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Real Madrid Champions League Rivals: Dinamo Zagreb

Hostile crowd in Zagreb, their most dangerous weapon.
Hostile crowd in Zagreb, their most dangerous weapon.

This is the last of Managing Madrid's series on our Champions League rivals.

In the Ajax Amsterdam's article, I said that the game in Zagreb against Dinamo worried me more than the one in Amsterdam. While Amsterdam is usually an easy-going crowd, Zagreb is exactly the opposite.

Don't get me wrong, I don't fear for our player's security. It's a Champions League game and UEFA always puts strong security measures in place to protect both the fans and the players. But I do think that the game will be hard because of the crowd. They will be pretty excited to play against Real Madrid and so will players, so I expect a very competitive game this September 14th.

This will be our first game in this Champions League, and Mourinho will not be able to stay on the bench. I don't think this is a big handicap, but with the atmosphere and the jitters that appear in the first European match of the season, I think Real Madrid will have a hard time finding the rhythm and the flow of their game. 

Dinamo Zagreb is also a weak squad. They usually play offensively against their countrymen, but the Croatian team should not be able to do so against the pressure exerted by our powerful squad.

Their squad combine Croatian players with some Argentinians and Brazilians. Their best player is Sime Vrsaljko, an amazingly talented and young right fullback. He is the fullback we should be looking for to finally establish Sergio Ramos in the center back position. Vrsaljko is only 19-years-old, so he still has a lot to develop and improve, but his potential is clear. If we do not sign him at the end of this season, expect some reasonably good teams like Palermo to make a move for him.

The rest of the team is pretty average. They've signed 22-year-old and former Bayer Leverkusen player Demadoj Vida, who used to play center back in Leverkusen, so they've strengthened their defensive line. Their main strikers are Beciraj and Rukavi--not really good players--so maybe we could give Varane some Champions League experience and keep testing Coentrao as a left back just in case Marcelo gets injured anytime this season (hopefully, not!).

Their goal in this Champions League has to be fighting against Ajax for the Europe League spot. I don't think they have any chance of qualifying for the next round.

As I've said, this game will be very close, just after the Bernabeu game against Getafe. I don't think they can beat us, but if we do not concentrate enough, then a draw might be possible, since they have the home court advantage and they might keep their team very well organized to get a 0-0. Winning this game should be a key start to this Champions League, so we better be ready for a truly competitive game.



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