Monday, 27 July 2020

Two Teams to Represent Croatia in Champions League Qualifiers for Third Time

July 27, 2020 - For the third time in history, Croatia will have two clubs in the Champions League qualifiers.

HRT reports that in the two attempts so far, Croatian clubs have not managed to win group competitions, and it will not be easy for Dinamo and Lokomotiva this season either.

Croatia had two clubs in the qualifications of the elite competition for the first time in the 1999/2000 season when the Croatian colors were defended by Dinamo, i.e., the then Croatia, and Rijeka. The Zagreb team was successful, while Rijeka was not.

The Blues had only one obstacle; in the third qualifying round, they knocked out the Hungarian club MTK and qualified for the group stage. After the 0:0 result in Zagreb, the team led by Osvaldo Ardiles won 2:0 in Budapest, and the hero of the match was the double scorer Josip Simic (58, 86).

Dinamo played in the group stage with Manchester United, Marseille and Sturm that season. Although they were the last in the group, the legendary “zero” at Old Trafford is still remembered.

Rijeka started the qualifications in the 2nd qualifying round, where they lost to Partizan. The Belgrade team celebrated 3:1 in front of their spectators, and in the return match at Kantrida with 3:0.

The following season, in the summer of 2000, Croatia also had two representatives in the Champions League qualifiers. They were Dinamo and Hajduk, and both clubs were eliminated.

Dinamo started as champions in the third qualifying round, but was knocked out by Milan. The Blues took the lead at San Siro in the first match with a goal by Renato Pilipovic in the 19th minute, but the Rossoneri turned the score around with three goals (Sevcenko 23, 42, Comandini 60).

Milan was convincing in the return match and celebrated 3:0 at Maksimir with goals by Shevchenko (23, 42) and Jose Maria (55).

Runner-up Hajduk started in the second qualifying round and was immediately shocked by Hungarian club Dunaffer (0:2, 2:2). The Hungarians won the first match at Poljud 2:0 (Tokoli 57, Eger 90), while the second match ended 2:2. In the return match, Hajduk led thanks to two goals by Mate Bilic (9, 28), but Dunaffer returned both times (Zavadszky 20, Tokoli 87).

Dinamo and Lokomotiva will fight in the third attempt for Croatian clubs in the elite competition. 

Dinamo will start the hunt for the Champions League from the second or third qualifying round.

If in the Champions League round of 16, Lyon is eliminated by Juventus on August 7, and Napoli a day later by Barcelona, ​​Dinamo will start their European journey in the third qualifying round. However, if at least one of the two clubs qualifies for the Final Eight, Dinamo will have to play the 2nd qualifying round.

The Blues will be the winners in both the second and third rounds, and perhaps in the final “play-off round”. Relegation in the Champions League play-offs brings a direct placement in the Europa League groups.

Lokomotiva starts from the 2nd round of qualifications, and it is inevitable that they will not be the top seed in the draw.

The name of their opponent will be known on August 10, and one game will be played, which is scheduled for August 25 or 26.

Relegation to the 2nd qualifying round of the Champions League brings placement to the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League, however, if the Croatian runner-up skips the first hurdle in the qualifications, they will have guaranteed a European autumn. Namely, relegation in the 3rd round of the Champions League means direct placement in the Europa League group stage.

We emphasize that only one match will be played in all preliminary rounds, and a draw will decide the host. The only exception is the last, play-off round in which the standard two matches will be played.

The preliminary round of the Champions League will be played between August 8 and 11, the first qualifying round on August 18 and 19, the second on August 25 and 26, the third on September 15 and 16, and the playoffs on September 22 and 30. The group draw will be held in Athens on October 1, and the competition begins on October 20.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Thursday, 12 December 2019

How Much Did Dinamo Zagreb Earn from Champions League Campaign?

December 12, 2019 - Regardless of their fall out of Europe this season, Dinamo Zagreb has many reasons to be pleased - and the financial outcome of it all is certainly one of them. 

