Match Preview: Dinamo Zagreb v Tottenham Hotspur

Match Preview: Dinamo Zagreb v Tottenham Hotspur

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THU 18 MAR 2021EUROPA LEAGUE – ROUND OF 16 – 2ND LEG 17:55

Venue: Maksimir

Mother’s Day Sunday was a terrible day all around. Not only did we not try against the Gooners (we tried to be clever and sat back) and lost, but that my mother died as well (93). So, for many reasons, you want to forget that day and move on. Now we are here and back in the Europa League. We need to make amends for our failure against the Ur-anus team (not yours, there’s!). After that game, we’ve got Villa at Villa Park.

So, let us go straight to the team news for Thursday’s game.

Harry Kane will start the Europa League’s last-16 second-leg tie with Dinamo Zagreb. Kane was substituted in the second half of our loss at the Gooners ground on Sunday after taking a blow to his knee. Jose Mourinho said: “The game is open, and it’s an important game, so he plays for us.”

Son, who also came off during the Emirates game, has a more severe injury to his hamstring and won’t be playing.

Kane and Son have combined for 14 goals this season – a Premier League record between two players; unfortunately, they won’t be able to unite again to build on that record for this game.

Steven Bergwijn is an obvious replacement to come into the side on Thursday for Son.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will not play because of suspension, so either Harry Winks or Moussa Sissoko could come in, or indeed both if Tanguy Ndombele is rested.

Kane’s two goals in the first-leg win over Dinamo Zagreb took him to 26 goals for the season. He also has 16 assists. Son has 18 goals and 16 assists in all competitions this season. Despite his injury, Son was named in South Korea’s squad for next week’s international friendly with Japan, but Mourinho says he will not travel if he is injured. “If a player is injured, it doesn’t matter if it’s a friendly or official match,” said the Portuguese. “If we get to next week and he is injured, and we can prove that to the Korean association, then what can they do? If a player cannot play for the club, he cannot play for the country.”

Zagreb is in a crisis, but Mourinho insists the tie still go ahead. They have suffered a big blow in the build-up to the second leg, with their head coach Zoran Mamic forced to resign after being handed a four-year prison sentence for fraud. Damir Krznar, who was Mamic’s assistant, has been put in charge and insists the team will follow the approach he and his predecessor worked on before his departure.

Despite us holding a comfortable lead in the tie and this week’s events at Dinamo, Mourinho said: “I don’t think it’s such a good lead. I feel it’s open, I don’t feel it’s game over; if we go away, lose 2-0 and play the second leg at home, I don’t feel it’s over. I feel very difficult but open, so the way to approach the game is to think that way and that we still have a match to play and to get a positive result. At the end of the 90 minutes, if we lose 1-0 or 2-1 or even 3-1, we would qualify, but if we qualify with a defeat in this game, I’d not be happy. That’s the way I want the players to think, and that’s the way we want to play. We don’t go there to defend a lead, we go there to win a game.”

My thoughts and prediction

Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur

One goal for us on Thursday will leave Zagreb requiring at least four to progress; that is why I am going for three goals. If we get the first, then the rest should easily follow as they will be deflated by then.

Zagreb have an excellent defensive record, but they have been rocked by the news of manager Mamic being sent to jail, and I  cannot see an away victory.

My possible starting lineup:

Lloris; Doherty, Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Lamela, Alli, Bergwijn; Kane

Dinamo Zagreb Europa League form:

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Dinamo Zagreb form (all competitions):

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Tottenham Hotspur Europa League form:

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Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):

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So there you have it. I think we will win by 5-0 aggregate. Once that is over, we need to get back to the league and get ready to face Villa, who won’t be a pushover but will be a must-win game (that is, if we want to take a place in the top four seriously).

Be safe and take care, Glenn

COYS!