Match Preview – Tottenham vs. Dinamo Zagreb

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The United Mates Keitel and Joe are joined by former guest Ante Kvartuč, the founder of CroatianSports.com, to preview the upcoming Europa League round of 16 tie between Joe’s beloved Spurs and Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb.

Icebreaker:

Zagreb is home to the bizarre Museum of Broken Relationships, which features sentimental objects from past relationships and the stories of their significance as its exhibits. On that note, today’s icebreaker for the group is things that they hate they love… essentially, what’s something the guys each like a lot but aren’t proud of.

Dinamo Zagreb Background and the Story of their Season:

Zagreb are fighting a close battle at the top of the Croatian First Football League, a league which they customarily sweep every season. Ante isn’t concerned however and thinks that Zagreb will come good domestically in the end.

In terms of their Europa campaign so far, Zagreb are flying. They nearly negotiated the group stage without conceding a single goal and would have made history in doing so, on top of that they eased past Krasnodar in the round of 32. Ante sees the likes of Petković, Oršić, Gvardiol and Livaković as key performers in this Zagreb squad and ones to look out for over the upcoming two legs against Tottenham.

Tottenham Context and the Story of their Season:

Joe asks Ante about the feeling of Croatian football fans towards Spurs given the whole ‘Crottenham’ history with the likes of Modrić, Kranjčar, Ćorluka and even Pletikosa having played for Tottenham at during the White Hart Lane era. Ante feels that the good feelings are still there, however nearly a decade on the ‘Crottenham’ sensation has lost a lot of the buzz.

Joe and Ante debate the challenge that both sides face going into the matchup. It’s not in Croatian football DNA to play with fear or give anything less than 100% on the pitch and so that is where Zagreb’s strength will lie over the two legs; whereas Tottenham’s attacking quality with players like Kane, Son, Ndombele and a resurgent Gareth Bale may simply be too much for Zagreb’s typically solid defensive line come matchday.

What Do these Teams Have to Lose?:

The consequences and expectations are vastly different for these clubs in the guys opinions. As far as Ante is concerned, this is a free hit for Zagreb who are basically playing with house money at this point of the Europa League campaign and especially coming up against a massive club like Spurs. If anything, a Zagreb win or even a great performance could see Europe’s biggest clubs come circling for some of their best players and result in the current squad being dismantled in the summer. Again, Ante is un-phased as according to him, all Zagreb does is rebuild! In Joe’s opinion, whilst a defeat to Zagreb wouldn’t necessarily mean the end for Mourinho, it would symbolize a new low point for this inconsistent José managed side.

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