Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta facts
Atalanta’s first ever UEFA Champions League match takes them to Croatia to face a Dinamo Zagreb team who are making their seventh group appearance.
• Atalanta are the only club to be making their group stage debut in 2019/20; Dinamo’s six previous campaigns have all ended at this stage, most recently in 2016/17.
• The sides’ only previous fixtures came in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup first round, a tie Atalanta won on away goals. After a goalless first leg in Bergamo, Zvonimir Boban gave Dinamo a 54th-minute lead in Zagreb, but an Evair penalty equaliser five minutes later ultimately took Atalanta through.
• Dinamo claimed their 13th Croatian league title in 14 seasons in 2018/19 – and 20th in all – but their UEFA Champions League campaign came to an early end with a play-off defeat against Young Boys. Moving into the UEFA Europa League, the Zagreb club finished first in their section before getting the better of Viktoria Plzeň in the round of 32, then bowing out after extra time against Benfica in the last 16 (1-0 h, 0-3 a).
• Nenad Bjelica’s side started this season’s UEFA Champions League in the second qualifying round, easing past Georgia’s Saburtalo 5-0 on aggregate (2-0 a, 3-0 h) before a 5-1 victory over two games against Ferencváros of Hungary (1-1 h, 4-0 a). They then overcame Rosenborg in the play-offs, winning 2-0 at home before a 1-1 draw in Norway.
• Dinamo are unbeaten in eight home European fixtures (W6 D2). A second-leg loss to Young Boys in last season’s UEFA Champions League play-offs (1-2) is their only defeat in the last 13 such matches (W9 D3).
• This is Dinamo’s seventh UEFA Champions League group campaign overall, and fifth in nine seasons. They have failed to qualify from the group stage in all six previous attempts. In fact, 2018/19 marked the first time in 14 UEFA club competition group stage campaigns – including eight in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League – that the Croatian club had made it through to the next phase.
• Dinamo’s record in the UEFA Champions League group stage is W4 D5 L27; they suffered six defeats in their most recent participation, in 2016/17. They have lost their last 11 matches, and won only one of the last 27 (D2 L24) – a 2-1 defeat of Arsenal in Zagreb in September 2015 that ended a 16-year wait for a victory in the competition proper.
• Dinamo have lost their last three matches against Italian clubs, most recently home (0-4) and away (0-2) defeats by Juventus in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage. Their three victories against Italian sides have come in Zagreb; their overall record reads W3 D4 L12.
• This is Atalanta’s 36th European match, at the start of their seventh campaign in continental competition. They reached the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals in 1987/88 and the UEFA Cup quarter-finals three years later.
• Third in Serie A in 2018/19, their highest ever finish, and Coppa Italia runners-up, this is Atalanta’s third successive European campaign. They came through the UEFA Europa League group stage in 2017/18, losing to Borussia Dortmund in the round of 32 (2-3 a, 1-1 h), and were beaten 4-3 on penalties by København in the play-offs of the same competition in 2018/19 after the tie had finished goalless; Atalanta had earlier eliminated Sarajevo (10-2 aggregate) and Hapoel Haifa (6-1).
• Atalanta lost five of their first six away European matches (D1) but have suffered only two defeats in the next 11 (W4 D5) and only one in the last seven (W3 D3), that 2018 loss at Dortmund.
• Those meetings with Dinamo in autumn 1990 are Atalanta’s only previous fixtures against a Croatian side.
• Atalanta are the only team to be making their group stage debut in 2019/20 – they are the tenth Italian club to feature and the 141st overall.
Links and trivia
• Dinamo Zagreb coach Nenad Bjelica was in charge of Spezia from July 2014 to November 2015.
• Atalanta’s Croatian midfielder Mario Pašalić started his career with Hajduk Split, scoring twice against Dinamo on 14 September 2013 aged 18. He scored 11 goals in 32 league appearances for Hajduk over two seasons.
• Have played in Italy:
Bruno Petković (Catania 2013–16, Varese 2014 (loan), Reggiana 2015 (loan), Entella 2015 (loan), Trapani 2016, Bologna 2017, Verona 2018 (loan))
Mislav Oršić (Spezia 2013/14)
Mario Šitum (Spezia 2014–16)
• International team-mates:
François Moubandje, Mario Gavranović & Remo Freuler (Switzerland)
Petar Stojanović & Josip Iličić (Slovenia)
• Have played together:
Mario Gavranović & Berat Djimsiti (Zürich 2012–16)
Izet Hajrović & Remo Freuler (Grasshoppers 2010–11)