Leicester City won their final pre-season fixtures on Sunday, beating La Liga’s Sevilla by 1-0. It’s my understanding that it came home on Sunday, and, that being the case, not all eyes were on the King Power for this tune-up match. In case you missed it, here’s our take on how the squad looked in this technically-friendly-but-wow-you-wouldn’t-know-it-from-watching match.
Yes, it was only a friendly, but the Foxes were the better side by a larger margin than the scoreline might suggest. City camped out in their opponents’ half for long periods of time and never allowed their Champions League foes to settle into an attacking rhythm.
The entire side looked fit and positive, but from my vantage, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Wesley Fofana were the star men for Leicester. KDH bossed the midfield, sending Vardy on his way with well-weighted through balls and spinning away from defenders. His goal was nothing more than he deserved. Little Wes gobbled up everything that came his way and looked comfortable going forward, demonstrating his impressive passing range. Whatever Chelsea offer for him, it ain’t enough.
No, not THAT one, but a good one nonetheless. I assume we’re known as Sevilla’s bogey club.
Manager Brendan Rodgers selected a curious starting XI. It appeared to be a 4-5-1 with Barnes and Castagne on the wings. This was a creative way to get Madders and KDH in the middle together and to have both Timmy and Ricardo on the right. Curiously absent from the starting lineup were Youri Tielemans and Kasper Schmeichel. Both came on as substitutes, so make of that what you will.
The 1-0 scoreline was flattering to the visitors, as creativity and shooting seemed to be lacking in the final third. Maybe it was a matter of decision-making; several players passed up good opportunities in an attempt to set up a teammate, while at other times, tunnel-vision struck, and shots were attempted when passing was the better option. This kind of wastefulness will be punished if the Foxes don’t grow a more ruthless streak.
It hurts me to say this, but it looked as though Vardy might have lost a step. He was outraced to a through ball by a central defender and that is something that never used to happen. He’s still quick, he’s still clever, and he’ll adapt, but there are hints that age is starting to have an impact.
Perhaps we need to stop scheduling Spanish sides for pre-season matches. Last year, we lost Fofana for the majority of the campaign. Today, it was Ricardo who had to be hauled off on 40’ with an apparent ankle or foot injury. He went down with no one around him, a scenario I associate with significant injuries. With all of the other uncertainty, the last thing the club needs is a long-term injury to a key player.
UPDATE: It’s an achilles injury. The curse continues.
Daniel Iverson: Had little to do in his 45 minutes in goal. Made one strong save and didn’t make much of an impression one way or the other with his distribution.
Ricardo: Looked up for it until his injury. Combined well with Castagne on the right and didn’t let any significant attacks come his way.
Wesley Fofana: Brilliant match for Little Wes. The one time he was beaten he recovered and took the ball back in the area. Distribution was terrific.
Jonny Evans: No drama from Jonny, which is exactly what the manager would want. Looked authoritative and avoided any knocks.
James Justin: Not as adventurous going forward as he is on the right, but made a few good runs and kept things tidy at the back.
Timothy Castagne: Looked dangerous in midfield and made several fantastic runs that were missed by his teammates. Less influential dropping back into defense after Ricardo’s injury, but did the job well.
James Maddison: Looked determined and positive on the ball, but the final touch was lacking. Tracked back well and seems to be adding new facets to his game.
Wilfred Ndidi: Not the imperious performance we’ve come to expect from Wilf, but he was solid and won a handful of balls you’d expect him (and fewer others) to win.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall: The goal was one of the least impressive things he did. His passing was excellent and he even used his right foot a few times. Looked the readiest for the new season.
Harvey Barnes: It was a very Harvey Barnes performance. He’s unplayable at times, he doesn’t always make the choice you’d want him to make, but you still feel for opposing right backs.
Jamie Vardy: A mixed bag for the talisman as he couldn’t quite find the shot or the pass to get a goal or three. His understanding with KDH is growing which is going to translate into goals sooner rather than later.
Youri Tielemans: The Belgian got stuck in and did a fine job at both ends of the pitch. A very professional performance.
Dennis Praet: Played on the left wing after a Barnes injury and looked very much a threat in that role. Should have had an assist from a lovely cross. Ran his socks off.
Patson Daka: He’s going to score an awful lot of goals. He’s just such an aggressive force, running behind the defense, tracking back, and taking up intelligent positions. Only a fantastic save kept him off the score sheet.
Kasper Schmeichel: Like his countryman, he didn’t have a lot to do. He did handle some very questionable back-passes calmly. Seemed to make an effort to play short and medium passes on the ground to good effect.
So, that’s that. In one week, the season kicks off against Brentford on Filbert Way. We look forward to spending the 2022/23 season with you!
— Matt Piper (@_mattpiper) July 31, 2022
Commentated on the #lcfc game but watched the #Lionesses on @OwynnPA in the commentary box
Have never done that before but we understood the importance of the game & how much it will do for the growth of Women’s ⚽️!
Congratulations Lionesses Inspiring a generation https://t.co/DVcbjehjJT
Couldn’t agree more, Pipes.