Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb are set to host Spanish Giants Real Madrid at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, Croatia, in a UEFA Champions League group fixture on Wednesday, September 13. This is Real Madrid’s 17th appearance in the league; the Spanish side have managed to get past the group stage, in all their previous 16 seasons. In contrast, this is only Dinamo Zagreb’s making their third appearance in the Champions League group stages after 1998/99 and 1999/00.
This is the first meeting between these sides; Dinamo Zagreb have had a poor record against Spanish teams, having won just one of 10 contests with teams from Spain. That win came when they beat Villarreal in the Europa League last season.
Dinamo will look to 19-year-old Mario Situm to provide the spark against a patently stringer team, in Real Madrid. Situm has been an instanmt success after scoring in the 12th minute of his debut match in February 2011. In the current season, the teenage striker has three goals in five matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo is Real Madrid’s lynchpin. The prolific scorer has already netted four goals in five mathces this season. Ronaldo exemplifies the attack oriented game that Real Madrid are famed for; the Spanish club have only failed to score once in their last 13 Champions League matches. In Karim Benzema, Real Madrid have another prolofic goal scorer, the striker found the rival net once every 62 minutes, in the Champions League last season, to score six goals in 373 minutes of action.
Dinamo Zagreb’s keeper Ivan Kelava will have his task cut out as he tries to keep a clean sheet in the face of one of the most potent club attacks, led by Ronaldo.
Kelava’s counterpart, Spain’s world cup winning captain, Iker Casillas, brings a wealth of experince to bear, having played 112 games, a record for goalkeepers in the Champions League, since 1992-93.
Real Madrid have a balanced team with strength in all areas. On the one hand they have extremely talented attackers in Ronaldo, Benzema, Ozil and Higuain; on the other, they have world class back-line with the likes of Casillas, Pepe, Carvaho and Marcelo.
Dinamo will rely on defender Tonel to lead the back-line, with assistance from youngsters Ibanez and Kovacic, while Situm and Rokavina will be expected to carry the attack to their accomplished rivals.
Real Madrid are bookies’ favourites to win the match, attracting odds of 2/9, while a Dinamo win is quoted at 14/1 and a draw at 5/1.
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An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.