Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Rakitić Returns to Maksimir: Dinamo and Sevilla to Meet in Europa League Knockout Round

December 14, 2021 - Dinamo and Sevilla will meet in the Europa League knockout round playoffs in February after the draw was held in Nyon, France, on Monday. 

Dinamo Zagreb will play against Sevilla and Ivan Rakitić in the Europa League round of 16 playoffs. The draw was held at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Monday. 

Sevilla will host the first match on February 17, 2022,  and the return match will be played a week later in Zagreb.

After being relegated from the Champions League, Sevilla has hopes to win the Europa League as they will host the final and have been successful in this competition in recent years. Namely, Sevilla won the Europa League in 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2020.

"We have difficult matches ahead of us, but I hope we will learn something from playing in the Champions League," said former Croatia national team player Ivan Rakitić on Tuesday after being knocked out of the Champions League.

"We will play again in the Europa League, a competition that we are good at and will enjoy," added Rakitić, who is the captain of Sevilla until the injured Jesús Navas returns.

Sevilla is currently the second-placed team in La Liga and will be a tough rival for the Croatian champions, who were threatened by other greats in the draw, such as Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund.

"What to say about the draw? I am delighted and proud; it will be two big and difficult games. It is nice on the one hand to play against our club, against Dinamo, but also difficult because I have to fight against our club. I would like it better that we see each other in the quarterfinals or semifinals, not now. I am happy to come to Croatia for the first time in the club competition against our club, and it will be exciting in any case," said Rakitić after the draw. 

"We will have to play our best football, quite clearly, because Dinamo is a great European team that knows how to play such games. I know them very well; there will certainly be a lot of conversations with the coach and the club about the game; I am happy to come home and play at my Maksimir. It will be nice, but also strange, for the first time as a guest, but it will be a very nice and emotional experience for sure."

He was asked what kind of welcome he expects at Maksimir as a former national team player.

"Let it be however they want it to be. I hope for a very nice and good welcome; everyone knows how much Croatia, our football and our clubs mean to me. That is why I am very sorry that I have to fight against Dinamo. I can't wait to be home again, in Zagreb and Maksimir, and I believe that everything will be good and positive; I can't wait for the game."

The most exciting playoff pair is Barcelona and Napoli, and Dani Olmo and his RB Leipzig will play against Real Sociedad.

The Croatian champion is among 16 clubs in the second round of the Europa League. The winners of the groups Lyon, Monaco, Spartak, Eintracht, Galatasaray, Red Star, Bayer Leverkusen, and West Ham won a direct place in the round of 16. At the same time, eight second-placed teams (Dinamo, Rangers, Sociedad, Napoli, Olympiakos, Lazio, Braga, and Betis) play in the playoffs against third-placed teams from Champions League groups, namely Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Red Bull Leipzig, Porto, Atalanta, Sevilla, and Zenik St. Petersburg.

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAY-OFF DRAW (ROUND OF 16):
SEVILLA - DINAMO

ATALANTA - OLYMPIAKOS

RB LEIPZIG - REAL SOCIEDAD

BARCELONA - NAPOLI

ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG - REAL BETIS

BORUSSIA DORTMUND - RANGERS

SHERIFF - BRAGA

PORTO - LAZIO

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Thursday, 9 December 2021

Dinamo Beats West Ham 1:0 in London for Spot in Europa League Playoffs

December 9, 2021 - Dinamo beats West Ham 1:0 in London in the last round of Group H, thus securing second place of the group and the Europa League playoff round in the spring. 

Mislav Oršić secured the victory for the Blues with a fantastic goal in the 4th minute. The Croatian champion had many more opportunities to increase the score against West Ham, which played with a rather mixed squad, and only two permanent and two other occasional first-team players, among them former Hajduk Split star Nikola Vlašić.

Rapid's away victory against Genk (0:1) also helped Dinamo, but this result would only matter if Dinamo drew or lost. 

Dinamo secured either the Europa League or Conference League even before the match against West Ham. West Ham had secured first place before the match against Dinamo, and the Blues needed at least one point in London or for Genk to lose at home to confirm second place. 

The Europa League playoff matches are on February 17 next year, and the return matches are played seven days later.

In the end, West Ham won the group with 13 points, Dinamo is second with 10, Rapid is third with six and goes and will play in the Conference League in the spring, while Genk is at the back with five points.

