How did they qualify?
The side from the Croatian capital wrapped up a 10th consecutive domestic title last season, finishing 13 points above their nearest challengers and remaining unbeaten throughout. Whilst no-one would argue this puts them on a par with Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ from 12 years ago, the Gunners will have to be watchful of a team full of confidence after such a successful campaign. Undoubtedly the underdogs of the group, Dinamo look set to fight it out with Olympiacos for third place and a crack at the Europa League.
Record in Europe:
Like other group opponents Olympiacos, Dinamo have not yet found a way to take their all-conquering domestic form into continental competition. They haven’t made it out of the group stage in any European competition since reaching the first knock-out round of the UEFA Cup in 2006/07, and bearing in mind they have competed in every season since then it is hardly a record to strike fear into their opponents. Their best ever European run came way back in 1960/61, when they reached the last-four of the Cup Winner’s Cup before being defeated by Fiorentina.
Who’s the boss?
Former Dinamo player Zoran Mamic has been in charge of the club since 2013, and has a 70% win ratio across his two years at the helm; a record Tim Sherwood would be proud of. Mamic made 171 appearances in two spells at the heart of the Zagreb back four before making the move into management. Loved by the fans due to his success on and off the field with Dinamo, he enhanced his legendary status yet further in December 2013 when he led the side to their biggest ever win in the Eternal Derby against Hajduk Split, as his team cruised to a 5-0 victory.
How they’ll play:
Having finished with a goal difference of +64 in the Croatian league last season it would be natural to assume that Dinamo will go on the attack, but this would be a naïve approach against the likes of Arsenal and Bayern. Mamic is likely to pack the midfield against the aforementioned two sides to try and scrape a point, but the Croats are likely to be more ambitious against Olympiacos in the hope that they can nick third place.
Zagreb scored 85 goals in 34 league matches last season, and the chief scorer of those was Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez. The 21-year old was signed by Manchester United in 2012 but never made a first-team appearance at Old Trafford, however he did play in the Premier League on loan at Wigan and picked up an FA Cup winners medal having been an unused substitute in the Latics’ 1-0 triumph over Manchester City. Henriquez signed for Dinamo permanently this summer after finding the net 30 times in 37 appearances in all competitions last season whilst on loan from United. He also featured in Chile’s victorious Copa America squad in the summer, coming off the bench to play in extra-time in the final against Argentina.