Leicester City’s Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel attends a press conference at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid on April 11, 2017 on the eve of the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match Atletico de Madrid vs Leicester City. GERARD JULIEN / AFP
Kasper Schmeichel believes Leicester City’s rags to riches tale is inspiring them to keep dreaming on the Champions League stage ahead of their quarter-final first leg with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Schmeichel is expected to captain Leicester at the Vicente Calderon in the absence of the injured Wes Morgan.
And the Dane is relishing the challenge of facing the likes of Antoine Griezmann in Leicester’s debut season in the Champions League rather than watching Europe’s elite on the TV.
“When you look at the DNA of our team, the type of characters we have, the journeys everyone’s been on,” said Schmeichel.
“Lower leagues, rejections, these are the kinds of nights playing in League Two and watching the Champions League on TV I was working to make sure I got there.
“You can’t help but be inspired by these kinds of games.”
Schmeichel was the Foxes’ hero as he saved a penalty in both legs to shock Sevilla in the last 16.
And despite facing an Atletico side that have reached the final in two of the past three seasons, Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare insists the English champions aren’t in the last eight to make up the numbers.
“I think in terms of life experience sometimes you have new experiences, which the Champions League is for us this season.
“We are here to compete, we are not here to make the numbers up.
“These players deserve that opportunity and we want to show that tomorrow night.”
Shakespeare has overseen a remarkable turnaround in Leicester’s fortunes since Claudio Ranieri was sacked after a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of the tie against Sevilla.
His success has been built naming much the same line-up that took Leicester to the title last season.
However, captain Morgan will be a big loss as he misses out through a back injury.
“He’s here, he’s travelled with the team but no chance of playing,” added Shakespeare.
Shakespeare is though expected to recall Christian Fuchs, Danny Simpson, Wilfred Ndidi, Riyad Mahrez and Shinji Okazaki after they were all rested for the first defeat of his reign at Everton on Sunday.
Atletico have injury problems of their own as Kevin Gameiro’s absence means Diego Simeone will name the same side that started Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Real Madrid.
Under Simeone Atletico boast one of the best home records in Europe, losing just one of 21 Champions League games at the Calderon.
Los Rojiblancos have also kept 17 clean sheets in that run and Simeone is expecting a low scoring affair over the two legs.
“I can’t imagine a game with many goals due to the characteristics of both teams,” said the Argentine.
“We are both hard working, consistent teams. They will be two very challenging games.”
Shakespeare said comparisons drawn between the two teams’ style was a huge compliment to Leicester given Atletico’s feats under Simeone.
And the Atletico boss insists the example of both clubs shows that even given the disparity of wealth between Europe’s top few clubs and the rest, success doesn’t have to depend on finance.
“Football is marvellous. No one has the absolute truth in how to win,” added Simeone.
“Maybe teams have looked at the way we do things but we have adapted our style to the characteristics of our players and that has allowed us to grow.”