(Reuters) - Champions Leicester City have struggled to maintain focus in the English Premier League this season and have found it easier in the Champions League due to the tournament’s shorter format, manager Claudio Ranieri said.
Leicester have failed to build on their title triumph and despite a fine Champions League campaign, the Foxes are languishing in 15th in the standings after 20 games, just six points ahead of the bottom three.
“It’s not been easy, but luck has played a part too. Last season, every time our opponents created chances they missed them, but now they’re all going in,” Ranieri told FIFA’s website when asked about the dip in form.
Leicester, who face Spanish side Sevilla next month in the last-16, lost just once as they topped their Champions League group but their Premier League campaign has been a stark contrast, having lost nine times so far.
“It’s also true, though, that we maybe haven’t been as focused in the Premier League because we’ve been thinking that we’ll bounce back from every defeat without any problem. It’s been different in the Champions League,” Ranieri added.
“It’s a new tournament for us, and shorter too, which has helped us to focus.”
Ranieri, who was named FIFA’s best coach of the year, said he felt his passion for the game sets him apart from the rest.
“I have a lot of passion and I think I‘m good at getting that across to my players. You might say that I have the key to unlocking players’ minds, though not all of them,” he said.
“It pains me when I can’t make it happen... I think that’s the secret, because when you’re working at the highest level it’s vital that you show the players how much you love the game and that you convince them to do the same.”
Leicester host league leaders Chelsea on Saturday.
(This version of the story corrects opponents and day of match in final paragraph)
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan