Champions League football returns to the Etihad Stadium for another season as the champions of England take on the champions of Croatia; GNK Dinamo Zagreb. It’s the first meeting between these two sides in European competition, and the first time City have faced a Croatian side. Following their 4-0 win over Atalanta on match day one, Zagreb will be keen to carry on their fine form against City and maintain top spot in the group.
Ahead of this one, we spoke to Croatian football experts @CroatiaFooty, to get an insight into what we can expect from Nenad Bjelica’s side at the Etihad Stadium.
For Manchester City fans who aren’t already aware, how did Dinamo Zagreb perform last season to get them to the UEFA Champions League this campaign?
Last season, Dinamo Zagreb won their league very comfortably. No one gave them a real fight, and they made a good run in the UEFA Europa League, where they made it through to the Round of 16 where they eventually lost to Benfica. I think that the performance in the Europa League showed everyone that they have the ability to play in the biggest club competition in the world.
How have Dinamo Zagreb started the 2019/20 season?
They have started good but not great as they usually do. They have suffered two defeats in the league, one coming against their bitter rivals Hajduk Split, and one against a newly promoted side in the league. However, those losses where solely down to the fact that they didn’t play their best team, as they have to rotate due to involvement in the Champions League. Right now they are in 2nd place, behind Hajduk Split, who have one point over them – Dinamo Zagreb have however played one game less.
With this being the first ever meeting between the two sides, who should Manchester City fans be looking out for in the Zagreb team?
I think that Manchester City fans have probably heard of Dani Olmo. He is the best player for Zagreb without a doubt. He’s the type of player you don’t see very often in Dinamo or any other Croatian club for that matter. Despite Dinamo also having some Croatian internationals in the squad, Olmo is the player that will probably do the most damage to Manchester City’s defence.
What are the realistic expectations for this Zagreb side in the Champions League this season?
Before the Atalanta game, I would’ve expected a 3rd place finish in the group. But after that game, where they dominated a side that ended in the 3rd place of the Italian League, I think they can go through to the Round Of 16. But, I don’t think they will go further than that. I hope they do, but I simply don’t see it happening.
What are you expecting from Tuesday night’s game?
I’m expecting a game with a lot of chances. I want to see Dinamo Zagreb play with their heart, no matter the result. Manchester City have players that are simply out of this world such as Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and so on. It will be hard for Dinamo Zagreb, but what matters the most for me, and I think for the fans, is that the players leave their heart on that pitch.
Dinamo Zagreb predicted starting XI and score prediction?
Formation: (5-2-3/5-3-2) | Livakovic, Stojanovic, Theophile-Catherine, Dilaver, Peric, Leovac, Moro, Ademi, Olmo, Petkovic, Orsic. That’s the best team that Dinamo Zagreb can send out tomorrow night. My prediction is a 3-1 win for Manchester City. Sadly.
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