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Leicester City target Champions League success to rekindle Premier League campaign

Riyad Mahrez says Leicester City's squad must maintain the camaraderie that fired them to last season's Premier League title. Reuters/Carl Recine

Leicester City’s Jekyll and Hyde modus operandi will be in the spotlight on Tuesday night when they take on FC Bruges in the fifth game in Group G of the Uefa Champions League.

The English champions are making an abject defence of the title they heroically claimed last season. They lie in 14th place, two points off the relegation zone after 12 matches. But in Europe’s prestigious club competition, the set the pace in their pool.

And they can seal a spot in the last 16 knockout stages with at least a point at the King Power Stadium.

Progress would, of course, highlight the inconsistency of their performances. They have won only one of their last five games and they enter the fray against Bruges on the back of another reverse at Watford on 19 November.

City boss Claudio Ranieri conceded after the defeat that relegation was a distinct possibility if they failed to convert good performances into points.

Star midfielder Riyad Mahrez echoed his manager’s view on the eve of the Bruges game. “I think we played well against Watford and I don’t think we deserved to lose,” he said. “But that happens in football. Last season we were unplayable. We were winning all our games away from home.”

The 25-year-old Algeria international was one of the key performers in the fairy tale surge to their first English top flight title.

At the start of the 2016/17 campaign he was linked with a transfer to more established powers in England but decided to stay with Ranieri. “At moments like this, we will see the strength of the squad and the mentality of our group of players. We have to react and I know we can react. I am confident.”

While a berth in the last 16 will be fresh territory for Leicester City, it’s familiar ground for Real Madrid. The 11 times European champions will progress from Group F with a draw at Sporting Portugal. Borussia Dortmund, who entertain Legia Warswa, are already through to the knockout stages from the group.

Elsewhere Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen can advance from Group E with victories over Tottenham Hotspur and CSKA respectively.