Champions League: Imperfection of perfect starts to hit Leicester

Leicester have scored four goals without reply in their first two Champions League encounters
Leicester have scored four goals without reply in their first two Champions League encounters

Michael Lintorn assesses what usually becomes of Premier League clubs that win their first two Champions League games...


"The three English teams to have kicked off with two wins in the past five years – Man United in 2012/13 and Arsenal in 2012/13 and 2013/14 – all exited in the round-of-16, with two failing to top their groups."

Leicester's Premier League title defence certainly hasn't got off to an ideal start, with the first six games yielding just seven points, but Foxes fans won't be bothered by that right now after their idyllic introduction to the Champions League.

Claudio Ranieri's men followed an exceptional 3-0 victory at Club Brugge in their opener with an equally impressive 1-0 triumph over two-time winners Porto. The result is that they top Group G by two points, have a five-point advantage over their latest victims in third and are 1.4840/85 to finish first.

You probably already heard the statistic that the midlanders have become the sole English side in history to prevail in their initial two matches in the competition, but their performance thus far even compares favourably to the Premier League's veterans of Champions League combat.

They are the nation's first representatives in three seasons to pocket all six points available in the opening two fixtures, with Arsenal the last to manage what you might have assumed was a fairly standard feat in 2013/14.

A mere three of 20 Premier League participations between 2011/12 and 2015/16 (15%) commenced with two wins from two, compared to six out of 12 between 2008/09 and 2010/11 (50%).

However, now comes the party-pooping moment: a six-point start is rarely an indicator of a successful Champions League campaign ahead, often proving to be the opposite.

The three English teams to have kicked off in such a fashion in the past five years - Man United in 2012/13 and Arsenal in 2012/13 and 2013/14 - all exited in the round-of-16, with two failing to top their groups.

None of the total nine who did so over the last eight seasons advanced beyond the quarter-finals - five ducking out in the round-of-16 and four in the last eight - which is notable as there were seven Premier League semi-finalists in that period, all taking four points or less across weeks one and two.

The most extreme example was 2008/09. Liverpool won their first two matches yet found their ceiling to be the quarter-finals. Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea all made began more modestly but went further than the Merseysiders, reaching the semi-finals or final.

So, as strange as it sounds, Leicester's initiation might have gone too smoothly, though the only trend that they probably care about right now is that the nine other stellar starters progressed to the knockout phase, which would already exceed the expectations of many of their supporters.

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