Dinamo Zagreb vs. Shakhtar UEFA Champions League Pick – Nov. 6th

2020 Champions League group stage is cooking up trouble. Some teams are already one-leg through to the playoffs, some are on the brink of elimination, and others are fighting to overcome their inner demons and finally show their prowess. As always, Champions League matches bring forth that extra bit of prestige, and soccer betting enthusiasts can never get enough of it.

As the title implies, today, we’ll be focusing on Dinamo vs. Shakhtar betting predictions. It’s one of (if not the) most thrilling Wednesday contests that ought to decide the team that’s going to the playoffs alongside Manchester City. Both teams are level on paper, but one of them could end up as a massive winner if they manage to snatch all three points on Maksimir, Zagreb.

That said, this is going to be a tricky contest, so let’s roll up our sleeves and start dissecting the matter at hand!

Champions League 2020 | Group C 101

Group C seemed like the perfect bunch right off the bat. Manchester City nicely poised with three fiery challengers. A plethora of wicked matches was imminent!

The same goes for Dinamo vs. Shakhtar betting predictions, the crucial group C matchup, and the focal point of this article. From the looks of things, Manchester City is the winner of group C with Ukrainian and Croatian champions fighting for the second place. Their first head to head encounter in group C finished as a draw, further spicing things up for the away leg in Croatia. Atalanta, last year’s Serie A sensation, needs all three points against Manchester City if they want to pose as playoffs contestants, which is highly unlikely.

In other words, that leaves Manchester City at the top spot, followed by Dinamo and Shakhtar battling for that prestigious second place. The Ukrainian team definitely has a lot more European experience than Dinamo Zagreb, but the youthful Croatians aren’t to be taken for granted, especially after the brave performance in Kharkiv.

If Dinamo secures all three points on Wednesday, Shakhtar would need 2/2 wins against Atalanta and Manchester City. And that’s only if Dinamo fails to capitalize against the Italians. Basically, if Dinamo wins on Wednesday, they’ve cemented their spot in the CL playoffs. Even if something crazy happens and Dinamo loses the second spot, they’ll still be playing Europa League, which isn’t half bad considering Dinamo’s recent European flops.

With all that said, allow me to break down my Dinamo vs. Shakhtar betting predictions with the hope that they’ll shed some light onto what’s bound to be a fiery contest.

As always, we won’t rush straight into Dinamo vs. Shakhtar betting predictions. We’ll first analyze both teams, talk about their key players, and emphasize their coaches’ strategies to better understand what awaits us on Wednesday.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right on in!

Croatians Enjoying Their Champions League Run

In domestic competition, Dinamo is doing great with 31 points in 13 matches, just enough for the leading position on the Prva HNL table. They’re already well ahead of their biggest rivals, Hajduk, and Rijeka, and it seems as though the rest of the season will be a proper trophy cruise.

Roughly the same goes for Dinamo Zagreb’s Champions League start. For the first time ever, Dinamo is in a high position to clinch Champions League playoffs. 2018/2019 was their breakthrough season in European competitions when they reached all the way to Ro16.

This season, they’re back in the Champions League and already sitting on four points after the first half of their group stage matches. A convincing win against Atalanta on Maksimir, a solid-fought defeat against Manchester City, and a surprising draw against Shakhtar, one that further increased their odds of reaching the playoffs.

Can Dinamo Zagreb finally survive the winter in the Champions League?

Key Players

If Dinamo Zagreb is to reach the Champions League playoffs, they’ll have to rely on Dani Olmo’s midfield vision and his ability to create chances in the opposition’s third. As far as crucial figures go, Dani Olmo, the 21-year-old Spanish international, is the man to lead Dinamo Zagreb to European glory. The young Spaniard already has four goals to his tally, and he’ll be looking for more in the upcoming match against Shakhtar.

26-year-old Croatian winger, Mislav Orsic, is Dinamo’s top Champions League scorer thus far, racking in 7 goals across nine fixtures (yes, we’re counting Dinamo’s qualifiers here too). He’s fast, can dribble with the ball, and score goals from wherever he pleases. Mislav Orsic is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and Shakhtar’s defense will have a proper test on their hands.

In addition to the Spanish maestro and the 26-year-old Orsic, Bruno Petkovic, Croatia’s promising new striker looking to fill Mandzukic’s shoes, seems well-capable of deciding matches too. He also has four goals to his tally, just like Dani Olmo. One thing’s for sure, Petkovic will also want to improve his goalscoring stats. Such a physically imposing striker who’s active on the ball and has an excellent nose for inside-the-box goals will be a handful for Shakhtar’s flimsy defense. Make sure you keep that in mind and take it into account when you read our final Dinamo vs. Shakhtar betting predictions!

Tactical Approach

Nenad Bjelica’s known for experimenting with tactical solutions and implementing different approaches in every single match. Despite that, it’s still rather obvious he fancies a sturdy 4-1-4-1. He’s been using it a lot in Prva HNL, and it’s likely he’ll use it against Shakhtar on Wednesday. Bjelica’s 4-1-4-1 stands pretty deep, sporting a defensive-minded midfielder right in front of the back four (usually Moro or Gojak), and packs a creative central midfield that wreaks havoc in the opposition’s half.

