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Ranieri lets loose the 'Dragon Slayer' to torment his old enemy

Published: 27th September 2016 08:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2016 08:05 AM   |  A+A-

Raneiri-AP (2)

Leicester's team manager Claudio Ranieri |AP

LONDON: Claudio Ranieri is ready to unleash the 'Dragon Slayer' on Porto as Leicester prepare for the first Champions League home game in their 132-year history.

Islam Slimani, the pounds 29?million record signing, is Leicester's not-so-secret weapon for the visit of Porto. Ranieri hopes the striker can extend his remarkable record against the Portuguese club nicknamed the Dragons.

Slimani scored six goals in six appearances against Porto for his former club Sporting Lisbon, including a strike in August, to earn the colourful nickname from supporters during his three-year spell.

The Algeria international is -expected to line up alongside Jamie Vardy tonight as Leicester bid to seize pole position in Group G, and Ranieri admits he has already utilised Slimani's inside knowledge of their opponents.

"Slimani has scored so many times against Porto and I'm sure he will be a threat to them," he said. "We spent a lot of money on him and, of course, he is a goalscorer. But, also, when he doesn't score, or will not score, it is OK because he is a hard worker.

"I didn't know about his nickname but, of course, I have spoken with him about Porto. We have a lot of respect for them, they are a lot more experienced team in Europe [than Leicester]."

Leicester's media room was so packed with television cameras yesterday that a picture of Emile Heskey was knocked off the wall.

Ranieri will be hoping the result follows the cycle of their debut in the Champions League, a resounding 3-0 win over Club Brugge.

That victory was preceded by a heavy defeat at Liverpool and the Premier League champions will face Porto aiming to recover from Saturday's mauling at Manchester United, in which they conceded four goals in 20 minutes.

"Of course, the start to the season is a concern. Last season, everything was perfect. This season, no. The first chance the opponents score. I'm not happy when my teams don't react," said Ranieri.

"We know last season was amazing but now we must forget what happened. It will be fantastic on Tuesday for our fans. A lot of them came to Bruges and listened to the [Champions League] music - now a lot more of them can listen. It'll be fantastic to continue the fairy tale for them."

Ranieri has demanded a return to the uncompromising defending of last season, revealing his players are "scared" of the new rules designed to prevent grappling in the penalty area. The defending at set-pieces at Old Trafford was dreadful and Ranieri wants a back-to-basics approach. Leicester conceded only 36 goals in their title triumph.

"Last season, we were one of the best in the league and conceded very few goals from the set-pieces, and now we leave four metres. Now I can't jump? Now we have to go back to our strength."

Porto, who beat Roma in the play-off to qualify for the Champions League, drew their opening game with Copenhagen and won the competition under Jose Mourinho in 2004.

Iker Casillas, the former Real -Madrid goalkeeper who now plays for the Portuguese club, is participating for his 18th consecutive season in the competition.

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