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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Can Leicester's title-winning tactics survive UCL Group G challenge?

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here's a preview for Group G. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

1. Porto
2. Leicester City
3. Copenhagen

Leicester City

Can the romance and storytelling of last season's amazing Premier League title win be sustained in the club's first ever venture into this competition? Manager Claudio Ranieri, who took Chelsea to the 2004 semifinals, has held onto his stars of last season, aside from N'Golo Kante, who departed for Stamford Bridge. Flying forwards Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez remain, and Leicester's style of play -- which eschews long periods of possession to hit opponents on the break, after defending deep and in numbers -- might just cause as much trouble for continental opposition as it did last season in England.


Porto are inn the middle of what is for them a terrible title drought, having not won the Primeira Liga in the last three seasons; the last time they went longer than that without a domestic championship was in the early-1980s. They have a new manager in former Valencia boss Nuno, but their Champions League prospects might depend on keeping hold of key players like Yacine Brahimi.

Will Claudio Ranieri's smash-and-grab tactics continue to work for Leicester City in the Champions League?

Club Brugge

Brugge were runaway Belgian champions last season, winning both the regular season and championship playoffs that take place in the Jupiler Pro League, and are coached by goalkeeping legend Michel Preud'homme. Young defender Bjorn Engels looks to be the latest off Belgium's production line of talent and refused the chance to join Arsenal in the summer.

FC Copenhagen

Overcoming what was looking like a hex for Danish teams against APOEL Nicosia (it was fourth time lucky in the qualifying rounds), FC Copenhagen made it into the Champions League proper by beating the Cypriots with a late Federico Santander goal. Stale Solbakken remains in charge, and they'll be looking to repeat the 2010-11 competition when they surprisingly qualified from the group, thanks partly to a draw with Barcelona.

Game of the group: Porto vs. Leicester

Foxes fans did not quite get the glamorous trips to the likes of Paris, Munich or Barcelona they might have liked, but a trip to Europe's Atlantic coast is not to be sniffed at. Porto, a club with ever-changing personnel, due to their policy on cashing in on talent to survive, have proved themselves tricky, canny opposition down the Champions League years. Escape from there with a point, then Ranieri's team may be set up for further adventures.

X Factor

Can Leicester be as effective in Europe as they were for the entire nine months of the Premier League last season? Might referees disapprove of the strong-arm defending that is often employed by centre-backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth? Or will Ranieri return to his old tinkering ways, and mess with a previously successful formula? It is certain that their three opponents have real physical tests to pass in playing them.

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.


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