Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Prediction: Manchester City vs Dinamo Zagreb

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 30 Sep 2019

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Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: bet365

Dinamo Zagreb travel to the north-west of England to face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday evening in the second round of this season’s Champions League Group C matches.

Manchester City

The Premier League champions have started the season relatively well, winning five of the seven league games so far and failing to beat only Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City. However, they trail the leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool, who have managed to win all seven so far. Apart from that, they’ve launched their Carabao Cup campaign with a 0-3 win over Championship side Preston North End. As for the Champions League, Pep Guardiola’s team won their opening game away to Shakhtar Donetsk by the same scoreline, and they sit second in the group with the same number of points as the leaders – Dinamo Zagreb.

City have made a few additions to their squad this summer, most notably midfielder Rodri who arrived from Atletico Madrid for a reported fee of €70 million as a long-term replacement for 34-year-old Fernandinho. They also had what turned out practically a swap deal with Juventus, bringing in fullback Joao Cancelo in return for former Real Madrid defender Danilo.

Team News

Guardiola has some serious injury issues at the moment, and the good results despite that only go to show how good City really are. Aymeric Laporte, their arguably best defender at the moment, has been ruled out for a very long time with a knee injury, and to top it off, John Stones, his usual partner in the heart of defence, is also out with a thigh problem. With Vincent Kompany gone from the club, the Catalan tactician has been forced to use Fernandinho as a centre-back next to Nicolas Otamendi.

Apart from the two defenders, winger Leroy Sane has been ruled out for the rest of the year with a similar injury as Laporte. Guardiola mentioned February as a possible time for the German international to return, but in the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva he has quite enough high-quality options on the wings to tide his team over.

Dinamo Zagreb

Similar to Manchester City in England, NK Dinamo Zagreb have been dominating the Croatian First League for a while now. Only Rijeka have managed to knock them off the perch in 2016/17 in recent years. But like City again, they currently sit in second place, albeit with a game in hand on league leaders and long-time fierce rivals Hajduk Split who beat them directly earlier in the season. Their Champions League campaign began with a surprising 4-0 thrashing of Serie A side Atalanta, which is why they travel to England sitting top of the group.

Dinamo signed a total of five new players this summer, with the arrival of attacking midfielder Luka Ivanusec from local rivals NK Lokomotiva for €3 million their biggest investment of the transfer window.

Team News

Coach Nenad Bjelica shouldn’t have any problems with potentially unavailable players, either due to injury or suspension. The full squad should be at his disposal, which means we’re likely to see a line-up very much like the one which brought down Atalanta.

Conclusion

With all due respect to the Croatian side, Manchester City really shouldn’t have any problem with turning this game the way it suits them. They are the champions of one of the hardest leagues in the world, and though this particular trophy continues to elude them, it’s the one they want exactly for that reason. In order to win it, they simply cannot let a team whose collective worth in the market is less than that of most of their players individually stand in their way. Of course, this isn’t the knockout stage and they will likely go through the group regardless of this particular result, but they will certainly want to secure passage as soon as possible.

With City’s tremendous quality and abundance of attacking options, goals should be aplenty, and even the highly talented Croatian international goalkeeper Josip Livakovic isn’t likely to be able to do much about it.

Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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