Dinamo Zagreb vs Astana – Tuesday, August 14, 19:00 BST/20:00 CEST – Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia
Dinamo Zagreb are almost there. The Croatian side made the long, difficult, trip to Kazakhstan last week and managed to walk away with a 2-0 victory.
Now Dinamo Zagreb are just 90 minutes away from the Champions League playoffs where they would face the Swiss club Young Boys from Bern. That result in Kazakhstan has, in fact, given the club significant confidence as the reigning Croatian champions also managed a 2-1 victory on Friday against Slaven Belupo.
With that result, Dinamo are now on seven points in the domestic 1.HNL after three matches. The games are keep coming thick and fast for Dinamo, in fact, with Dinamo once again in action on Friday.
Being immersed in league play in mid-August, however, might have been crucial for the Croatians. FC Astana, after all, are already mid-season.
The Kazakhstan Premier League uses the old Soviet March to November match calendar and, as a result, are 22 matches into the season. Furthermore, Astana, in the past, have made the most out of their home advantage.
Clubs from Europe have to travel up to seven hours on the plane to make it to Kazakhstan’s capital. Hence, Dinamo’s away result will provide crucial as Astana now are the travelling side having to fly seven hours from Astana to Zagreb.
Hence, Zagreb will be massive favourites to advance on Tuesday, and it would be a big surprise should Astana find a way back into the tie.
Dinamo Zagreb vs Astana – Players to look out for:
Mario Gavranović #11 – Dinamo Zagreb
The Swiss-Croatian forward Mario Gavranović has found a second life in his career at Dinamo Zagreb. Once considered among the best talents in Swiss football Gravranović failed to break into the first team at Schalke after joining the club from Yverdon-Sport in 2010. A loan stint to Mainz and an eventual transfer to FC Zürich did not improve his situation. In 2015 Gavranović joined Rijeka, and his career took off. Dinamo Zagreb signed the striker in the 2017/18 winter transfer window, and Gavranović led his club to the 2018 Croatian championship.
Antonio Rukavina #2 – Astana
Serbian national team player Antonio Rukavina joined Astana on July 4, 2018, from La Liga side Villarreal. A member of Serbia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad Rukavina has been brought in to add international experience to the squad. The Serbian wing-back has played in Germany and Spain before heading to Kazakhstan. Playing 17 La Liga games last season Rukavina has seen his game time diminish, however, and is now playing in Kazakhstan for a final pay cheque.
Dinamo Zagreb vs Astana – Match Stats
- Astana and Dinamo Zagreb faced each other for the first time in the first leg of this qualifier.
- Astana were the first team from Kazakhstan to reach the Champions League group stage and the first club to reach the knockout stage of a UEFA competition.
- Astana eliminated Sutjeska Nikšić from Montenegro in the first round of qualifying and Midtjylland, from Denmark, in the second round.
- Dinamo Zagreb knocked out Hapoel Be’er Sheva, from Israel, in the previous round.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb vs Astana – 2-0
Dinamo Zagreb vs Astana – Lineups
Zagorac – Leovac, Perić, Benković, Moharrami – Olmo, Sunjić, Fiolić – Orsić, Gavranović, Hajrović
Head Coach: Nenad Bjelica
Eric – Shomko, Anicic, Postnikov, Rukavina – Maevskiy – Henrique, Muzhikov, Kleinheisler, Tomasov – Kabananga
Head Coach: Roman Grygorchuk
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.