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Leicester’s downward spiral this season has certainly been one of the most intriguing storylines in the Premier League, and that story came to a head when manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked by the club.
After leading his side to an improbable PL title during the 2015/16 season, the Foxes are now in the midst of a difficult relegation battle as the season hits its most crucial juncture.
Still, the Foxes must turn their attention towards survival despite losing a manager that was amongst the most well liked in England and really all throughout European football.
“Claudio [Ranieri] leaving is obviously very, very sad. We achieved the impossible together and I have nothing but the upmost respect for him for everything that he achieved at this club,” said Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
“Everybody knows he’s a classy guy. He came in and said his piece to the players, thanked us for our efforts and for last season and said goodbye. It’s a shame it has come to this.”
Schmeichel reiterated that he didn’t believe Ranieri was the issue and that the players are at fault for not taking care of the results on the pitch.
“You can look at our performances on the pitch,” Schmeichel said. “We haven’t been quite good enough this season. It’s quite clear. The league doesn’t lie. We’re in the position we are in because we haven’t been good enough.”
The keeper stated that he especially is taking Ranieri’s sacking to heart and that he wishes the club could have strung together some better performances in order to save his former manager’s job.
“I don’t think anyone has had more sleepless nights over our form than I have,” Schmeichel said. “Our form affects me deeply. Every person can clearly see that we haven’t performed on the pitch and we deserve the criticism that we get and that we are getting because of our performances. But anything above that is out of our hands. On the pitch, we definitely deserve the criticism that we are getting.”
In the interim, Craig Shakespeare will be tasked with replacing Ranieri and hoping to keep his club afloat next season in the PL.
While Shakespeare does have caretaker experience back in 2006 with West Bromwich Albion, the 53-year-old is in a much more difficult position this time around given the magnitude of Leicester’s fall from grace.
“Craig is someone I’ve known for a very long time,” Schmeichel said. “He’s a very bright character. he’s a very serious football man, what you’d call a real football man. he’s very enthusiastic about training. I have absolutely no doubt that he’s capable of becoming a manager whether it’s now or at some point. I think that he does have ambitions of that but he’s been a magnificent manager in his time here.”Follow @MattReedFutbol
A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]
Real Betis 1-2 Sevilla
Sevilla has moved into second in La Liga thanks to a pair of second half goals on Saturday. Riza Durmisi gave the hosts the advantage heading into the halftime break but Sevilla fought back in the second stanza with finishes from Gabriel Mercado and Vicente Iborra to pull into a tie on points with league leaders Real Madrid.
Leganes 4-0 Deportivo La Coruna
Raúl Albentosa’s red card was the least of Deportivo’s worries on the day as the 17th place side took a hammering from Leganes. The victory for the hosts moves Leganes two points clear of Deportivo in the table and five points above the drop zone. Alexander Szymanowski and Martín Mantovani helped Leganes jump out to a 2-0 lead inside of the opening half hour before late finishes from Unai Lopez and Alberto Bueno put the finishing touches on the encounter.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Alaves 2-1 Valencia
Eibar 3-0 Malaga
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Espanyol vs. Osasuna (6 a.m. ET)
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (10:15 a.m. ET)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Granada (12:30 p.m. ET)
Sporting Gijon vs. Celta Vigo (12:30 p.m. ET)
Villareal vs. Real Madrid (2:45 p.m. ET)
Napoli 0-2 Atalanta
Mattia Caldara netted a brace on Saturday and helped guide his Atalanta side to within three points of Napoli in the Serie A table. Atalanta currently sits fourth in Italy’s top flight, but the race for the second place is heating up as Roma, Napoli and Atalanta all sit within five points of one another. Meanwhile, Inter Milan will have a chance to draw level on points with Atalanta on Sunday when they take on Roma.