Yes, Dinamo dropped out of Europe this season after a 1:4 loss to Manchester City saw then finish in the last place of Group C. Still, at the same time, the club set a historical record that will undoubtedly please club leaders, as record earnings have been achieved in Europe this season, reports T.portal.

Recall that last season, Dinamo earned some 17 million euro in the Europa League, which was an unexpected push for the club budget. This season, however, Dinamo has recorded a total of 29.5 million euro from the UEFA Champions League prize pool.

Placing in the Champions League group stage alone brought in 15.25 million euro to the club. In addition, they will also receive a 'UEFA award' based on the club’s success in the last ten years. Although Dinamo has the seventh-lowest odds of all Champions League participants this season, it will still receive a respectable 7.7 million euro. A win against Atalanta in the first round brought in another 2.7 million euro, and two draws against Shakhtar in the third and fourth round amounted to a total of 1.8 million euro.

The prize money from Champions League qualifying rounds (two wins against Saburtal, a win and draw against Ferencvaros, and a win and draw against Rosenborg) should also be added, which brings the club a total of 29.5 million euro. 

However, T.portal adds that marketing rights (between two and three million euro), as well as generous earnings from ticket sales, should also be added, because Maksimir was sold out for all three Champions League matches.

Thus, when everything is counted, it turns out that by Wednesday, December 11, Dinamo has made around 34 million euro (a couple hundred thousand, give or take). This amount is double what it was last season when it played in the Europa League round of 16. 

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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Dinamo Falls to Manchester City, Eliminated from Champions League

December 11, 2019 - Dinamo Zagreb and Manchester City met for the final Group C game of the Champions League on Wednesday at Maksimir Stadium. 

The Zagreb club had the chance to achieve another incredible result in the final game of the Champions League group stage, though their opponent was no piece of cake - Manchester City. 

Dinamo came out with a lineup boasting Livaković, Stojanović, Ademi (C), Dilaver, Moubandje, Gojak, Moro, Olmo, Kadzior, Oršić, and Petković. Manchester City, on the other hand, came out with Bravo, Cancelo, Garcia, Otamendi (C), Mendy, Rodri, Gündogan, Foden, Silva, Mahrez, and Jesus. One thing was certain - Dinamo needed a win against City to secure a spot in the Round of 16. 

Dinamo and City kicked off at 6:55 on Wednesday to a sold-out Maksimir Stadium - and the atmosphere was buzzing despite the cold. The Zagreb club was aggressive at the start while City held back and waited for a counterattack. 

However, it was Dinamo to shock Zagreb when Olmo scored for 1:0 in the 10th minute! The goal certainly woke City up, and they continued to press aggressively for the next 20 minutes. Dinamo’s defense remained stable, that is until the 34th minute when Gabriel Jesus scored the equalizer. The game was now 1:1.

Moments before the half, Gojak's nasty elbow to Rodrigo's cheek should have been a red card, though the ref failed to consult VAR - and Dinamo was lucky.

All in all, Dinamo played bravely throughout the half and managed to hold their own. The game ended 1:1 at the half. 

The second half, unfortunately, didn't get off to the best start for the Zagreb side. Already in the 50th minute, Jesus scored for 1:2 City - and four minutes after that, Jesus secured a hat trick for 1:3. 

City made their first change in the 66th minute - Zinchenko came in for Gabriel Jesus, the hero of the night.

City maintained 71% possession of the game, and it wasn't long for them to score again. Foden made it 1:4 in the 83rd minute. 

With this loss against City and Atalanta's win against Shakhtar, Dinamo has been eliminated from the Champions League and will not compete in the Europa League this spring. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Dinamo Must Improve Poor Record against English Clubs, Beat Manchester City for Spot in Round of 16

December 10, 2019 - Dinamo Zagreb is facing Premier League champions Manchester City in the final group stage game of the Champions League on Wednesday. The only way for the Croatian side to join their visitors in the Champions League round of 16 is to beat them while Shakhtar mustn’t win at home against Atalanta. 