West Ham as the winner of the group goes directly to the round of 16, Dinamo will play in the Europa League playoffs against one of the third-placed clubs in the Champions League, while Rapid moves to the Conference League playoffs. 

The Europa League playoff draw is on December 13 in Nyon at 1 pm. The Zagreb club could face RB Leipzig, Porto, Borussia Dortmund, Sheriff, Barcelona, ​​Atalanta, Sevilla and Zenit St. Petersburg.

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Thursday, 2 December 2021

Damir Krznar Sacked as Dinamo Coach After Croatian Cup Elimination

December 2, 2021 - After Rijeka won in the Croatian Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday, the coach of the Croatian champion Dinamo, Damir Krznar, has resigned.

Krznar took over Dinamo in mid-March this year after being assistant to former coach Zoran Mamić. Recall, Mamić had to leave the Dinamo bench due to a final conviction. Krznar led the team in a 3:0 victory against Tottenham in the Europa League round of 16, reported HRT.

Dinamo has been in a crisis and lost 1:3 to Rijeka under Krznar's leadership in the Croatian Cup on Wednesday. 

Dinamo on Sunday expects the eternal derby against Hajduk in the 18th round of the First HNL and in eight days a visit to West Ham United in the last, 6th round of Europa League. 

Krznar took responsibility in a statement after the relegation in the Cup, 

"The fact that the result was not obtained, that the result was not delivered, both in the Cup and in the championship - we are limping. We have an extremely tough game against Hajduk; we enter it shaken. My moral act is to do everything for the team. Dinamo has always been in the first place. It is the team that comes first. I assess that at this moment, the team needs a positive shock. Maybe it is a good opportunity, as I address our fans, to thank them for their support, those who gave their support, and to apologize to those who did not have enough and who are dissatisfied with the reason. Right now, I may still be a little hot, but I don't think the situation will change tomorrow either. I am resigning from this position for the team to make one positive step, one mental shock, which is needed. I wish luck to the new coach; I wish luck to Dinamo," said Krznar.

Who will lead Dinamo in their next two key games will be known today after an 11 am press conference.

Željko Kopić, the head of Dinamo's football school and the most experienced of the remaining experts employed in Maksimir, should lead the team in the derby on Sunday. But, depending on that outcome, he may end the winter season on the bench.

Dinamo's management is expected to appoint a new head coach during the winter break, but more will be known after today's conference.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Europa League: Dinamo and Genk Play 1:1 at Maksimir

November 25, 2021 - Dinamo and Genk played 1:1 at Maksimir stadium on Thursday night in the 5th round of the Europe League Group H, securing at least a spot in the Conference League in the spring. If Dinamo does not lose to West Ham in the last round in London, they will play in the Europa League knockout phase. 

Dinamo and Genk met in the 5th round of the Europa League at Maksimir stadium on Thursday. A victory or a point would have brought Dinamo to the next stage of a European competition, meaning the Zagreb club would secure at least second place in the group with a new victory tonight. However, even with a defeat, the Croatian champion would not fall out completely. 

Looking only at the result of the first match against Genk, Dinamo was the absolute favorite tonight, defeating Genk away 3:0 in their first Europa League meeting at the end of September.

While both sides had their fair share of chances in the first half, Dinamo took the lead with a goal by Luka Menalo in the 35th minute. Thanks to a long ball by Theophile, Krznar's joker withstood pressure on his back to tap the ball into the back of the net for 1:0. 

Unfortunately, in the last seconds of the first half, Ugbo's crossbar shot went over the goal line to equalize at 1:1.

While there were a few close calls for both teams in the second half, neither team was able to score to keep the result even at 1:1. 

West Ham and Dinamo will face off in the final round in London on Thursday, December 9. If Dinamo does not lose to West Ham in the last round, they will play in the Europa League knockout phase. If they lose, they will move to the Conference League. 

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Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Pope Francis Gifted Dinamo Jersey at Vatican ahead of Friendly Football Match (PHOTOS)

November 24, 2021 - Pope Francis has been gifted a jersey of the Croatian champion Dinamo Zagreb as part of a Vatican trip that featured a friendly football match between the World Roma Organization in Croatia and the Pope's team Fratelli tutti, hosted by Italian club Lazio.

Croatian champion Dinamo was the main sponsor of a trip to the Vatican, organized by the Croatian delegation and the World Roma Organization in Croatia. The Zagreb club was represented by club president Mirko Barišić, reports HRT.

