The odds were at 5000/1 while most experts predicted them to be relegated a season after they had a late surge if you will to stay in the Premier League. Did that stop or taint their path towards the unexpected top? Not a chance. Especially with Claudio Ranieri at the helm, guiding the club from the East Midlands to the 2015-2016 Premier League (EPL) title. Your champions: Leicester City.
Wining seemed impossible, but the players, coaching, fans and an overall determination led them here. Lets take a closer look at the stars who made it happen.
Riyad Mahrez has scored 17 goals and added 11 assists in 35 games as the starting right midfielder was the prestigious EPL Player of the Year award. In doing so he became the first African player to ever do so.
Jamie Vardy scored 22 goals and added six assists in 34 games. As one of the two strikers in almost every starting XI this season, Vardy at times created something out of nothing while finishing what teammates’ started at others. At the age of 29, he is truly making a name for himself, which proves that late bloomers definitely do indeed exist.
A man that arrived in the summer from Ligue 1 to play in the heart of midfield also made a difference. N’Golo Kante is like a clean pitbull if you will as his intentions on the field are strictly professional. Whether he is breaking up plays with interceptions, tackling opponents or finding teammates in the final third for a quick counter or build-up, this young man has done it all in his position.
Now for the center-backs who have stood tall and firm in the heart of defense while also scoring some crucial goals at the other end. Robert Huth scored a brace in their 3-1 win at Manchester City while captain Wes Morgan recently scored the equalizer at Manchester United in their 1-1 draw. Both have played very well throughout and are responsible for helping goal keeper Kasper Schmeichel protect his goal.
The ownership and staff worked very hard to bring this team to where they are today, but the man in charge on the field is truly a huge part of this successful run: coach Ranieri.
The Italian was replaced by Jose Mourinho back in 2004 at Chelsea because he was deemed unable to bring success to that club. He was fired from Greece a year-and-a-half ago as they were playing too poorly in EURO 2016 qualifying, even losing to the Faroe Islands. The man himself claimed that he si still that same man today, but can all beg to differ.
Ranieri has his club play in a traditional 4-4-2 flat formation which is tactically quite simple, but there is more to it than that. The center backs control the back line and push up on set plays only. The fullbacks control the flanks and almost always push up for every offensive play, especially on the counters to make matters easier and more efficient.
The middle four can be seen as a midfield-wall if you will as their job is to make it harder to get to the final third by breaking up passes and pressing relentlessly. All four pull back to help the defense when the opponents rush up field with numbers.
The two strikers are responsible for helping one another and their team in scoring. At times, they even pull back to help the tiring midfield and defense to fill in open gaps.
Ranieri lets his boys play as they are all willing to play selflessly and clearly it showed this season. With two games to spare, they have become champions and deservedly so.
Most people including the coach think that this was a one-time feat that most likely will never occur again. However, with some new reinforcements like to join them due to their guaranteed Champions League group spot, anything is possible. Discipline, belief, determination and hunger got them this far, which can mean that climbing up the latter even further is possible.