Dinamo Zagreb - Porto Preview: The Portuguese and Croatian champions clash on matchday one
Ante Cacic's outfit aim to keep up their impeccable unbeaten run as they welcome the 2004 Champions League winners to the Stadion Maksimir
By Martin Macdonald
Vrsaljko, Vida, Tonel, Ibanez
Leko, Calello, Sammir, Rukavina
Danilo, Maicon, Otamendi, Alex Sandro
Lucho, Fernando, Moutinho
Dinamo Zagreb welcome Porto to the Stadion Maksimir on Tuesday as the Champions League Group Stage gets underway with the first round of matches in Group A.
Dinamo start their European campaign without talented midfielder Milan Badelj who has moved on to German side Hamburg, but the Croatian side remain strong in the centre of midfield, with Adrian Calello and Sammir set to start in the middle of midfield. The ever-present defensive pair of Domagoj Vida and Tonel, who played every minute of qualifying, are likely to start as the centre-back partnership.
Summer signing Duje Cop is in line for a starting berth in attack in favour of Fatos Beciraj.
Porto are without commanding centre-back Rolando for the trip to Croatia as the Portuguese is serving a suspension following his dismissal against Manchester City in the Europa League last season. Maicon and Nicolas Otamendi will likely start at the back.
With Hulk's big money move to Zenit St. Petersburg having been completed, Silvestre Varela and James Rodriguez will start on either wing in support of summer recruit Jackson Martinez up front.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Dinamo have not lost in 33 games since Ante Cacic took the reins on 23 December 2011, winning 23.
- Ivan Kelava, Tonel and Domagoj Vida each played all 540 minutes of Champions League qualifying for the Croatian side.
- Dinamo conceded 22 goals in last season's group stage – a UEFA Champions League record
- Porto began last season with a 2-1 home win against
Shakhtar, but that was only their second victory in their last eight matchday one fixtures.
- While Dinamo are the only Croatian opponents Porto have faced, Dinamo have registered one victory in five attempts
against other Portuguese sides.
- Porto, in the group stage for the 17th time, lost their first two away games last season, before winning 2-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk on matchday five.
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Top 3 Predictions
Dinamo Zagreb 1-2 Porto
- 13.91 %
Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Porto
- 13.62 %
Dinamo Zagreb 1-1 Porto
- 10.44 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 21, 2012||Porto 3 - Dinamo Zagreb 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Sep 18, 2012||Dinamo Zagreb 0 - Porto 2|
|Dec 12, 2013||Dinamo Zagreb 1 - PFC Ludogorets Razgrad 2||EL|
|Nov 28, 2013||FK Chornomorets Odessa 2 - Dinamo Zagreb 1||EL|
|Nov 7, 2013||PSV 2 - Dinamo Zagreb 0||EL|
|Oct 24, 2013||Dinamo Zagreb 0 - PSV 0||EL|
|Oct 3, 2013||PFC Ludogorets Razgrad 3 - Dinamo Zagreb 0||EL|
|4||Maicon Pereira Roque||Defender|
|-||Christian Twasam Atsu||Striker|
The Brazilian will have to step up to the plate as Dinamo's most potent attacking midfielder after the departure of Milan Badelj, but from what we have seen so far it looks as if he is up to the challenge. Expect him to drive his side forward from midfield.
A deadline day move to Tottenham failed to materialise for the Portuguese so it will be interesting to see his reaction when he dons the Porto shirt in Europe again. If he can carry through his form from the European Championships into the Champions League, he will be a top player in the competition.
Dinamo Zagreb have notched up a very impressive unbeaten run of 33 games since Ante Cacic took over in December 2011, but they will not have faced a calibre of opposition like Porto too often. Stadion Maksimir is usually a difficult place for travelling teams but expect the champions to earn a point in Croatia. The home advantage of Dinamo and the attacking talent of Porto should see both sides cancel each other out.