Boss who spent last season playing down the title-bound Foxes’ chances is wary of a group campaign against Bruges, Porto and Copenhagen that starts on Wednesday.
Claudio Ranieri was up to his old tricks again as Leicester prepared for their Champions League bow, writes Dave Kidd in Bruges.
After spending the first half of last season claiming his table-topping, title-bound Foxes were only interested in securing 40 points and Premier League safety, the Italian claims he is only targeting third place in Group G – allowing Leicester a Europa League place post-Christmas.
As English champions, boss Ranieri’s rookies are top seeds and are expected to progress to the knockout phase with Porto.
But after Saturday’s 4-1 thrashing at Liverpool, Ranieri believes his team are suffering the after-effects of last season’s miracle.
The 64-year-old, who will lead a sixth different club into Champions League action on Wednesday, said: “There are two positions to go into the knock-out, but also the third position is good for us.
“We need to make (European) experience. It is important for us to go over Christmas and continue to play in Europe.
“Of course we want to go through to the knockout stages of the Champions League and if it is not possible we want to go into the Europa League.
“I don’t want to make illusions for our fans.
“We know very well this season is totally different. Last season, everyone gave 120 per cent and everything was perfect — and perfection isn’t supposed to exist.
“Then maybe this season we have to pay the price of something. But I am very happy to pay now, because we achieved a lot of things last season.
“It is good when the players believe in something. I think we wrote a fantastic fairytale last season because no one, including ourselves, didn’t believe it was possible.
“I think it is impossible to win the Champions League, because there are so many big teams but we have to write another big fairytale, the second story.
“Yes of course I say it is impossible but Leicester showed the impossible was possible.
“Some people say, ‘Oh, Leicester can win the group’ Hey! Calm.
“There is Bruges, who have a lot of experience, Porto, who have a lot of experience, and Copenhagen, who have a lot of experience.”
Ranieri revealed £30million club-record signing Islam Slimani is fit and ready to start after also overcoming a work-permit wrangle — although he may prefer to stick with Shinji Okazaki in the No10 role behind striker Jamie Vardy.