Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host Dinamo Zagreb at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Arsenal’s defeat in the reverse fixture proved that Dinamo Zagreb can be a very tricky opponent, with manager Zoran Mamic creating a well-drilled side capable of striking on the counter-attack. That is likely to be their approach at the Emirates on Tuesday evening.
Mamic has used two separate systems in the Champions League so far this season, using a 4-3-3 for matches against Arsenal and Bayern Munich, before flipping his midfield trio and deploying a 4-2-3-1 system for the back-to-back games against Olympiakos. It remains to be seen whether Mamic has changed his Plan A and 4-2-3-1 is now the default system, or whether he simply uses 4-3-3 in the trickier games.
"Dinamo have lacked goalscoring threat from their centre-forwards"
Either way, Mamic can depend upon a good goalkeeper, Eduardo. The backline is talented but has lacked a reliable centre-back combination, with Jeremy Taravel the defence’s clear leader. The full-backs are both talented in an attacking sense, with right-back Alexandru Ma?el very comfortable in possession, while on the opposite flank Josip Pivaric is more aggressive and often plays surprisingly high up the pitch for a full-back.
Part of the reason for Mamic’s change in formation was the fact his holding midfielder in the 4-3-3, Arijan Ademi, failed a doping test and therefore hasn’t appeared since the defeat to Bayern on Matchday Two. Instead, number 8 Domagoj Antolic is another in a lone line of reliable Croatian midfield distributors and plays good passes into the attacking player, while Paulo Machado is more of a box-to-midfielder despite wearing number 10.
The true playmaker, though, is Marco Rog, an inventive attacking midfielder adept at finding space and dribbling past opponents, he’s the most obvious link between the defensive section of the side and the three attackers.
The main wing threat comes from Algerian El Arbi Soudani, a mazy dribbler who can produce moments of magic but also loses the ball fairly regularly too. His scoring record for both club and country is excellent, although he’s yet to have a major impact on this Champions League campaign. On the left, Junior Fernandes is an ever-present and can also move into the box to offer a goal threat, and is surprisingly more notable for his aerial prowess rather than his dribbling skills - long goal-kicks are often sent towards him.
Dinamo have lacked goalscoring threat from their centre-forwards. Marko Pjaca is very quick but looks more like a winger than a striker capable of leading the line, while fellow youngster Armin Hodzic is more natural upfront and has a fine scoring record at domestic level but has come up short in this competition. There’s also a third striker battling for one role: Angelo Henriquez played a part in Chile’s successful Copa America campaign in the summer and is more accustomed to this level of football - but is usually a dangerous supersub.
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