Dinamo Zagreb vs Chelsea predictions: Blues to edge entertaining clash
Chelsea were beaten by Real Madrid in dramatic fashion in the Champions League quarter-final last season and the Blues, who were crowned European champions in 2020-21, will be hoping to kickstart their Group E campaign with victory at Dinamo Zagreb.
With AC Milan and Salzburg also in Chelsea’s Champions League section, Dinamo Zagreb look the weakest of the quartet, but the atmosphere in Croatia is likely to be hostile meaning nothing can be taken for granted.
The Citizens are unbeaten in 19 home games and defeated Sevilla on their own patch in the Europa League last term, highlighting their capabilities if Chelsea find themselves having another off day.
Thomas Tuchel’s men have made an indifferent start to the Premier League campaign, winning only three of their opening six games and falling to defeat on trips to Southampton and Leeds.
The Blues overcame London rivals West Ham 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday but it was far from a vintage display so Tuchel will surely be demanding a positive response from his players in Zagreb.
Chelsea are set to be without N’Golo Kante while deadline day signing Denis Zakaria, who arrived on a season-long loan from Juventus, is also missing from their midfield.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, another deadline day arrival from Barcelona, remains sidelined with a broken jaw but Tuchel otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Zagreb, on the other hand, have no fresh injury concerns and manager Ante Cacic will be buoyed by having a full-strength squad at his disposal.
Dinamo Zagreb lead the way in the Croatian top-flight, having amassed 22 points from their opening eight games, and they have already built up a commanding eight-point lead in the title race.
However, both teams have scored in all eight of those league fixtures, highlighting a defensive weakness that may be exploited by Chelsea’s classy forward options.
Chelsea have made a less convincing start in the Premier League as they find themselves sixth with 10 points from their first six assignments.
The Blues have not kept a clean sheet since their 1-0 win at Everton on the opening weekend of the season and have been beaten 3-0 at Leeds and 2-1 at Southampton.
Despite reinforcements, Chelsea do not look as resilient as they did in defence last season, which is highlighted by a -1 goal difference in the Premier League.
Chelsea have won 16 of their last 23 Champions League matches and will be eyeing success in Zagreb, but the prospects of an entertaining encounter look more likely.
Both teams have scored in 12 of Dinamo Zagreb's 14 domestic and Champions League qualifiers this season and they are notoriously strong at home so may not be completely outclassed.
Chelsea have a lot of attacking quality — Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount to name just three influential forward players at their disposal — but things have yet to click for them this season.
Tuchel's side have conceded nine goals across their last five Premier League matches and they were fortunate in Saturday’s 2-1 win at home to West Ham, who had a late equaliser controversially denied by VAR.
Both teams are fancied to get on the scoresheet, although Chelsea’s class should eventually tell and they are taken to prevail 2-1, which has been the scoreline in two of their three league wins this term.