Leicester City Are An Unsolvable Riddle That Should Terrify Atletico Madrid
February 22nd, 2017: The jig is up. Leicester City have escaped Sevilla with only a single-goal deficit, but the final scoreline could’ve and should’ve seen Sevilla travel to the King Power Stadium with a three or four goal advantage.
Leicester City are done and dusted — they’ve been tactically found out, the one-year wonders of Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and a defensive backline that’s suddenly had a massive epiphany regarding their own individual shortcomings means that the Foxes are doomed.
They’ve been dumped out of the FA Cup by Millwall, and they’ve been soundly defeated by Swansea to sink to their fifth straight Premier League loss. They haven’t scored in six straight EPL matches, and they’re playing some of the most dire and predictable football the top division has ever seen.
Claudio Ranieri, the man who’s been knighted, immortalized and heralded as Leicester’s own Theseus, has his head chopped off and placed on a stick as an example for any remaining romantics out there.
This is how things stand after match day 25. Leicester are one point above the drop zone. They’ve gone from three defeats in 38 matches during their title-winning campaign to 14 in 25, and the teams behind them smell blood.
41 Days Later — April 4th, 2017: Leicester City have won six matches in a row. They’ve dumped Sevilla out of the Champions League with an incredible 2-0 victory at the King Power, Jamie Vardy scored a brace to stun Liverpool, and relegation fears were vanished with victories over Hull City and Sunderland.
After match day 31, here’s how things now stand for Leicester.
They’re the hottest team in the country, they’re in the top half of the table and only one point behind Watford in ninth. They’ve opened up a gap of nine points over the relegation zone with only eight matches remaining, four points away from the blessed accumulation of 40.
What does all this mean? I haven’t a f**king clue. Tactically, Shinji Okazaki has been restored to the lineup by Craig Shakespeare, which is like saying you've fixed the mechanics of some complex machine by means of percussive maintenance — just hitting it until it worked.
Jamie Vardy has now scored six goals and registered two assists in his last seven matches, Riyad Mahrez has completely altered his season with two goals and an assist in his last five and Wilfred Ndidi suddenly looks like a more than capable replacement for N’Golo Kante.
Jamie Vardy makes it 2-0 for Leicester late in the second half! pic.twitter.com/Mq3qbcilfU
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 4, 2017
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 1, 2017
If I’m Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid, I simply do not know how to go about disrupting magic. There's no lecture in Simeone's master class on suffocating opponents that deals with the occultism of Leicester City.
When Gianluigi Buffon said, “The only team I’d like to avoid in the draw is Leicester. They have got enthusiasm, they know how to hurt the strongest teams,” everyone just laughed and laughed. Buffon was like Tim the Enchanter, warning King Arthur and his knights of the killer rabbit.
Juventus and Gianluigi Buffon, scared of Leicester City? It’s preposterous, but that’s exactly the realm in which Leicester City operates. Atletico Madrid must be wary of how they approach a feral Jamie Vardy and company.