Five wins in a row without conceding a goal. Perched proudly like a peacock at the top of the Premier League.
That was oil-rich, money-bags Manchester City back in September, but those autumn days are long gone as Leicester City have turned the Premier League on its head.
Claudio Ranieri is affectionately known as ‘The Godfather’ at the King Power Stadium, and his ‘Sicilian Defence’ have been asked many questions of late but they have refused to crack under the pressure.
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The Italian defensive mindset is well-known, but what is not so well-known is that it was born out of a tragedy that is still spoken about to this day.
The 1949 Superga air crash killed the entire legendary Torino first team that had dominated Italian football and it decimated the Italian national side that had drawn heavily upon the talented young Torino players. The Azzurri had to enter the 1950 World Cup with a second-rate team whose only hope was to defend like their lives depended on it and to try to nick a goal.
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This tactic shaped Italian football for decades to come as Torino’s ‘total football’ was abandoned and Italian domestic and national teams became notorious for their mean defences.
Leicester’s Hollywood season may indeed be remembered for the early headline-grabbing
exploits of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, but the Foxes have crawled over the line by virtue of Ranieri’s defensive organisation.
From back to front, and from left to right, they have proven themselves to be the best team in the country and now they getting to prove it as the games come thick and fast.
This defensive mentality was best typified during the 1-0 home victory over Southampton when the a through ball to Sadio Mane had caught the backline of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth pushing up towards the half-way line and the two lumbering centre backs were never going to get back in time.
But never fear as Danny Simpson raced from full-back to cover and chased Mane all the way. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel rushed out to intercept but Mane rounded him and with the gaping goal to aim at managed to strike the ball against the retreating Simpson’s right arm.
No goal; no penalty; no red card. It is the kind of team that legends are made of.
And never to be forgotten.
Has Leicester City's defence been ignored due to Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
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