Over the weekend, Nenad Bjelica’s side won 1:0 on Friday against Varazdin and extended their league lead over second-placed Hajduk to nine points, while City lost 2:1 at home to their city rivals Manchester United and are now 14 points behind Liverpool who sit comfortably at the top. Despite the bad form in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola’s team is still considered to be one of the favorites to win the Champions League this season, so a hard task is in front Dinamo who have not won in the competition since a 4:0 home success against Atalanta on Matchday 1. 

While Dinamo is unbeaten in ten home European fixtures, a 2:1 defeat of Arsenal in Zagreb in September 2015 is Dinamo's only win against an English club in 12 previous fixtures, home and away with three successive defeats preceding the victory against the Gunners. Even though City have secured the top spot of Group C, Guardiola insists it will be senior first-team players who will feature in Croatia rather than the kids. 

"[Two years ago] we traveled to Shakhtar already qualified, we fought until the end, 2:0 down and then 2:1, we had chances at the end. We’re going to travel with the intention to win, but you need a real urgency to do that, but to respect Shakhtar and Atalanta we have to do it." 

When the Citizens and Dinamo went head to head at the Etihad in October, the Premier League champions fought hard for the 2:0 victory and scored the only goals of the game through the substitutes Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden in the second half. The brave display of Bjelica’s side away from home against one of the best teams in the world could mean that there is still hope for an upset in Zagreb. 

Furthermore, Dinamo have lost only one home game since April 2018 (W36 D6), the 2:1 loss to Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg in August 2018, but City are unbeaten in Group C so far, though two consecutive draws have taken the shine off their initial dominance in the tournament. On paper, it might seem like an easy task for City, but with the help from a sold-out crowd of almost 30,000 Dinamo might have the final word. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Champions League: Dinamo Zagreb Falls to Atalanta in Italy (2:0)

November 26, 2019 - Dinamo Zagreb met Atalanta in Bergamo, Italy on Tuesday for the penultimate game of the Champions League group stage. 

Dinamo Zagreb played their fifth round of the Champions League group stage against Atalanta at the legendary Giuseppe Meazza Stadium at 9 pm. 

The calculations were clear before the match - a point was enough for Dinamo to secure at least a third place in the group, that is, for their second consecutive European spring. 

Dinamo was without the suspended Nikola Moro on Tuesday, though the good news was that captain Arian Ademi, Mario Gavranovic, and Amer Gojak returned to the squad.  Coach Nenad Bjelica thus went out with Livakovic, Theophile, Dilaver, Peric, Stojanovic, Leovac, Ademi, Ivanusec, Olmo, Orsic, and Petkovic. 

Atalanta came out in the match knowing it was all or nothing, and a win was their only option on Tuesday. In the first five minutes, Atalanta already had a handful of dangerous attacks, which Dinamo was lucky to escape without conceding a goal. 

Atalanta’s aggression did not fizzle throughout the first half, though Dinamo had their fair few chances when the headers of Stojanovic and Orsic missed the goal.

But Atalanta finally had their chance in the 27th minute when Dinamo defender Dino Peric’s leg wrapped around Luis Muriel for a penalty. Atalanta was up 1:0. 

Dinamo’s defense continued in shambles - and they were lucky Atalanta missed three gifts from the Croatian backline. However, a brilliant shot by Orsic in the 35th minute hit the Atalanta crossbar. 

Atalanta was anxious for a goal and took nearly any shot they could with the hope that it’d hit the back of the net. The game, fortunately for Dinamo, ended 1:0 at the half. 

Dinamo saw perhaps the worst start to the second half they have had in several seasons. Their shaky defense once again to blame, as Alejandro Gomez scored for 2:0. 

Atalanta’s attacking game did not slow down as the second half continued - and Dinamo's drive dwindled. Atalanta had several unlucky chances, while Dinamo was dangerous maybe twice. This was not the Croatian champion we knew. 

