GNK Dinamo Zagreb profiled
FC Bayern have played 200 Champions League matches so far, but they have never been up against a Croatian team. This is about to change: on Tuesday evening the Bavarians host Dinamo Zagreb at the Allianz Arena on the second matchday in Group F. fcbayern.de presents the Croatian serial champions who surprisingly won their first match against Arsenal 2-1.
Dinamo -- full name: Građanski nogometni klub Dinamo Zagreb -- have an eventful history reflected in many name changes. The club was founded as 1. HSK Građanski in 1911; from 1945 it was called FD Dinamo, from 1950 NK Dinamo; in 1991 it was changed to HAŠK-Građanski, in 1993 to NK Croatia, in 2000 to NK Dinamo. It was not until 2010 that the club was renamed GNK Dinamo, their current name. Many of the most famous Croatian footballers played for the club in their youth, for instance Davor Suker, Luka Modric and the two former Bayern pros Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic.
Dinamo Zagreb are the gold standard in Croatia and the domestic champions every year for the last decade. In total the Blues have clinched 17 national championship titles and 13 cup victories. The biggest success in the club's history was the European Fairs Cup title in 1967, the predecessor to the UEFA Cup. In the final Dinamo defeated Leeds United 2-0 on aggregate.
Dinamo Zagreb have played their home matches at the Maksimir Stadium since 1948. It is located in the identically named district in the north east of Zagreb and has a 35,000 capacity; however, fewer than 500 fans turned out for their last league match. The unroofed arena was renovated in 2011, the pitch is now surrounded by blue artificial grass in lieu of a running track. As the first leg is in Munich, FCB will not become acquainted with the stadium until 9 December.
In the all-time Champions League table (including the European Champion Clubs' Cup) Dinamo Zagreb are ranked 109th. The Croatians are taking part in the competition for the fifth time. The last time they participated was in the 2012/13 campaign, but they have never made the knockout stages. The recent 2-1 victory over Arsenal was Dinamo's first home win since 29 September 1999, when they beat Sturm Graz 3-0. Zagreb have lost their last six away matches and are without a victory in nine on the road. Their last away win was almost 17 years ago, a 1-0 victory against Ajax in November 1998.
Last season's double winners are once again Croatia's top club. After 11 matchdays Dinamo are unbeaten and top of the table, already on their way to an eleventh championship title in a row. Dinamo have not lost in 45 matches - the last defeat in a competitive fixture dates back to November 2014 when they fell to Romanian club Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League group stage, squandering their chance to get through to the knockout rounds.
Zoran Mamic has been in charge of Dinamo since October 2013. The former Bundesliga pro, who made 83 appearances for Bochum and Leverkusen, took over from Branko Ivanović who was dismissed after only two months in the job. Mamic was Dinamo's sporting director back then and was set to be interim coach only until the end of the year. But under the auspices of the former Croatian international, who took part in the 1998 World Cup, the Blues continued their national domination. The day after the match at the Allianz Arena is Mamic' 44th birthday.
Two former Bundesliga stars are among the better-known players. Gordon Schildenfeld played for MSV Duisburg and Eintracht Frankfurt, joining Zagreb from Dynamo Moscow in pre-season. The other is Junior Fernandes from Chile, who played for Bayer Leverkusen in 2012. After only six Bundesliga matches the forward was loaned out to Dinamo where he played convincingly from the start, prompting Dinamo to sign him in 2014. Fellow Chilean Angelo Henriquez, who has already scored five goals in the current campaign, joined the Croatian champions in the summer. Armin Hodzic from Bosnia and Algerian international El Arbi Hilal Soudani are Dinamo's other forwards.
Mamic has usually relied on an aggressive 4-3-3 formation with the offensive trio Soudani (right), Henriquez, and Fernandes (left). Behind them, Marco Rog is a skilled and dangerous midfielder. However, in the first match against Arsenal Zagreb played defensively; from the bench, 20-year-old Rog and Henriquez watched their team rely on counter-attacks. The tactics proved fully successful: after a barren spell lasting 16 years Dinamo won their first match in the elite club competition.