round of 16 draws that will take place sometime in December.
If the Foxes are to progress as group winners, they will be handed a draw against one of the teams that finished runners-up in their group. It’s fair to say that the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, some of Europe’s top clubs, will finish top of their respective groups which means that Leicester will likely avoid them.
But in other groups, winners and runners up are less clear cut. Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are battling it out to win Group A, while Tottenham and Monaco are fighting for pole position in Group E. Therefore, a tight draw is still very much possible.
This means Leicester will have to take heart from last season. Time after time they defied the odds and caused major upsets, and were ultimately rewarded at the end of the campaign.
If they can do that again, then there is no reason they can’t send shockwaves through Europe once again and reach the latter stages of the competition.
The Foxes may have lost N’Golo Kante, who moved to Chelsea in the summer, but they still have star quality. Talisman Riyad Mahrez is still stunning defences across the country and seemed to spark life into Leicester’s Champions League opener.
Of course, there is a slight chance that the Foxes will win the Champions League, but after last season, there’s no reason why they can’t get past the group stages, and perhaps even make the last eight.
However far they get, though, it will surely be one great adventure for their fans, who finally have a taste of elite club football.