Young Boys vs Dinamo Zagreb – Wednesday, August 22, 20:00 BST/21:00 CEST – STADE DE SUISSE, Bern, Switzerland
Bern based club Young Boys finally managed to break through FC Basel’s dominance last season. Young Boys finished the 2017/18 Swiss Super League in first place for the first time since 1986.
The architect of that success, however, is gone. After three years in charge, in which turned Young Boys from a perennial loser to a national champion, Austrian head coach Adi Hütter left the club to take over the Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.
Cultivated during his time at Red Bull Salzburg Hütter, however, leaves behind a playing culture that sees Young Boys play attractive pressing football. His replacement Gerardo Seoane seems to continue the tradition of 4-2-2-2 attacking football left by Hütter.
Since taking over, Young Boys have won four out of four in the Swiss Super League and lead the table five points ahead of FC Basel.
Dinamo Zagreb, in the meantime, are on top again. The Croatian club was well represented at the 2018 FIFA World Cup final. 14 former Dinamo players were part of the Croatia squad that reached the final in Russia.
Furthermore, after finishing second in the 2016/17 1.HNL season behind Rijeka Dinamo won the league in 2018. As a result, Dinamo are now trying to return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016/17 season.
Champions League football is paramount for a club that relies on transfers and UCL football to stay alive. Dinamo’s academy is second to none but this year’s squad lacks an obvious talent that can be turned into cash.
The club earned €24.5 million by selling Filip Benković to Leicester, Ante Ćorić to Roma and Borna Sosa to VfB Stuttgart. Money that is essential to keep the club going now Champions League football is essential to keep Dinamo going.
For both clubs, there is plenty on the line. Dinamo, however, may have lost too much substance this summer giving Young Boys the edge to advance.
Young Boys vs Dinamo Zagreb – Players to look out for:
Kevin Mbabu #43 – Young Boys
Kevin Mbabu will be closely watched during this Champions League playoff stage. The Swiss right-back is linked with a move to RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim and Schalke. Champions League football without a doubt would mean that Mbabu will stay in Switzerland for one more season. But market mechanisms means that the 23-year-old is high up on the list among Germany’s top clubs, who are looking to strengthen their backline.
Dominik Livaković #40 – Dinamo Zagreb
Dominik Livaković was part of Croatia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad. Livaković is also the last true super talent left in Dinamo’s squad. The keeper certainly has a bright future, and a strong Champions League performance could see him join a club in Western Europe very soon.
Young Boys vs Dinamo Zagreb – Match Stats
- Swiss champions taking on Croatian titleholders
- YB aiming to make #UCL group stage debut
- Dinamo last featured at that level in 2016/17
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Young Boys vs Dinamo Zagreb – 3-1
Young Boys vs Dinamo Zagreb – Lineups
von Ballmoos – Benito, von Bergen, Wüthrich, Mbabu – Sow, Sanogo – Suljmani, Fassnacht – Hoarau, Mouni Ngamaleu
Livaković – Leovac, Dilaver, Théophile-Catherine, Stojanović – Ademi – Orsić, Olmo, Gojak, Hajrović – Gavranović
Head Coach: Nenad Bjelica
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.