After the fairy tale: Leicester's season in five dates

England’s fairy tale champion Leicester City welcome Atletico Madrid to the King Power Stadium on Tuesday, seeking to overturn a 1-0 deficit in its Champions League quarterfinal. Here are five key dates from its roller coaster season… Photo: Reuters
While Leicester managed to hold onto both Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, it could not keep the other star of last season’s title triumph. France midfielder N’Golo Kante left for Chelsea in July for a fee of £32 million ($40.1 million, 37.8 million euros) and is now poised to pick up a second successive Premier League winner’s medal. With new recruit Nampalys Mendy perpetually injured and Daniel Amartey failing to convince, it was not until the January arrival of Wilfred Ndidi that Leicester found an adequate replacement. Photo: Reuters
The first signs that things were about to unravel spectacularly came on the opening day of the Premier League season when Leicester lost 2-1 at promoted Hull City. Hull was without a manager and relegation favourites, but goals from Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass earned the team a shock win. Leicester only lost three games over its title-winning campaign. By mid-October this season it had already lost four and there was much worse to follow. Photo: AFP
While Leicester slipped down the Premier League table, the club found solace in its first ever Champions League campaign. Falling back on the counter-attacking tactics that served it so well last season, it won the first three group-stage games against Club Brugge, Porto and Copenhagen. A 2-1 home victory in the return game against Brugge in late November, courtesy of goals from Shinji Okazaki and Mahrez, took it into the knockout phase with a game to spare. Photo: Reuters
By the time February was drawing to a close, Leicester had sunk to within one point and one place of the relegation zone and faced the prospect of becoming the first English champions to be relegated since Manchester City in 1938. It returned from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Sevilla with a creditable 2-1 deficit. But hours later, in a move that shocked world football, Claudio Ranieri was sacked as manager. Leicester’s players were roundly criticised for having let Ranieri down, but the promotion of his former assistant manager Craig Shakespeare proved a masterstroke. Leicester has won six of the nine games they have played since. Photo: Reuters
Leicester had been largely outplayed during its first-leg defeat against Sevilla, but in the return leg they produced a display that brought to mind the stirring exploits of last season's title run-in. Captain Wes Morgan levelled the tie on aggregate and put Leicester ahead on away goals before Marc Albrighton slammed in an outright winnger to send the King Power into raptures. It left Leicester as the last English representatives in Europe’s elite competition. Photo: AFP