Leicester City make their debut in the UEFA Europa Conference League with a home first leg against fellow domestic cup holders Randers.
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Leicester City make their debut in the UEFA Europa Conference League with a home fixture against fellow domestic cup holders Randers.
• The English club finished third in a fiercely contested UEFA Europa League Group C during the autumn, two points behind both Spartak Moskva and Napoli, after losing 3-2 away to the Italian club on Matchday 6. Randers, meanwhile, qualified from UEFA Europa Conference League Group D, drawing their first four matches but doing enough to finish runners-up to AZ Alkmaar with seven points.
• While this is Randers' first match against English opponents in UEFA competition, Leicester have been paired once before with a Danish club, beating FC Copenhagen 1-0 at home before drawing 0-0 away to them in the group stage of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel kept clean sheets for Leicester in both legs against the champions of his homeland.
• Leicester booked back-to-back appearances in the UEFA Europa League group stage by winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history last May thanks to a 1-0 victory in the final against Chelsea. However, in a repeat of the previous season Brendan Rodgers' side just missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification, finishing fifth in the Premier League after spending almost all of the campaign in the top four.
• UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists in 2016/17, the Foxes won their UEFA Europa League group last season on their competition debut but were eliminated in the round of 32 by Slavia Praha (0-0 a, 0-2 h). This term they won two, drew two and lost two of their six group games, the highlight a 4-3 win at eventual group winners Spartak in which new signing Patson Daka scored all four goals, the low point a shock 1-0 defeat away to Polish league strugglers Legia Warszawa.
• Leicester were unbeaten in nine European home games (W7 D2), winning all six group encounters at the Leicester City Stadium with the concession of just one goal, until that defeat by Slavia. Rodgers' side are unbeaten at home in this season's European campaign, drawing 2-2 against Napoli and 1-1 against Spartak before beating Legia 3-1, but have yet to keep a clean sheet in any European game, home or away, in 2021/22.
• Winners of the Danish Cup for the first time in 15 years – and second in all – last season, when they beat SønderjyskE 4-0 in the final, Randers are participating in UEFA competition for the first time since 2015/16 and in the autumn made their debut in a European group stage.
• The Jutland club's 2021/22 European campaign started in the UEFA Europa League play-offs, where they were defeated by Galatasaray (1-1 h, 1-2 a). That result sent Thomas Thomasberg's side into the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage, where they posted score draws in their first four games before claiming a first win, 2-1 at home to CFR Cluj, on Matchday 5. A first defeat, 0-1 at section winners AZ, did no damage as qualifying rivals Jablonec, with whom they had twice drawn 2-2, also lost their final fixture, enabling Randers to remain a point and a place above them.
• The Danish club have won just one of their last eight European away games (D3 L4) – 1-0 against Sant Julià of Andorra in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League first qualifying round first leg (4-0 aggregate).
UEFA Europa Conference League squad changes
In: Wesley Fofana, James Justin
Out: Filip Benković (Udinese), Ryan Bertrand
In: Hugo Andersson (Malmö), Matthias Andersson (Sion), Alexander Nybo (Fredericia)
Out: Erik Marxen (Nordsjælland), Andreas Søndergaard (Wolves, end loan)
Links and trivia
• Copenhagen-born Schmeichel is the first-choice goalkeeper for both Leicester and the Danish national team, for whom he has been capped 78 times. His club colleague Jannik Vestergaard is also a current Danish international.
• Daniel Amartey was a Copenhagen player from July 2014 to January 2016, when he joined Leicester midway through their Premier League title-winning season. He made 63 appearances in all competitions for the Danish side, scoring six goals, and was unbeaten in five encounters with Randers.
• Amartey, Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton all featured alongside Schmeichel for Leicester in one or both of those 2016/17 UEFA Champions League matches against Copenhagen.
• Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans opened the scoring for Belgium in a 4-2 home win against Denmark in the UEFA Nations League on 18 November 2020.
• Eight clubs made their European group stage debut in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season but Randers are one of only two to have made it through to the knockout phase, the other Group C runners-up Bodø/Glimt.
• Leicester and Randers are two of five reigning domestic cup holders participating in the UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs; the others are Maccabi Tel-Aviv, PAOK and Slavia Praha.