Both Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur find themselves in action on Tuesday night, but while Mauricio Pochettino’s men are enjoying their league campaign, Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes are struggling in their attempts to balance league and European football.
Leicester are on the brink of securing a place in the last 16 after winning two in two whereas Tottenham are in the middle of a repair job, looking to rebuild on their win against CSKA Moscow, following an opening day defeat to Monaco at Wembley .
Leicester City on the brink of qualification
The Foxes face FC Copenhagen at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday, having won their first two Group G matches.
But in contrast the Premier League champions have taken just eight points from the first eight matches of their title defence.
A lack of goals has contributed to Leicester’s struggles with last season’s hero Jamie Vardy only managing three goals in twelve appearances - at this stage last term he had eleven goals, could it be a night for the England international to end his drought of seven games without a goal?
Winger Riyad Mahrez and striker Islam Slimani are set to return to the starting line-up to aid him for the first of back-to-back games against FC Copenhagen after being named as substitutes in Saturday’s game against Chelsea, coming on 67 minutes into the 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Leicester have already lost four league matches this season - one more than in the whole of last season prompting Ranieri to comment:
“We want to improve but it’s normal when we start the season to have something to work on because new players have come and everything is new,” said Ranieri.
“Maybe we want to do something more but we are Leicester, we’re a good team and we have to show our qualities.
“We are getting better and have to be solid and strong and don’t make any pressure about relegation.”
The Champions League will provide a welcome distraction for Claudio Ranieri’s side with their dismal league form becoming a concern following yet another away defeat.
Much has been made about Ranieri’s selection against Chelsea with him after openly admitting that he is prioritising the Champions League as they only have chance to qualify, his selection decisions will only be justified with a win, so the pressure is not only on the players but also the Italian.
Big night in Germany for Spurs
Tottenham travel to Bayer Leverkusen aiming to secure a victory that will take them a long way to securing passage into the last 16.
Spurs currently sit second in Group E and taking three points off of their German counterparts will see the north Londoners tighten their grip on a qualifying spot.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side tend to travel well - and are typically tough to beat away from home - but go into the game without the services of defender Toby Alderweireld.
Pochettino is expected to shuffle his pack in Germany with Spurs facing a daunting run of fixtures in the next few weeks but Europe’s elite competition is an unforgiving place and there will be little room for error.
Eric Dier will be eying that central defensive spot given that he is unlikely to dislodge Victor Wanyama from his place in midfield. Also Heung-min Son only played 19 minutes against West Brom at the weekend which suggests he has been saved for a forward role against his former club, ahead of Vincent Janssen.
The draw at West Bromwich Albion could be a blessing in disguise for Pochettino’s men, with everyone raving about the team after their superb 2-0 victory against Manchester City a fortnight ago, it has brought his young side back down to earth knowing that there is work still to be done.
Leverkusen, currently third, will looking to leapfrog Pochettino’s side into second place and with the likes of former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez and Hakan Calhanoglu amongst their ranks, they certainly have the quality to give Tottenham a tough night.
A win in Germany will put Tottenham on the right path to qualification however defeat will potentially leave them with a huge uphill battle, the margins are so fine but Tottenham will know how important victory will be for their chances of qualification.