As part of the Vatican trip, a friendly football match was organized between the World Roma Organization in Croatia and the Pope's team Fratelli tutti, and the host of the match was the Italian club Lazio.

Before the match, the Holy Father received both teams and members of the delegations from Croatia and Italy, and on that occasion, Mirko Barišić presented the Holy Father with gifts, including the Dinamo jersey.

The event was organized by Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca, head of the Vatican's Council for Culture and Sports, in collaboration with Nikola Kriković, Toti Dedić's assistant.

"This was an extremely pleasant and beautiful trip. For me as a Christian and a Catholic, this moment of meeting the Pope means a lot, and it means a lot to Dinamo. I was pleasantly surprised that people around the Holy Father know the name Dinamo well from the sports world. Pope Francis is a very simple man, he is very careful, he cares and advocates that "small" people should not be excluded from society, and he especially cares about minorities such as the Roma. He is particularly sensitive to this topic, advocating for all people to be given equality and to be shown that they can participate equally in society. He was delighted with the role of Dinamo as a top football club that actively supported this match as a sponsor and who showed that in addition to sports results, he takes care to respect and appreciate everything that makes a man a man. Dinamo sticks not only to the results but also to the general social values. He gave us great recognition there," said the Dinamo president.

The Holy Father had a special message for the World Roma Organization, which is extremely active in Croatia and which makes great efforts to promote equal opportunities for all, and which Dinamo has repeatedly supported through various projects and cooperation over the years.

"Dear Roma friends, I know that in Croatia you are launching many sports inclusion initiatives to help each other know each other and friendship. It is a sign of hope because big childhood dreams cannot be limited by our barriers. All children have the right to grow up together, without obstacles and without discrimination. And sport is a place of encounter and equality and can build communities with bridges of friendship."

It should be reminded that Dinamo has supported the work of the World Roma Organization countless times by promoting the fight against racism and discrimination. Likewise, the club is continuously committed to providing equal opportunities for all regardless of diversity.

At the competition of the Foundation No surrender, entitled "Equal Opportunities for All", the World Roma Organization received a donation of HRK 40,000.00. The donation was given for the project of football camps for girls and boys belonging to racial and national minorities in several different parts of Croatia.

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Thursday, 4 November 2021

Europa League: Dinamo Beats Rapid Wien 3:1 at Maksimir!

November 4, 2021 - Dinamo beats Rapid 3:1 at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb in the 4th round of the Europa League Group H. 

Dinamo and Rapid Wien met in the 4th round of the Europa League Group H on Thursday at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb. In front of 7,800 spectators, Dinamo defeated Rapid 3:1, returning to second place in the standings.

With this victory, Dinamo retaliated against the Austrian team after losing in Vienna (2:1) in the last round and made an important step towards winning one of the first two spots in the group.

Rapid took the lead in the eighth minute with a goal by Christoph Knasmullner, but the Blues turned the score around by the end of the half with goals by Bruno Petković (13') and Komnen Andrić (34'). Finally, Josip Šutalo confirmed Dinamo's victory in the 83rd minute.

Dinamo opened the group stage competition with a defeat to West Ham (0:2), after which they defeated Genk away 3:0, followed by a defeat in Vienna to Rapid. On the other hand, Rapid recorded two initial losses (Genk 0:1, West Ham 0:2) and was better than the Croatian champion in the last round.

Recap

Rapid took the lead in the eighth minute of the match with a goal by Christoph Knasmullner, though their celebration was short-lived. Only five minutes later, Petković equalized. Dinamo turned the score around in the 34th minute. Petković masterfully found Bartol Franjić, who immediately played in the penalty area, and Andrić received the ball to score for 2:1. Moments after Andrić's goal, the Bad Blue Boys celebrated their 35th birthday with an impressive banner. Dinamo confirmed the victory in the 83rd minute when Šutalo scored with his head for 3:1. 

West Ham leads the group with 10 points, Dinamo has six points, Genk 4, and Rapid 3 points.

On November 25, Dinamo - Genk, and Rapid - West Ham will meet in the next round, and the group stage competition ends on December 9, when West Ham - Dinamo and Genk - Rapid are scheduled.

The group winners go directly to the round of 16, while the runners-up will play for the quarterfinals against eight runners-up from the Champions League. The third from each Europa League group continue the season in the Conference League, where they will play the playoffs for the round of 16 against others from the Conference League groups.

