What does the world really think of Leicester City?
How can we explain that a side with one of the lowest passing success percentages is the big sensation of the Premier League?
Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva, Real Madrid’s Marcelo and Chelsea’s Kenedy are among the players who have come from Fluminense’s youth teams – and the Rio de Janeiro side are now studying Claudio Ranieri’s men to improve their work with kids.
“How can we explain that a side with one of the lowest passing success percentages is the big sensation of the Premier League?” asked Fluminense’s coordinator Marcelo Teixeira, a former Manchester United scout.
He’s not alone. If Dunga gets sacked from Brazilian national team, the favourite to succeed him is Tite. And guess what? He’s also a Leicester’s fan – and a joker too. “I’ve sent the name of Riyad Mahrez to the Corinthians board,” he laughed in a recent press conference.
Brazil’s champions won’t buy him, of course. But every fan – and also professional – in Brazil have ditched the beach on Sunday mornings to follow Leicester’s phenomenon on TV.
Every fan – and also professional – in Brazil has ditched the beach on Sunday mornings to follow Leicester’s phenomenon on TV
They talk about the relationship between Kasabian and the club on social media, and envy their supporters for dreams about the title and getting free beer on the chairman’s birthday.
Brazilian side Chapecoense have even invited the Premier League leaders for a friendly through their Twitter account. “Who knows,” sighed coach Guto Ferreira.
There are 210,000 Google results in Spanish for "el milagro del Leicester" (the Leicester miracle). In Argentina, they’re usually referred as "El Leicester de Ulloa" (Ulloa's Leicester), such is the fame the former Brighton striker has amassed.
Jamie Vardy earned four pages of the classic section ‘From A to Z’ in El Gráfico magazine in March, while Claudio Ranieri was also described as the ‘conductor’ of the Leicester orchestra in the April edition of Argentina’s traditional magazine.
The rise in demand of Leicester products – from the few available – can be seen on the eBay of Argentina, Mercadolibre
The rise in demand of Leicester products – from the few available – can be seen on the eBay of Argentina, Mercadolibre: the shirt is sold for 800 pesos (£40), while most other Premier League ones vary between 450 and 600 pesos.
Outside La Bombonera, two Boca fans discussed the team's tactics recently. "The problem is that [Fernando] Gago is not a traditional No.4, we need [Adrian] Cubas,” one tells the other.
“He reminds me of [N’Golo] Kantè; a short and clean ball-winner. Without him, Leicester were relegation candidates... and look at them now."
“Have you heard?” Maurizio calls out. “They could sign Francesco Totti!”
Led by Claudio Ranieri – who failed to deliver tangible success to Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina – the fairy tale nature of this unlikely title push is not lost on the fans of his former clubs
Fifteen years ago, this coffee bar aside would have sparked a conversation about the viability of Real Madrid during the Galactico era, but today it is Leicester. Led by Claudio Ranieri – the Rome native who failed to deliver tangible success to Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina – the nature of this unlikely title push is not lost on the fans of his former clubs.
While his reputation in England had him pegged as ‘The Tinkerman,’ in Italy the Foxes boss was previously regarded as a fireman; someone called in to rescue clubs flirting with relegation. Yet now, thanks to the widening gap at the top of the Premier League, a Sky Sport Italia caption has labelled him ‘CR+7’.
Various columns dedicated to the rise of Leicester have described their season as “una favola nella favola” – a fairy tale within a fairy tale. Most are simply unable to comprehend how this team of journeymen have stolen a march on England’s cash-rich super clubs.
Various columns dedicated to the rise of Leicester have described their season as “una favola nella favola” – a fairy tale within a fairy tale
“Ranieri is playing a very Italian 4-4-2, defending and hoping to win 1-0, but he’s having a lot of luck,” fan Luca says as the bar chat continues. “Van Gaal, Mourinho, Wenger and Pellegrini are as responsible as Ranieri, but it’s a beautiful story.
Talk then turns to the Serie A title race of 1985, when Hellas Verona came out on top for the first and only time. “A normal team with two incredible players,” they say. “Everything Vardy touches is a goal and Mahrez is just a devastating talent. Preben Elkjær and Hans-Peter Briegel were the same for Verona. Unbelievable.”
An event created by the Facebook page Calciatori Brutti (over one million followers, translates as ‘the rubbish footballers’) is recruiting for a celebratory trip to Leicester should they win the title.
The new hero of the page is Danny Drinkwater, who they are faux-claiming is the cousin of former Inter striker Robert Acquafresca. Right now there are 50,000 people going. Jamie Vardy might indeed be having one big party...