By the 86th minute, Atalanta had taken their ninth corner of the match. 

The referee signaled to three minutes of added time, in which two corners for Dinamo proved unsuccessful. One last (and almost promising) Dinamo attack in the final minute kept us on our seat, but the match ended 2:0 for Atalanta.

Dinamo will host Manchester City next on December 11, 2019. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Champions League: Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Draw 3:3 at Maksimir Stadium

November 6, 2019 - Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhar met in the dramatic fourth round of Champions League Group C on Wednesday at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb. 

Dinamo Zagreb met Shakhtar on Wednesday for perhaps the most crucial match in the club’s recent history. A win would carry Dinamo on the road to the round of the 16. 

Ahead of Wednesday’s games, Manchester City led Group C with nine points. Dinamo and Shakhtar shared second place with four points each, with the Croatian champion having a better goal-differential, while Atalanta was in the last place. 

Dinamo came out with their full lineup on Wednesday, featuring Livakovic in goal, Theophile-Catherine, Dilvaer, and Perić in the defense, Stojanovic, Olmo, Moro, Ademi (captain), and Leovac in the midfield, and Orsic and Petkovic up top. 

Shakhtar was the first to threaten Dinamo when Taison fired from 20 meters out, though the ball went past the right of the goal. Shakhtar looked stronger from the start, and their momentum carried them to the first goal of the game. In the 13th minute, Alan Patrick scored for 0:1 Shakhtar. 

Dinamo’s first real chance of the game came in the 19th minute when an excellent through ball by Theophile-Catherine found the boot of Petkovic on the penalty area, though Petkovic shot weakly at the keeper. 

Petkovic’s chance came not long after, and a brilliant cross from Theophile-Catherine found Petkovic’s head for the equalizer. The game was 1:1 in the 25th minute.

Dinamo was awarded a free-kick from 20 meters out in the 33rd minute, though Orsic hit high over the goal. The Zagreb club was playing more open and calm after they equalized, and were continuing to threaten Shakthar’s goal. 

But Shakhtar wasn’t shying away from Dinamo’s goal either. Another chance for Alan Patrick resulted in a corner, though Shakhtar failed to capitalize. 

Two penalties were in question for Dinamo moments later, though referee Felix Brych called for the game to play on, which put Dinamo’s team and bench in hysterics. The game ended 1:1 at the half accompanied by the whistles of Dinamo fans.

The second half began with no changes on either side. 

Dinamo came out attacking at the start of the second half though Shakhtar’s defense remained solid. A dangerous Shakhtar attack in the 58th minute proved unsuccessful, though a quick counter by Dinamo saw Leovac hit the crossbar. 

Moraes shot on goal for Shakhtar in the 71st, though Livakovic had no difficulties defending. Dinamo made their first substitution in the 71st minute - Ivanusec came on for Stojanovic. 

But Dinamo’s luck wore thin just a few minutes later when Nikola Moro was given his second yellow card of the game. Dinamo had to play with a man down from the 73rd minute. 

A quick attack by Shakhtar almost resulted in their second goal of the match, though the game remained 1:1. 

However, Dinamo had their dose of luck in the 79th minute when Moraes was shown his second yellow of the match. Both teams were playing with ten men for the final 10 minutes. It didn't take long for the momentum of the game to change.

Dinamo coach Nenad Bjelica confirmed he made the right call by subbing in Ivanusec in the second half, who went to score his first-ever Champions League goal in the 83rd minute for the Dinamo lead. The game was now 2:1. 

But Dinamo wasn't done yet. An incredible play by Dani Olmo found Ademi across the box for 3:1 in the 89th minute! The referee added five minutes of injury time.

Shakhtar managed their second goal in the third minute of injury time for 3:2, and a dramatic final minute saw Shakhtar awarded a penalty, which Tete scored for the equalizer. The game ended 3:3 in Zagreb. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Champions League: Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Draw in Kharkiv (2:2)

October 22, 2019 - Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk met in the third round of Champions League Group C on Tuesday in Kharkiv as one of the key matches for the Croatian champion in the prestigious European competition this season. The winner would open the doors to the round of 16. 

