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Ranieri excited by Champions League draw

Press Association logoPress Association 12/12/2016

Claudio Ranieri has welcomed Leicester's Champions League draw against Sevilla as their debut campaign continues to the knockout stage.

Having stunningly won the Premier League last season and then topped Group G ahead of Porto, FC Copenhagen and Club Brugge, Ranieri acknowledged on Monday that his side represented a favourable draw for any of the group runners-up.

But having avoided the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to land the team who have won the Europa League for three straight years, he too was happy with the outcome in Nyon on Monday.

"For us it is a tough but very exciting draw against a team used to fighting in Europe," he said.

"Whoever we played would have been a tough opponent but I think all the teams who arrived second will have wanted to play against us and I know we will be the underdogs once again. Always we are underdogs.

"I know Sevilla have lifted the Europa League three times in three years - it is unbelievable. Now they are third in the league and have lost only three so far. They are a big, big, big team.

"They are very technical and very good. They are fighting to win the title with Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, so that tells you how good they are.

"For the fans it is good because Spain is a fantastic country and a lot of English people enjoy going there. They have been with us in every game so far and for them I say 'enjoy' and that we will continue to fight to go as far as we can in the Champions League.

"For now, we must focus on us. We have to be focused on the Premier League and we will enjoy the Champions League whenever it happens."

That domestic focus begins on Tuesday against a Bournemouth side two places and two points ahead of Ranieri's side, whose disappointing start to their title defence has left them 14th in the table.

They bounced back to form in style on Saturday, though, beating Manchester City 4-2 as striker Jamie Vardy ended his 16-game club goal drought with a hat-trick.

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