Dani Olmo plays a vital role here, dictating the pace and tempo, allowing the men in front of him to get in behind the defense while he soaks in the pressure. It’s what the Croatian national team loves doing with Luka Modric and his impeccable ability to stay on the ball and create space wherever his team needs it.

One thing’s for sure; we won’t be seeing 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 in Maksimir… except if Dinamo scores three(ish) goals in the first hour of play, and Bjelica opts to defend the lead. That said, I believe Dinamo will head out with either the above-described 4-1-4-1 or 4-5-1, which is Olmo playing as a shadow striker. It’s not his usual position, but knowing Shakhtar’s defensive issues in recent matches, Olmo’s dribbling and vision could be enough to exploit space near the back four.

Shakhtar Needs to Impress

Don’t get me wrong. As far as Shakhtar’s domestic league is concerned, they’re as brilliant as always. At the moment, they’re the dominant side in the Ukrainian Premier League with 37 points, ten above the second-placed Dynamo Kiev. It’s nothing unusual, though, seeing as Shakhtar won all but two domestic league titles since 2009.

In terms of European competitions, that’s where people expect a lot from Shakhtar. They’ve managed to establish themselves as a household name in the soccer sphere, thanks to excellent showcases in both Champions League and Europa League… and failing to qualify for the playoffs would be outright terrible for the fiery Ukrainians.

And that might happen… Dinamo Zagreb is a force to be reckoned with, which they displayed against Atalanta in their opening Champions League match this season. They’re tenacious, play well off each other, and have a great team cohesion.

Key Players

Junior Moraes, the 32-year-old striker, is doing wonders for Shakhtar this season. Not only has he scored against Dinamo, but he’s also Shakhtar’s top goalscorer with 11 goals this season. That said, the Ukrainians will hope their golden attacking goose will put on a show in Zagreb. If you’re interested in Dinamo vs. Shakhtar betting predictions, Junior Moraes is the man you’ll have to keep tabs on.

Taison, the 31-year-old Shakhtar veteran, shouldn’t be taken for granted either. He has six goals and assists, approaching the double-double and will definitely aim to leave his mark on the upcoming group C fixture. He’s a central midfielder with an attacking mindset but can use his pace and roam on both sides.

Once Taison gets the ball, his dribbling skills can string together a couple of defenders, leaving a ton of
space up front. And that’s the position Taison loves, the position from which he can both score and assist. If Dinamo’s defensive setup fails to provide proper marking on Taison, he’ll be a proper threat.

Tactical Approach

Luis Castro prefers his default 4-2-3-1 formation, no matter if he’s the underdog or the heavy favorite. His primary formation has served him well, and it’s only a matter of approach more than anything else.

In other words, I doubt the 58-year-old Portuguese strategist will play around with his players’ positioning. Junior Moraes will be the only striker up front, with Taison right behind him. Solomon and Marlos are on the flanks, rounding up a pacey midfield section with enough vision and passing accuracy to threaten Dinamo on Maksimir.

Depending on Dinamo’s starting lineup and build-up plays, Castro’s 4-2-3-1 can either switch to a more defensive-minded 4-5-1 with Solomon and Marlos taking a step back in attacking plays and covering Olmo’s attempts to play through to the flanks. If, on the other hand, Dinamo’s first 10 minutes don’t breathe too much aggression, Shakhtar’s 4-2-3-1 can easily widen its reach, stretching from line to line and playing as wide as possible and try to get balls in towards Moraes.

Dinamo vs. Shakhtar Betting Predictions

Now let’s get to the fun stuff, the actual Dinamo vs. Shakhtar betting predictions! As stated above, this match can decide the group C second spot. If either of the two teams wins it, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for the playoffs. If it ends as a draw and the whole second-place deal goes to a tie, Dinamo will have the upper hand unless the draw on Maksimir is 3-3 or higher.

As for the actual sports betting tips, I really fancy Dinamo’s chances in this one. They were slight underdogs in their away fixture, but have shown us they mean business. They almost went all the way and snatched all three
points against Shakhtar, which would’ve been the killing blow for Ukrainians’ playoff aspirations.

Now, they have the perfect opportunity to get back at Taison and the company. They have the chance to get one leg into the playoffs with a solid win on their home soil, and finally, debunk their awful Champions League record.

One Thing’s for Sure:

Maksimir is going to be on fire. Probably literally too, knowing Croatian ultras and their ballsiness when it comes to smuggling pyrotechnics to the grounds. With or without special effects, I reckon the stands will cheer for Dinamo from start to finish, creating a brilliant atmosphere and being worthy of the title 12th player.

Shakhtar has a tough task ahead of them; there’s no doubt about that. Their defense will have to be dynamic, vary, and ready to soak in a ton of pressure, assuming Bjelica sends his players forward very early on. Can Castro’s men do that effectively for the entirety of the match… well, I’m pretty sure they can’t!

At the moment, Dinamo to win is at +125, a pretty solid value considering the match circumstances. If you want to go in with a bit more risk, Dinamo to win and Orsic to score at +333 seems appealing. Orsic is in a great form, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he scores one or two against Shakhtar.

The Bets
Dinamo Zagreb
+125
Dinamo Zagreb Match-Winner and Orsic to Score
+333