Manchester City travel to Zagreb on the back of their disappointing defeat in the Manchester derby on Saturday, and Pep Guardiola’s side will be desperate for a response
Dinamo Zagreb – Champions League C
Venue: Stadoin Maksimir
Kick Off: 17:55
TV Channel: BT Sport
With Manchester City already through as group winners, the side that Pep Guardiola will opt to play could have a huge bearing upon the game, especially when considering that must win nature of it for Dinamo Zagreb. Defeat to Manchester United has upped the pressure on the Citizens, however Guardiola will use this as an opportunity to blood in youngsters and allow plenty of players a rest, and this will play into the hands of Zagreb
Zagreb sit third in the group, and need a victory to have any hope of qualifying, whilst relying upon an Atalanta win or draw up against the Ukrainian Champions Shakhtar Donetsk.
Averaging just 40% possession in games, the Croatian side may be required to come out on the front foot, something that they are not used to having to do so against such a high class of opposition. A tight game would suit City, and they will be happy to let the Croatian side dictate play early on, allowing their youngsters into the game, and will look to hit Zagreb on the break. It could see a tight affair to begin with, and as the game draws on, and news filters through from Ukraine of the result there, the ongoing context of the match will certainly change.
The first meeting between these two sides saw Manchester City run out 2-0 winners, with City having to be patient whilst looking for a breakthrough. Raheem Sterling scored after 65 minutes, before Phil Foden added a second in added time, and the Croatian side could only string together 100 passes in the whole game. With only two shots to show for their trip to Manchester, it shows the mammoth task the Croatian side have on their hands, and they will be looking to the likes of talented Spaniard Dani Olmo to provide the breakthrough on Wednesday night.
Zagreb have been able to welcome back Amer Gojak, meaning that there are no new injury worries for the Croatian side
Manchester City should be able to welcome back Oleksandr Zinchenko, but Sergio Aguero and John Stones are expected to miss out.
Head to Head:
Dinamo Zagreb – 0 Wins
Draws – 0
Manchester City – 1 Win
Manchester City have lost just one of their last 14 Champions League matches
Dinamo Zagreb’s only win in their last 16 Champions League matches came on the opening week, with a win over Atalanta
Discipline has been an issue for Zagreb in the Champions League this season, with 13 YC and 1 RC to their name in 5 matches
Dinamo Zagreb Last 5 (All Competitions): W D L W W
Manchester City Last 5 (All Competitions): W D D W L
A tough match to call given the context of the group, and City’s potential team selection, I’d approach the City win with caution until the teams are announced. A lack of attacking threat was evident in the first encounter, however Zagreb have shown a strong counter attacking ability against the weaker sides in the group, and as a result they will be confident of threatening the City defence at some point throughout the game.
Zagreb will look to stay in the game for as long as possible, and with City not needing to press on early, a draw at half time would be no surprise. Furthermore, with Zagreb subsequently being required to press on in search of a winner at some point, the gaps should open up for City, and as a result the Draw HT, Manchester City FT option at 22/5 does stand out.
After netting in the first encounter between the two sides, and being desperate to show his class, Phil Foden takes appeal in the anytime goalscoring market at 9/2. He has proved his attacking prowess when on International duty for the England U21s, and will be keen to mark a start with a goal. There will be a large responsibility placed upon him in a potentially young team, and as a result, he definitely carries value at such a long price.