Football 3 years ago

Preview: Dinamo Zagreb Vs Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Group Stage

  • Preview: Dinamo Zagreb Vs Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Group Stage

"Ce sont les meilleures equipes
Es sind sie allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event
Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes equipes
The champions!
Une grande reunion
Eine große sportliche Veranstaltung
The main event
Ils sont les meilleurs
Sie sind die Besten
These are the champions
Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes equipes
The champions!"

Obviously you do remember this Footballing bhajan, every single note of which strikes the ears in the same way as some ancient supernal Norse melody would do. Then again, when every single cell within is chanting this hymn, you know it's time for "The Main Event" - the UEFA Champions League, the grandeur of which mocks even the Mona Lisa.  
Think Champions League, think Arsenal, and there you go, there's a long relationship between the two, one that has lasted for the last 18 years (only Real Madrid better this record). While the camaraderie has been fairly long, it sadly hasn't been a glorious one. Time and now, the Gunners have found themselves at the mercy of their fellow European giants, and at times, even the minnows have had some fun.  

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Nonetheless, it's a new season, which, everyone knows, does carry hope alongside. While it's highly optimistic to think of Arsene's Arsenal going all the way to lift the ultimate prize this year, it'd be foolish to write them off as well because of obvious reasons. Could it be the year when Arsene Wenger finally realises his European dreams? Time will tell as the North Londoners look to begin their campaign in style against Croatian superpower Dinamo Zagreb. 

The Need to do Well in Europe

The financial austerities behind the North Londoners now, and the debts nearly paid off, there hardly are any extenuating circumstances to find shelter under, which of course means Arsenal finally need to get better on the biggest of all stages. 

Problem isn't so much the squad Arsene Wenger has, as the weak mentality is. There's no point of playing attacking Football and tearing mid-table teams to pieces, when you can't do that on the biggest of all occasions when the pressure is really high. There are so many world-class players in the current Arsenal squad, and it's time to make their experience and potential count now, so Champions League glory starts to seem a possibility.

The Fixture

Dinamo Zagreb aren't an easy team to beat by any means, more so when they are at home - Stadion Maksimir. Unbeaten over the last 11 months in their own league, Zagreb could really cause Arsenal the kind of trouble that AS Monaco did at The Emirates by getting their tactics right. To start the campaign on a better note than the previous year (Arsenal lost their opening fixture 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund in 2014/15), the Gunners - like any other English team - have got to make certain adjustments so they aren't opened up so easily as most English teams are these days when playing in the UCL. 

Unlike the Premier League, the other European leagues are generally slow in nature - the ball isn't always moving, henceforth the teams outside of England are more patient while attacking, and hit on the counter attack. The best example of this, again, is Arsenal's fixture against AS Monaco last year when the French side sat deep, and defended for the better part of the first-half, before the reigning FA Cup Champions grew frustrated and attacked fecklessly to eventually concede.

Therefore, it's about patience in attack, and a more calm and composed approach to the game for Arsenal than bravado because that only results in a trouncing, even if it's Dinamo Zagreb. 

Line-up (4-2-3-1)


Arsene Wenger

"It is important we go to Zagreb highly focused and conscious at what is at stake there," said Wenger as he stressed upon the importance of a good start. "You can be quickly out of the Champions League and we want to start well and we know we have a battle first to qualify with Bayern Munich [in the group].

"You need to find the balance between urgency and confidence and at times that is difficult as you can quickly be too confident and lose your urgency.

"We have Olympiacos and Zagreb first and we have to finish above them and the result will come down to that. I think it is important to start well because the hunger of a team is shown as well in how well you go in every competition."

Nacho Monreal

"You don’t play too many games so if you make a mistake you pay for it," he said talking to "You have to be really focused in each game and the level is higher. The difference is small but we have to be really focused.

"In every single game there is a lot of pressure [especially] when you play away, but we are accustomed to this so in this case it is more psychological than it is physical. It won’t affect us.

"We want to pass through into the next stage and we know that the favourite is probably Bayern Munich so we can’t lose against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos as well.

"It would be really positive for us to start with three points as we will have more confidence in ourselves and it is the best way to start."

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