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Congratulations to Leicester City! Against all the odds, they have won the English Premiership for the first time ever … and Barcelona will be meeting the team that’s got the whole world talking when they play in the International Champions Cup at the Friends Arena, Stockholm in a preseason friendly on August 3 at 8.00pm CET.
It’s been an amazing journey for Claudio Ranieri and his team. In a competition dominated in recent years by such heavyweights as Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs, the Foxes are traditional also-rans. The club founded in 1884 did finish second in the league back in 1929, but in the Premiership era they have spent have spent more seasons out of the top flight than in it, and just eight years ago were playing in the third tier League One.
What dreams are made of
After narrowly escaping relegation last season, Leicester were 5000-1 outsiders to win the league this year, but boosted by Jamie Vardy scoring in eleven consecutive matches (he’s scored 22 in total with Algerian Riyad Mahrez adding a further 17), they spent almost the whole season top of the table. Although many (if not most) punters expected them to eventually falter, they hung on until the end, and were eventually confirmed champions (with two games in hand) when second placed Tottenham drew 2-2 on Monday evening.
In August in the Swedish capital, Barcelona will be meeting Leicester for only the second time ever. The teams met in a preseason friendly in 2003 at the Walkers Stadium (now King Power Stadium), the Catalans winning 1-0 thanks to a Javier Saviola goal.
Barça’s other International Champions Cup rivals are Celtic in Dublin (July 30 at 7.00pm CET) and Liverpool (August 6, venue TBA).
Foxes in Europe
And it also means that Leicester will be among Barça’s potential Champions League opponents next season. It will be the Foxes’ first ever presence in the tournament, and only their fourth in any major European competition, after they suffered first round exits in one Cup Winners’ Cup and two UEFA Cups.
These are also happy times for former Barça striker Gary Lineker, now a sports presenter on the BBC and a Leicester man through and through. Like his fellow supporters, he is probably dreading waking up and realising that all this has only been a dream! Congratulations, Gary. Congratulations, Leicester. See you in August!
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