Dinamo coach Nenad Bjelica had minor problems with player injuries on Tuesday. However, captain Ademi started from the first minute, while Petkovic started on the bench with Gavranovic in his place. The Croatian champion played in a 5-4-1 formation with three stoppers, and Olmo and Orsic playing the wings.

Shakhtar came out attacking from the start, with a dangerous play in Dinamo’s box within the first minute. However, it didn’t take long for the Zagreb side to find their form, maintain possession and move for the attack. Dinamo did, however, commit four fouls by the 10th minute, with Stojanović booked for a yellow. 

Shakhtar picked up their attacking game again with another dangerous play in the 13th minute, which was cleared out by Dinamo’s defense for a corner. While they were unlucky then, Shakhtar finally had their chance in the 16th minute for 1:0. 

Conceding the goal seemed to be the wake-up call the Zagreb side needed, who continued to press in Shakhtar’s half for the following five minutes. After Gavranovic failed to finish in the box, Orsic took the ball down the left wing to find the boot of Spanish wonder kid Dani Olmo for the equalizer. The game was 1:1 in the 24th minute. 

Both sides had chances in the minutes that follow as the intensity of the game increased. The game was equal, though Shakhtar maintained slightly better possession (55%). 

Dinamo opened the second half with a stellar chance in the 49th minute when Olmo hit the crossbar. Shakhtar’s defense had to save their goal from Olmo yet again in the 55th. Moments later, a penalty was awarded to Dinamo, which Orsic scored for 1:2. 

Shakhtar had an epic chance to make it 2:2 in the 65th minute, but Moraes just missed. In the 75th minute, however, Shakhtar’s Dodo equalized for 2:2. 

Olmo was unlucky in the final minute of regulation time and the game ended 2:2. 

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Monday, 21 October 2019

Dinamo Looking to Improve Poor Record Against Ukrainian Clubs, Away Record Against Shakhtar

October 21, 2019 - In the third round of the Champions League group stage, Dinamo Zagreb will take on Shakhtar Donetsk away at Kharkiv's OSK Metalist Stadion. This will be the first time these two sides have met in a European competition for a decade. The last time they faced each other, the Ukranian side was victorious in both games. 

In 2008, in the final qualifying stage for the group phase of the Champions League, the Ukrainian side triumphed 2-0 in the Donetsk first leg, before a 3-1 success in Zagreb. Back then, Mario Mandžukić, Dejan Lovren, Milan Badelj, and even Igor Bišćan were part of the Dinamo team while Shakhtar was represented by a strong team with the likes of Willian, Fernandinho and Luiz Adriano. In the first leg, Shakhtar already took the lead in the third minute of the game when former Croatia captain and now an assistant coach in the Ukranian club, Darijo Srna, converted the free-kick. The home side doubled the lead through Brazilian Jádson later in the second half. 

In the capital of Croatia, Dinamo struggled again as Brazilian trio Luiz Adriano, Brandão and Willian all scored. After being eliminated from the Champions League, Dinamo managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup. The Croatian side progressed to the group stages of the competition through Slavia Prague, after drawing both games, the first leg at home 0-0, but then qualified through away goals after drawing 3-3 in the Czech Republic. Dinamo was eliminated from the competition after finishing at the bottom of their group, while on the other side, Shakhtar was third in theirs, meaning that they played the UEFA Cup, which they then actually won that season. 

These two sides also played two friendly games in the last three years; the last being played in January 2018 when Dinamo won 1-0 as part of their pre-season. On Tuesday, Shakhtar will be considered favorites despite losing to Manchester City in the first round. The Donetsk club has been defeated in only three of their last 19 home matches in Europe, although they haven’t won any of the last five. 

