Dinamo Zagreb v Chelsea
Tuesday September 6, 17:45
Dinamo back in the big time
Dinamo Zagreb have won 16 of the past 17 Croatian titles and the Blues have begun their latest domestic defence in fine fettle.
Ante Cacic's crew have accumulated 22 points and notched 27 goals from their opening seven showdowns (W7-D1-L0), including a 3-1 success here when welcoming rock-bottom Rijeka in their most recent 1. HNL outing.
The Citizens advanced to the group-stage for the first time in three seasons after progressing past Shkupi, Ludogorets Razgrad and Bodo/Glimt in qualifying.
Josip Drmic and Peter Bockaj scored late in extra-time as Dinamo overturned a first-leg deficit against the latter to spark jubilant scenes in and outside their atmospheric Stadion Maksimir base.
Despite their fourth seed status, Cacic's charges have proven their capable at upsetting the odds when written off.
Dinamo reached the 2020-21 Europa League quarter-finals and also posted wins over West Ham and Sevilla in last year's competition.
However, Manchester City were cushy 4-1 winners when visiting in this competition back in 2019.
Chelsea survive weekend scare
Substitute Kai Havertz scored a late winner as Chelsea recovered to record a dramatic 2-1 victory over West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, although the victory was marred by controversy and VAR chaos with a 90th-minute Hammers equaliser ruled out.
The Blues were frustrated in a tame first-half that saw Thomas Tuchel's troops enjoy plenty of possession without landing an attempt on-target.
Chelsea fell behind midway through the second period but Ben Chilwell snuck in to level from a tight angle soon after, sparking a frantic finish. West Ham hit the woodwork before a clinical Havertz finish proved decisive.
Tuchel handed Wesley Fofana a start in the heart of the Blues defence alongside fellow new additions Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella, whilst Reece James returned from illness.
Havertz and Mason Mount dropped to the bench, with the Chelsea chief keen to praise his squad, in particular the game-changing substitutes.
Post-match, Tuchel said: "It was a huge effort to come back and huge credit to the team, the impact from the bench - full credit to everybody. We take it now step by step, we will try to use this momentum - things are clear now, we can demand full commitment to everything. We are in the middle of creating this and it is not finished."
This will be the first ever European meeting between Dinamo Zagreb and Chelsea.
In fact, Zagreb will be Blues' first ever Croatian opponent in a competitive match but the Londoners are the ninth English side to face Dinamo in continental competition; the Croatians taking top honours in two of their most recent three such head-to-head duels.
Dinamo Zagreb 7.4013/2 are entering their eighth season in the Champions League group-stage, however their record in this competition is poor.
The Citizens have been eliminated before the knockout stages in all seven previous attempts, winning two of their last 33 UCL pool matches.
The hosts are also without a clean sheet in 10 across all competitions.
Chelsea 1.491/2 have progressed from 17 of their 18 previous opening Champions League group stages and the Blues arrive having suffered a solitary reverse in their past 11 away UCL encounters.
A 1-0 defeat at Juventus in September 2021 is the visitors only loss in 17 group-stage matches in the competition (W11-D5-L1).
The goal expectancy for Tuesday's early kick-off is 2.85 and Over 2.5 Goals is trading at 1.824/5.
Both Teams To Score is offered at 2.021/1 - a selection that's banked in four of Chelsea's opening six Premier League fixtures, as well as 12 of Dinamo Zagreb's 14 matches across league and Champions League qualifying this season.
With Thomas Tuchel's team appearing far from watertight defensively, particularly on their travels this term, BTTS is well worth considering.
The Blues shipped three goals at Leeds and twice at Southampton, with a number of new faces still trying to settle in a system that's alternated regularly throughout the current campaign.
Those looking for a bigger-priced wager can head to the Bet Builder where Chelsea to win, BTTS and a Goal To be Scored In Both Halves comes in at a handsome 3.309/4.