Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v Dinamo Zagreb (and we are raring to go!)
At the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Kick-off at 20:00
After our four-match unbeaten run and Bale, Kane and Son on form, every Spurs fan will be looking forward to this game with excitement in their hearts. Nevertheless, some players will be rested while others will be given a chance. We mustn’t forget that we’ve also got an important game on Sunday against the team from planet Uranus…, more anus than Urrrr… but that is for another day to analyse. In this preview, we need to concern ourselves with Thursday’s game.
A bit about Dinamo Zagreb
Dinamo Zagreb’s has won 21 Croatian First League titles, which is the highest in Croatian football. The team is also the most successful Croatian Cup competitor, appearing so far in 22 of the Cup’s 28 staged finals, 15 of which they have won. The club also holds the record for most Croatian Supercup titles, appearing in ten matches and winning six times. Also, the team managed to achieve the double eleven times, being both the Prva HNL champions and the Croatian Cup winners from 1996 to 1998, again from 2007 to 2009, from 2011 to 2012 and most recently from 2015 to 2018.
When Dinamo competed in the Yugoslav football league system (that is before the country was broken up), they were Yugoslav First League champions four times. The team had won 7 Yugoslav Cup editions. The club also won 52 official domestic titles and two competitive international tournaments, the 1966–67 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 1976–77 Balkans Cup, making it a grand total of 54 titles won. Very impressive, so they won’t be no pushover.
Before we go into the Zagreb game, let us have a bit of Liverpool cheering up!
So; a bit of nostalgia and good news, more so as Liverpool FC are riding so high (sorry, low) at the moment. If there should be any Reds reading this and feeling down, let me give you some good nostalgic news (or not, as the case may be). Twenty-six years go (Thursday 11th March 1995), we played the smack-head-reds in the FA Cup sixth Rd. And this was away (mind you), not at our ground, but at the smackheads ground. Goals from Teddy Sheringham and the Germany bomber (no, not Klopp), but Klinsmann booked us a place in the Semi-Finals, only to be knocked out by another Liverpool team, but from the blue part of Liverpool. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the part that loves chewing toffees. I was at that match (that is the Liverpool game and not Everton’s) to watch a magnificent performance by our boys, even though the Reds went ahead before half time. But didn’t we celebrate when our two goals went in! We jumped for joy (a lovely girl!). After the game, I walked back to my car with Liverpool supporters beside me, with their heads pointing down towards the ground. You couldn’t hear a titter from them. Of course, I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want my head kicked in… then I was only in my forties. Ready to take on anybody, other than crazed lunatic psychopaths who looked like somebody had just nibbled off their testicles in a fit of sadomasochism (which is probably a school holiday in Liverpool). But enough of this banter, I hear you say, and back to more important things, like our game against Dinamo Zagreb.
We will be looking to stretch our winning streak when we host Dinamo Zagreb in the first leg of our Europa League last-16 tie this Thursday evening.
We have won four games in a row in all competitions, though our opponents Zagreb have been in even better form of late, winning eight matches in a row.
We appear to have turned a corner since the end of last month; that is, performance and results wise. In that four-match run, we scored 17 and conceded just four during that run, culminating in a 4-1 league victory against Palace on Sunday. Out of all those four matches, our win over Palace was our most inspiring victory of them all, with Kane, Son, Moura and Bale linking together brilliantly in attack.
Our previous Europa game was when we eased past Wolfsberger in the last round, following up a 4-1 away win with a 4-0 victory on home soil, but this game with Zagreb will be a lot tougher.
Giovani Lo Celso remains our only fitness doubt, though Serge Aurier is unlikely to be risked after sustaining a knock. Joe Rodon will also play no part on Thursday as he was not registered to play in the Europa League.
Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Japhet Tanganga and Tanguy Ndombele are among those pushing for recalls, with the likes of Kane, Bale and Son likely to be given a breather.
My possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Tanganga, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Hojbjerg, Ndombele; Lamela, Alli, Bergwijn; Vinicius
Mourinho is expected to make some changes to our lineup with next weekend’s North London derby in his mind, but we should still have sufficient quality to beat our visitors.
My Prediction: 3-1
Dinamo Zagreb and we have met only once in European competition; we beat Dinamo 4-0 at home during the group stages of the Uefa Cup 2008-09, a game in which Darren Bent scored a hat-trick.
We have played Croatian opposition on seven previous occasions, with six of those being against Hajduk Split. We have won five times and lost twice, with both defeats away to Hajduk (1984 and 1991).
Dinamo Zagreb have lost nine of their last 10 matches against English sides in European competition, winning the other game 2-1 against Arsenal in the Champions League group stages in 2015.
Dinamo Zagreb have won each of their last six matches in the Europa League, embarking on their longest ever winning run in major European competition.
Harry Kane has scored 28 goals in his last 33 starts for us in major European competition, including seven in his previous six.
Tottenham Hotspur Europa League form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):
Dinamo Zagreb Europa League form:
Dinamo Zagreb form (all competitions):
Well, that is that and now the waiting game. Fingers crossed, and Come On You Spurs!
Take care and be safe, Glenn