You cannot help but admire Leicester City. I dont think there is any football fan out there who doesn’t wish them well. And while we focus on our own favourites, Leicester City too have managed to stay above our horizons for another season.
Last season they shook everyone. Dismantled teams at their own grounds and came back victorious with all 3 points. They beat Chelsea 2-1 in December, they beat Spurs 1-0 at White Hart Lane in January, They took down Liverpool and Manchester City in February and while teams usually slip up and give up their lead, Leicester held on for dear life. It is almost always the case with one team or the other in the Premier league. They get off to a great start and find themselves in the top 4 after 10 games. But slowly they wilt away and we start seeing the familiar faces of Chelsea, Manchester city, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United leading the pack up top.
No one took Leicester seriously and figured they would slip up eventually at some point in the season. They all said, a team fighting relegation in the previous season does not have what it takes to win the league. We all waited for them to slip up but that didn’t happen at all. They raced away from the top dogs of the league and won the title convincingly.
If the pervious season was one of fairytales, the current season is the exact opposite. It has been an absolute nightmare for Leicester. They find themselves just 3 points clear of the drop zone. For a team that has remained largely unchanged, except of course the departure of N’golo Kante, this seems unbelievable. The fiery Jamie Vardy has been a lonely figure up top and hasn’t been in his prolific goal scoring form from last season. The start of the season had serious links for Riyad Mahrez joining the likes of Arsenal but that didn’t work out and he seemed largely unhappy with that. The rock solid defence has been taking an absolute beating and no one can understand why.
Finally it came to a point where we had to witness the ugly side of football. Their iconic manager Claudio Ranieri, who won them their first league title ever, was relieved of his duties as a manager. No one could imagine it could come to this.
This season however, things are looking good for them on an entirely different side of the spectrum. I am of course talking about the Champions League. You would still have to rub your eyes to believe seeing Leicester City play Champions League football, while the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea are missing european football. Manchester United too had to settle for the Europa league. And again, while everyone questioned Leicester’s pedigree, they again showed up with the good stuff. They finished the group stages as table toppers, ahead of the Porto, Kobenhaven and Brugge. Agreed, that their opponents could be tougher and maybe we would have a different story if say, Real Madrid were in their group but these teams too have a ton of Champions League experience compared to Leicester who were debutants in this tournament.
Their first real test of European football came when they were drawn against Sevilla. They lost the first leg but grabbed a crucial away goal as the night ended 2-1 against them. However, they showed signs of last season when they took down Sevilla 2-0 at the King Power stadium. They now join the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Monaco, Atletico Madrid and Juventus. Surely the odds are stacked against them now but reaching this far hasn’t been an easy feat. They now remain the only side representing England in the Champions League.
Analysts, pundits, commentators, fans; no one could’ve predicted what Leicester have done in the past 2 years. They have managed to surprise us all with their passion for the game and determination to succeed. While the fairytale transitions into a potential nightmare for Leicester domestically, they have a reason to be proud of themselves for where they find themselves in Europe. It almost feels like a movie sequence and we are about to find out what happens next. Regardless of what that might be, I am proud of Leicester and i am happy for their success. Even though i am not a fan, I wish them a continued fairytale. Because thats what the world needs. We need more success stories. We need a proof that football is all about passion and not about money. We need a reminder that you can purchase the biggest superstars in the world and put them under one roof, but you cannot buy passion. You cannot replicate what Leicester have done.
You cannot help but smile at their simplistic brilliance. It remains to be seen how far they progress in the tournament and who they draw against next but for now, the fairytale continues….
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