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Rediff.com  » Sports » CL Preview: Ranieri urges Leicester to raise game; Juve without Chiellini

CL Preview: Ranieri urges Leicester to raise game; Juve without Chiellini

October 17, 2016 21:56 IST

Ranieri urges Leicester to raise game for Copenhagen visit

Claudio Ranieri

IMAGE: Demarai Gray and Claudio Ranieri, manager of Leicester City look on during a training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League match against FC Copenhagen at Belvoir Drive Training Facility. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images.

Manager Claudio Ranieri has challenged Leicester City to put in their best performance of the season when they host FC Copenhagen in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Leicester have had a tough start to life in the Premier League this season after their dream run to the domestic title as 5,000-1 outsiders in the last campaign.

Ranieri's men have struggled to mount a convincing defence of their title so far, and are currently 13th in the standings after losing four of their eight Premier League matches and drawing another two.

They have, however, fared better in the Champions League, where they top Group G after two wins in two games, and Ranieri said he was prioritising success in Europe over the Premier League this season.

"At this moment this is the priority," the Italian, who started influential winger Riyad Mahrez on the bench during Saturday's 3-0 Premier League defeat by Chelsea, told reporters on Monday.

"In the Premier League, Leicester must be safe at the end of the year, the Champions League is now. In one month we play our Champions League -- in or out."

Ranieri denied his team were lacking fight and called on his players to give their best in their first-ever meeting with Copenhagen, who top the table in Denmark.

"Last season we were more compact and there was another style of football," Ranieri added. "Now everybody knows us and we try to change something.

"It is normal when you first play in Europe that the team loses something. They are human, not machines.

"We will have to give the best performance of the season, it is very important for us to get three points. We have to be strong, playing with passion, with heart, with the support of our fans. It will be a hard match until the end."

Leicester's Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said he was relishing the chance to test his skills against a team from his homeland.

"Copenhagen are a team who are the top dogs in Denmark," Schmeichel, who has spent his whole career in Britain, said.

"It will be a special experience for myself to play against them, I've never played against a Danish team or a club game in Denmark."

Copenhagen are second in Group G and trail Leicester by two points, with a win and a draw in their first two matches.

Juve without Chiellini and Mandzukic for Lyon clash

Juventus

IMAGE: A general view during an Italy training session at Juventus Center. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images.

Juventus will be without defender Giorgio Chiellini and striker Mario Mandzukic when they face Olympique Lyonnais in Champions League Group H on Tuesday.

Chiellini missed the Serie A leaders' game against Udinese on Saturday because of a thigh injury and Juve said his condition was "being monitored" after he was left out of the squad for the match in France.

Mandzukic was also omitted because of a "muscular strain in his right adductor region", the club said on Monday.

Midfielder Claudio Marchisio also misses out as he continues his rehabilitation after picking up a knee injury in April.

Juve lead Group H on four points with Lyon in third place one point behind.

Despite the injury setbacks, the visitors are confident they can grab a good result in Lyon.

"At Juve, every game is vital. We are confident we can live up to expectations," midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who played at OL from 2008-11, told a news conference.

"We're missing some key players but every good team should be able to roll with the punches and adapt," said coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Lyon, who lost 2-0 at Ligue 1 leaders Nice at the weekend, look set to start up front with France internationals Nabil Fekir and Alexandre Lacazette, who is back from injury.

"Tomorrow's game will not just be about the Lazazette-Fekir pair. We will need to be rigorous," coach Bruno Genesio said.

"Defence is key to win games on the long term. We need to stick together."

Source:
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