Thursday 25 May 2017

Leicester suffer Euro hangover

Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

John Percy

After the champagne sparkle of Leicester's historic Champions League night, this was the annoying hangover.

Leicester 0 Southampton 0

Leicester were always going to struggle to produce an encore to their stirring victory over Porto on Tuesday and this excruciating afternoon continued the champion's unpredictable defence of the title.

Southampton's Shane Long in action with Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Boyers
Southampton's Shane Long in action with Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Boyers

Leicester have now recorded 19 Premier League games at home without defeat, but they could easily have surrendered that proud record against a vibrant Southampton, who are improving rapidly under Claude Puel.

The visitors wasted many chances to become the first team since last September to raid the King Power Stadium, while their defence have now gone nine hours without conceding a goal.

England caretaker manager Gareth Southgate will have learnt little in the stands.

Leicester were strangely lacking in stardust, perhaps feeling the after-effects of the first Champions League home game in their 132-year history.

Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez in action with Southampton's Ryan Bertrand. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Boyers
Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez in action with Southampton's Ryan Bertrand. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Boyers

"It's a new experience, adapting after the Champions League," said manager Claudio Ranieri. "Maybe I have to think about when we play every three days, we should maybe have given some players some rest.

"Southampton played better than us and they deserved to win - we have to recognise this."

As much as Leicester were laboured and disjointed, Saints, though lively, were missing plenty of chances. Southampton's week has been far from easy, after assistant manager Eric Black was named in the investigation into claims of corruption, yet Puel should have been celebrating his first win in four games against Ranieri.

Puel suffered defeat three times against Ranieri during their battles in the French league, and he cut a frustrated figure, wheeling around with his arms in the air. He had feared tiredness would afflict his players, after their trip to Israel for Thursday's Europa League tie, but it was Leicester who lacked energy.

Puel said: "I think it was positive to leave some players at home when we played in Israel. It's a crazy schedule and we can see the troubles of playing in a European tournament. To have the ability to have a good game like this after a long trip is very interesting." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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