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Preview: Dinamo Zagreb vs. Atalanta

History beckons for Atalanta BC on Wednesday night when they play their first ever Champions League match, with Dinamo Zagreb providing the opposition.

The only club to be making their debut in the competition this season, Atalanta will be looking to get off to a winning start at Stadion Maksimir ahead of upcoming matches against Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester City in Group C.

Match preview :

Dinamo Zagreb may be the hosts in this match, but most eyes will be on how their Italian visitors fare on their first taste of Europe’s premier club competition.

There is no doubting that Atalanta earned their place amongst the big boys, with only Juventus and Napoli finishing above them last season as they registered their highest-ever league finish, as well as reaching the Coppa Italia final.

Manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s achievements at the club have led to him being made an honorary citizen of Bergamo, and success in Europe will only raise his popularity amongst the fans even further.

It is something which he may feel is eminently possible too; Man City are the clear favourites in Group C, while Shakhtar and Zagreb have more experience at this level, but a challenge for second place in the group is by no means out of the equation for a team that beat Napoli away from home and avoided defeat against Juventus in three meetings last season.

The current campaign has begun in mixed fashion with two wins and a defeat from their opening three games, although the positive omen from that run for this trip is that both victories have come away from home.

Atalanta are not complete novices on the European stage either – indeed, this is their third successive campaign and they have lost just two of their last 11 away outings on the continent.

Zagreb’s Champions League campaign ended in the qualifying rounds last year, but they did subsequently make it all the way to the last 16 of the Europa League and it took extra time for Benfica to finally squeeze past them.

Qualifying was required again this time around as they made the group stages for the seventh time, although they have never progressed further than this and, like Atalanta, will be eyeing up second place in Group C.

To do that they will need to vastly improve their recent record at this stage; the Croatian outfit have lost each of their last 11 Champions League group games and have won just one of their last 27, losing 24 of those.

Domestic duties have gone significantly better – last season’s title was their 13th in 14 seasons – and they have lost just one of their 14 outings this term, the defeat coming against Hajduk Split in a match which saw them reduced to nine men.

Zagreb form: WWWDLW

Atalanta form: WLW

Schedule

September 22, 2019
Atalanta 4:00 PM Fiorentina
September 25, 2019
Roma 5:00 PM Atalanta

 

Results

September 15, 2019
Genoa 1 - 2 Atalanta
September 1, 2019
Atalanta 2 - 3 Torino