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 21 October 2021

Europa League Group Stage: Rapid Wien Tops Dinamo 2:1 in Vienna

October 21, 2021 - Rapid Wien tops Dinamo 2:1 in Vienna on Thursday in the 3rd round of Europa League's Group H. 

In the 3rd round match of the Europa League's Group H, Dinamo lost to Rapid Wien in front of 22,300 spectators in Vienna, recording their second defeat in the group.

After opening the competition in the group stage by losing at home to West Ham (0:2), and then recording a convincing victory against Genk (3:0) in the second round, Dinamo was again disappointed on the road in Vienna, recording a defeat that threatened their fight for one of first two spots in the group.

This loss has certainly complicated Dinamo's Europa League future, and Rapid is back in the game for a European spring after two defeats. Marco Grull (9') and Maxmillian Hofmann (34') scored in Rapid's first victory, while Mislav Oršić (24') scored for Dinamo.

Dinamo coach Damir Krznar was missing captain Arijan Ademi, Duje Čop, and Deni Jurić due to injuries tonight. Andrić was expected to play from the first minute, but coach Krznar surprised with a few moves. Luka Menalo and Amer Gojak, who have not had much time this season, got the opportunity from the first minute, while Petković was at the top of the attack.

Interestingly, the match between Rapid and Dinamo was reffed by Ukrainian Katerina Monzul (40), who was named the best referee of the elite class of Ukrainian football last year. It was her second group stage match in her career, after leading Slovan Liberec and Gent last season. 

In the second match of Group H, West Ham plays against Genk tonight in London.

West Ham leads the table with six points, Dinamo and Genk have three points each, while at the bottom is Rapid, which has lost both games.

In the fourth round, which is scheduled for November 4, the same rivals will play. This time, Dinamo will host Rapid at Maksimir, while Genk will host West Ham at Luminus Arena.

Recall, the winner from each of the eight groups will go directly to the round of 16, while the second-placed club will play for the round of 16 with the third-placed teams from the Champions League groups. Third-placed clubs from the Europa League will be included in the knockout phase of the Conference League.

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Thursday, 30 September 2021

Europa League: Dinamo Tops Genk 3:0 in Belgium

September 30, 2021 - Dinamo tops Genk away in Belgium in the second round of the Europa League Group H. 

Dinamo played the second round of the Europa League Group H against Genk in Belgium. Dinamo won 3:0 with goals from Ivanušec (10') and Petković (45 + 3' - 11m, 67 '- 11m).

Dinamo recorded their first victory in this season's Europa League. The Croatian champion played away against Genk in the 2nd round of Group H and beat the host 3:0. After losing to West Ham (0:2) in the first round, Dinamo holds second place behind the English Premier League club. 

Dinamo has visited Belgium three times since Croatian independence until this Thursday, all in Europa League matches, and won all three times without conceding a goal. This tradition continued today.

Genk opened the game better and was more dangerous through possession, but Dinamo was the one who knew how to use the chance when it appeared.

The first goal was scored by the Croatian champion in the 10th minute. Luka Ivanušec scored for the 1:0 lead. 

Before the end of the first half, Dinamo shook the goal post after Oršić's shot, the home team retaliated in the same way through Heynen, and Dinamo again had a chance to increase the lead. Duje Čop fell in the penalty area after being hit by Toma, which was reviewed by VAR and called for a penalty. In the third minute of the extra time, Bruno Petković scored for 2:0.

Petković once again had an opportunity to score from the penalty spot and did in the 67th minute. Dinamo then calmly brought the game to an end at 3:0. 

After two matches played in the group, West Ham leads the table with six points. Dinamo is in second place with three points, the same as the third-placed Genk. Rapid is in last with one point. 

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Thursday, 16 September 2021

Europa League: West Ham Beats Dinamo in Group Stage Opener at Maksimir

September 16, 2021 -  In the first round of the Europa League group stage, West Ham beats Dinamo 2:0 at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. 

Dinamo and West Ham met in the first round of the Europa League group stage on Thursday at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. Although the Croatian champion has much more experience in European competitions, West Ham's status as a solid Premier League club made them the favorite going into this match. 

Croatia national team player (and former Hajduk star) Nikola Vlašić was in West Ham's starting 11, while Bruno Petković and Mislav Oršić led Dinamo's attack. There were 12,344 spectators at the stadium, of which 859 were West Ham supporters. 

