Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side travel to Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League opener on Wednesday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Dinamo Zagreb are essentially the Croatian version of the Arsenal Invincibles - last season, they became the first team to win the Croatian top division without losing a single game, and therefore will provide tough opposition.
In their qualification campaign for the Champions League, however, they struggled defensively, and haven’t been helped by the loss of star centre-back Jozo Simunovic, who joined Celtic on transfer deadline day. They’ll need to defend solidly as a team, probably in a deep 4-5-1 shape, to frustrate the Gunners. They can call on a fine goalkeeper - Portuguese shot-stopper Eduardo was one of the star performers at World Cup 2010.
"On the flanks, Dinamo have two dangerous players"
Dinamo have two particularly impressive, combative central midfielders. Another Portuguese international, Paulo Machado, is a useful box-to-box midfielder and a feisty tackler, while captain Arijan Ademi is in a similar mould. These two are capable of controlling the midfield zone, and distributing play neatly out wide.On the flanks, Dinamo have two dangerous players. On the left, number 20 Marko Pjaca starts high up the pitch and loves moving inside onto his right foot before shooting powerfully, while right-sided El Arbi Hillel Soudani goes down the line more. Despite wearing number 2, he’s a natural winger.The side is spearheaded by Angelo Henriquez, once of Manchester United, who often came on as a substitute to play up front alongside Alexis Sanchez during Chile’s successful Copa America campaign on home soil this summer. Although considered an Alexis-esque player during his formative years with Universidad de Chile, since moving to Dinamo he’s become more of a penalty box prowler, and now scores plenty of goals by getting on the end of crosses, despite being only 5’11. He also has speed to go in behind the defence, and therefore Arsenal must always be aware of his movement.
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