Manchester United can postpone Leicester’s party but not spoil it, according to Louis van Gaal.
The Foxes travel to Old Trafford on Sunday where victory would give them a stunning first Premier League title.
But United are also desperate for three points to close the five-point gap to Arsenal and Manchester City as they chase Champions League qualification.
Van Gaal’s side have finally found some consistent winning form, claiming victory in six of their last seven matches to keep the pressure on in the league and reach the FA Cup final.
Leicester are unbeaten in nine and the United boss has no doubt that they will end up lifting the trophy, with games against Everton and Chelsea still to come.
He said: “I think we have to beat them because we are still in the race for fourth position. We cannot allow that they are the champions this weekend at Old Trafford.
“I think they shall be the champions a week later. We don’t spoil the party, only postpone it a little bit.”
Leicester’s remarkable season has stunned football, but Van Gaal insisted the Foxes’ exploits have not been a total shock to him.
The Dutchman praised his opposite number Claudio Ranieri, whom he first battled against when the pair were at Barcelona and Valencia respectively in the late 1990s.
Van Gaal said: “It was always difficult to beat his teams. He has always organised his teams very well.
“I was the first that said that they could be the champions. For me it’s not any surprise. I’ve seen it many times and I believe in team building and this manager has done that with this team.
“Of course they had the circumstances to play always with the same team, they didn’t play so many matches as the other teams in the Premier League, so it is always possible.
“They have confirmed it and I think it is also good for the Premier League and for the sport of football that not always the same teams are the champion.”