Lineups: 

Dinamo: Livaković - Šutalo, Lauritsen, Theophile-Catherine - Ristovski, Ademi, Mišić, Franjić - Ivanušec - Petković, Oršić

West Ham: Fabianski - Fredericks, Zouma, Diop, Cresswell - Rice, Souček - Vlašić, Lanzini, Fornals - Antonio

The first half was one to forget for the Croatian club and perhaps one of the worst halves they've played in Europe in the last few years. An unrecognizable Dinamo succumbed to West Ham's pressure and gave up two corners in the first 3 minutes of play. 

Dinamo's first attack didn't come until the 11th minute, and Petković and Ademi could not get past Fabianski. An Oršić shot from 30 meters out in the 20th minute almost gave Dinamo the lead, though a catastrophic mistake by Theophile-Catherine put West Ham in the lead instead. Theophile-Catherine weakly passed back to Livaković without realizing Antonio was there to score for 0:1. Livaković had to save Dinamo from another close encounter 3 minutes later. 

Dinamo struggled to find their game, and Vlašić nearly had a few chances for West Ham in the remainder of the half, but the match luckily ended 0:1 for West Ham at halftime. 

Dinamo picked up their pace at the start of the second half with an attacking play immediately in the first minute. But West Ham was quicker to increase their lead, and Declan Rice scored for 0:2 in the 51st minute.

Dinamo had a good chance 3 minutes later when Ivanušec's shot went out for a corner, and another chance again in the 60th, which just missed the goal. 

West Ham subbed out Vlašić for Bowen in the 69th minute.

Dinamo was lucky not to concede another goal in the 79th minute. Tolić pulled a counter-attack with Jurić in the 87th minute, though it was no tough task for Fabianski. 

Three minutes of injury time were added to the end of the match, which was not enough for Dinamo to get back a goal. The match ended 0:2 for West Ham. 

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Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Dinamo Prepares for West Ham at Maksimir: "We Can Repeat Tottenham"

September 14, 2021 - Dinamo Zagreb is preparing to welcome West Ham at Maksimir Stadium on Thursday to open the Europa League group stage. 

West Ham United is playing in Europe for the first time in five years. The English club played in the competition last when they were led by Slaven Bilić and were shockingly knocked out in the play-offs by Romanian club Astra Giurgiu, reports 24 Sata.

West Ham is in the group stage of the competition for the first time thanks to finishing sixth place in the Premier League last season.

And their first stop? Croatia.

Dinamo, their first group stage opponent, plays in the Europa League group stage for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons.

Nikola Vlašić (23) will once again play against Dinamo in the Europa League group stage. Recall, Vlašić met Dinamo when playing with CSKA Moscow last season and lost at Maksimir. He made his West Ham debut in the draw against Southampton last weekend (0-0).

Spaniard Pablo Fornals (25) knows it won’t be easy, even though the Hammers are favorites for bookmakers (odds 2.25 at West Ham and 3.10 at Dinamo).

"We are playing away. It will be a new experience for all of us, and I hope that we will make all West Ham fans proud," Fornals said for the official West Ham website.

Coach David Moyes has hinted that striker Michail Antonio, who is excluded from the league game and has no right to play against Manchester United at the weekend, will play in Zagreb.

"Will I try other options? He can’t play against United, and you can look at it in several ways. I don't want Mic to be without a game for a few weeks, he played a little for the national team, but I will think about it," said Moyes.

Dinamo captain Arijan Ademi (30), the club's record holder with 87 appearances in UEFA competitions, does not believe that it will be a one-way street.

"With a full stadium, with our fans, with their great support, we can repeat Tottenham. Clearly, I am an optimist; what an athlete I would be if I were not an optimist. We believed then that we could get past the Spurs, and that faith brought us that result," said the captain and continued:

"I appeal to our fans to give us the support they know against West Ham. It means a lot to us on the field; fan support is a big motivator. The louder our fans are, the higher our percentage for success. So I hope they will fill Maksimir."

The match starts at 18.45 on Thursday and will be refereed by Frenchman Ruddy Buquet (44), who refereed Dinamo in their victory against Ferencvaros in Budapest in 2019 (4-0) and was the fourth referee against Neftči in Zagreb in 2011 (3-0). He also refereed the Croatia national team in a draw against Azerbaijan in 2015 (0-0) and victory in Finland in 2016 (1-0).

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