24 October 2022


We delve into the most interesting tactical points ahead of the match at the Maksimir

AC Milan visit the Maksimir in Zagreb, hoping to qualify for the Champions League Last 16 against Dinamo, currently propping up Group E. The Croatians, still unbeaten at home in the competition, need to win in order to keep their hopes of progressing alive; the Rossoneri, after defeat at Chelsea, will want to repeat the success of the last time they played. We look into the possible tactical keys to the match. 

It is usual for Dinamo to field a 3-5-2 in the Champions League this season. It is a set-up that allows the team to take up a 5-3-2 in defensive phases, with the two wingers ready to drop and create a solid back-line protecting the penalty area. Čačić’s squad doesn’t thrive with the ball and neither does aim to press high, preferring to pounce on any mistakes the opponent makes in their own third. The quality of AC Milan’s midfield could help draw out the Crotatians’ press and work around it in possession. Bennacer and Tonali's task could be made simpler given that Dinamo, who need all three points, will have to take more risks on the front foot. 

The champions of the Croatian league usually rely on an open pitch, thanks to the pivot of Petković and the dribbling ability in runs from Oršić and Ivanušec. The goals scored on the counter against Chelsea in the first game of the group stage is a clear example of this. AC Milan have already managed to wound the Croatians in their encounter, when Leão, taking advantage of Dinamo’s set-up following Giroud’s opener, found space to stretch his legs and provided an assist for Saelemaekers. The Portuguese star, despite creating and playing a role in all the goals scored by his teammates in the tournament so far, is yet to find the net himself and wants to find the breakthrough at the Maksimir, perhaps from one of his own sprints. 

Both the squads have so far shown they are not impenetrable. Dinamo have failed to keep a clean sheet since the home win against Chelsea, conceding five goals in three successive games, while AC Milan have conceded in every game in the competition. The two sides have more emphasis on scoring goals as opposed to keeping them out at the other end, and the the attackers' form could prove the difference. Both the Rossoneri and Dinamo have only won the match in which their star player has scored. If Giroud and Oršić, numbers 9 and 99 respectively, encounter difficulties, Origi and Petković are two good alternatives. 

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