Juventus 2-0 Empoli
It took a bit for the league leaders to get going but Juventus remains in firm control of Serie A after another victory. An own goal from Lukasz Skorupski gave the hosts the lead after the halftime break before Alex Sandro doubled the advantage 12 minutes later after finishing off a Dani Alves cross. The Bianconeri now hold a 10-point advantage over second place Roma.
Sunday’s Serie A schedule
Palermo vs. Sampdoria (6:30 a.m. ET)
Chievo vs. Pescara (9 a.m. ET)
Crotone vs. Cagliari (9 a.m. ET)
Genoa vs. Bologna (9 a.m. ET)
Lazio vs. Udinese (9 a.m. ET)
Sassuolo vs. AC Milan (9 a.m. ET)
Inter Milan vs. Roma (2:45 p.m. ET)
With most clubs having just 10 matches remaining before the promotion playoffs, both ends of the Championship table boast plenty of storylines.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Reading
Brighton is on a warpath towards promotion and it looks like the club won’t be stopped in its attempts to reach the Premier League next season. With just four blemishes on its record this season, the Championship leaders picked up another convincing win on Saturday against fifth place Reading. Sam Baldock continued his brilliant scoring streak this season in the first half, before Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert each found the back of the net on the other side of the break.
Newcastle 2-2 Bristol City
Bristol won’t be winning a title this season but the club did manage a vital point against one of the Championship’s top sides on Saturday to keep its hopes of avoiding relegation alive. The visitors got off to a stunning start against the Magpies with a pair of first-half finishes giving Bristol a halftime lead of 2-0. Then, Newcastle picked up their pressure and pulled one back after a Korey Smith own goal before Ciaran Clark leveled the match with under 10 minutes to play for the second-place team.
Leeds United 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Chris Wood helped move his side up to fourth in England’s second flight, however, Leeds still remains nine points out of second position. Meanwhile, keeper Robert Green was forced into a brilliant save from the penalty spot to deny Wednesday a share of the points. Wednesday are currently sixth in the table and hold the final promotion playoff position.
Elsewhere in the Championship
Aston Villa 1-0 Derby County
Barnsley 1-1 Huddersfield
Brentford 4-2 Rotherham
Cardiff 2-2 Fulham
Preston North End 2-1 QPR
Wigan 0-0 Nottingham Forest
The top teams keep winning as the Bundesliga closes in on its final third of the season, as the top three sides all scooped up multi-goal wins on Saturday.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
Bayern Munich 8-0 Hamburg
One to forget for USMNT man Bobby Wood, as Bayern again spun the collective heads of Hamburg. Robert Lewandowski scored a hat trick and Kingsley Coman added a brace as the leaders battered 16th place Hamburg.
Lewandowski’s 19 goals are good for a tie atop the leaderboard, as he joins Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (More on him after this wild Tweet).
Freiburg 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
Aubameyang struck twice stay atop the Bundesliga leaderboard with 19 goals, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos also scored for third-place BVB. USMNT winger Christian Pulisic made an 8-minute cameo when he came on for Marco Reus late in the match.
RB Leipzig 3-1 Koln
Emil Forsberg scored in the first five minutes and an own goal gave the new boys a 2-0 halftime lead. Timo Werner than restored the two-goal cushion after Yuya Osako had scored Koln’s only goal.
Wolfsburg 1-2 Werder Bremen — RECAP
Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Mainz
Darmstadt 1-2 Augsburg
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Ingolstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — 9:30 a.m. EDT Sunday
Schalke vs. Hoffenheim — 11:30 a.m. EDT Sunday
|Hertha BSC Berlin||22||11||4||7||30||24||6||9-1-1||2-3-6||37|
|1. FC Köln||22||8||9||5||31||22||9||5-5-0||3-4-5||33|
|FSV Mainz 05||22||8||4||10||31||37||-6||5-3-3||3-1-7||28|
|FC Schalke 04||21||7||5||9||25||22||3||6-1-4||1-4-5||26|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||21||5||3||13||19||32||-13||2-2-6||3-1-7||18|