On the other side, the 2-0 loss against Manchester City in the last round was Dinamo's 13th successive away defeat in the Champions League group stage, since a 2-2 draw at Marseille in November 1999. Furthermore, they have never beaten a Ukrainian opposition in a UEFA competition, home or away. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Champions League: Manchester City Tops Dinamo Zagreb 2:0 at Etihad Stadium

October 1, 2019 - Manchester City was better than Dinamo Zagreb (2:0) at Etihad Stadium in the second round of the Champions League on Tuesday. 

Dinamo Zagreb met Manchester City in the second round of the Champions League Group C on Tuesday at Etihad Stadium. Recall, Dinamo topped Atalanta 4:0 in Zagreb in the first round. Both teams secured three points after their first-round matches. 

Dinamo coach Nenad Bjelica had no problem with injured players for Tuesday’s match, while Pep Guardiola was left without Kevin de Bruyne, one of his best. Furthermore, the famous coach still could not count on the John Stones - Aymeric Laporte stopper duo.

Dinamo once again came out with three stoppers. As against Atalanta, in front of Livakovic was Theophile, Peric, and Dilaver, with Stojanovic and Leovac as the backs. In the midfield were Moro, Ademi, Olmo, and Orsic with Petkovic on offense.

Over 1,500 fans traveled from Zagreb to see the spectacle against the Premier League champions. 

Dinamo held their own in the first half, which ended without goals thanks to a stellar defense that made sure Aguero, Mahrez, and David Silva saw none of Dinamo's goal. 


However, whether Dinamo would be able to keep up this stamina in the second half was in question. 

While Dinamo had a few chances to attack at the beginning of the first half, which failed to come to fruition thanks to careless mistakes, City piled on the pressure and put Dinamo’s defense to work much harder than in the first. 

Guardiola subbed Raheem Sterling on for Bernardo Silva in the 57th minute in the hope of some action, and you could tell the celebrated coach was uneasy his side hadn't scored yet.

But then it finally happened for City in the 66th minute - Raheem Sterling scored for 1:0. City dominated and held the majority of the possession in the second half, and Dinamo struggled to get past the halfway line. Dinamo's defense continued denying some of football's biggest players, though a quick counter in extra-time saw Phil Foden score for 2:0, which was the final score of the game. 

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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Champions League: Dinamo Zagreb Shocks Atalanta 4:0 at Maksimir

September 18, 2019 - Dinamo Zagreb opened their seventh Champions League appearance against Atalanta at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb on Wednesday. 

And what a night it was.

Dinamo shocked Atalanta 4:0 in their first Group C match of the Champions League group stage on Wednesday in Zagreb. 

The Croatian champion won 4:0 with goals by Marin Leovac and Mislav Orsic. Leovac opened Dinamo's scoring spree in the 11th minute after a cross by Stojanovic, and Orsic scored 20 minutes later with a masterful shot from 16 meters. At the end of the first half, Orsic had scored for 3:0. And Dinamo wasn't done yet. 

In the 68th minute, Orsic curved the ball around the keeper for 4:0 - and he bagged himself a hat trick, too.

More than 30,000 fans welcomed the return of the Champions League to Maksimir, including 3,000 Italian fans who also made the trip to Zagreb. 

This was a historic match for the Italian club as they have never played in the strongest European competition. Atalanta's lineup also features Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic, a former member of Hajduk Split.

On the other hand, in Dinamo’s past six a Champions League appearances, they have not made it out of the group stage - and in the 36 games played, Dinamo has won four, drawn five, and recorded 27 defeats with a goal difference of 22:82. However, Dinamo advanced to the round of 16 of Europa League last season, though Benfica eliminated them.

It is interesting to note that before the match against Atalanta, Dinamo had lost their last three games against Italian clubs. Most recently, in the 2016/17 Champions League group stage, Dinamo lost home and away to Juventus.

In the other Group C match on Wednesday, Manchester City topped Shakhtar Donetsk 3:0. 

Dinamo Zagreb will meet Manchester City next on October 1 at Etihad Stadium. 

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