Talking Tactics: Rodgers must use all his cunning to get Foxes firing
FA Cup winners Leicester risk seeing their European adventure come to an early end.
Drawn alongside Napoli, Spartak Moscow and tonight’s opponents Legia Warsaw, the Foxes have won just once — a seven-goal thriller in Moscow last month.
They currently sit bottom of Group C on five points but will go top with a victory.
Ahead of this evening's crunch clash at the King Power Stadium, we look at what Brendan Rodgers must do to transform his side’s fortunes in the competition.
Despite their inconsistent start, Rodgers remains confident of advancing to the knockout stages.
Speaking after a 1-1 draw at home to Spartak in their most recent European clash, he said: "It’s all to play for.
"If we, most importantly, win our next one that will put us in a good place going into the last game.
"It was always going to be the case. I’ve said about winning the two home games, we haven’t done that, but it’s very clear — we win the two games and win the group.
"I thought performance-wise we played reasonably well. We created chances, more than enough to win the game, and one moment where we lacked concentration and ability to run back cost us."
Rodgers' men have already shipped 21 goals in 12 league games this term — only bottom two Norwich and Newcastle have conceded more.
It comes as little surprise that their defence has been similarly porous in the Europa League, letting in seven goals in four group matches.
Clearly, the Northern Irish coach needs to find a way to tighten things up at the back.
A clean sheet tonight against the Polish champions would be an important starting point.
Leicester have kept only three clean sheets in 19 games in all competitions this season — and none in the Europa League.
Their defensive performances have been sub-par but a frustrating element within that has been their habit of giving away soft goals.
For example, Victor Moses’ header in the home draw against Spartak came due to non-existent marking.
Aleksandr Sobolev’s opener in the reverse fixture, which beat Kasper Schmeichel at his near post from range, was equally soft.
The Foxes eventually came out on top in a 4-3 thriller in the latter match but the two dropped points in the former highlight the costliness of such lapses in their own third.
Leicester have gone some way to atoning for the number of goals they have conceded by scoring seven themselves — but they could do with finding the net sooner than they have been.
Five of those goals have come in the second half — and one of the other two came in the final minute of the first half.
Only against Napoli have the Foxes led early, with Ayoze Perez striking after nine minutes.
While they should not have thrown away a 2-0 lead late on in that instance, they have not held such an advantage in any other match.
That in itself may be a factor in their current European struggles. Rodgers may consider fixing it by risking a more attacking approach early in games.
Leicester do not lack creativity or firepower with Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho, Patson Daka, Ademola Lookman and Harvey Barnes in their ranks.
Inviting Vardy to the party
Rodgers has previously spoken of the need to manage Vardy’s playing time carefully as Leicester’s talisman approaches his 35th birthday.
The striker has been limited to cameo appearances from the bench so far and is yet to register a Europa League goal or assist this campaign.
He looks just like his usual self in front of goal domestically, however.
Vardy is eighth in the Premier League for touches in the opposition’s box and his nose for a finish is undiminished, netting seven times against an expected goals tally of 4.6.
Potential heir Daka banged in four goals in Moscow but with so much riding on these encounters with Legia and Napoli, Rodgers may need to turn to his tried-and-tested No9 to secure Leicester’s passage to the next round.