Having suffered defeats in both their UEFA Champions League Group A fixtures so far, GNK Dinamo Zagreb have now lost their last eight matches in Europe's premier club competition. It is a sorry record, but, rather than wallow in self-pity, their supporters have been gripped by a profound sense of optimism as they await Wednesday's ambitious visitors, Paris Saint-Germain FC.
In particular, the 14-time Croatian champions can take heart from their impressive league form, leading the way with nine wins from 12 games. Forward Duje Čop, who scored in Dinamo's latest success – a 2-0 win at NK Inter Zaprešić on Saturday – is now hoping they can carry that momentum into Europe. "We deserved the victory against Inter," he said. "Now it's up to us to take that form into the Champions League. It is a dream to play in this competition against top European clubs who have world-class players. It's a huge occasion for us and we will do anything to achieve a positive result."
Positive noises have also been emanating from the Dinamo youth academy for a number of years, and prodigy Alen Halilović demonstrated why recently when he became the youngest scorer in Prva Liga history, aged 16 years and 113 days. Halilović is not the only teenage sensation on the scene either, with Mateo Kovačić, 18, and Marcelo Brozović, 19, already vital cogs in Dinamo's fresh-faced midfield unit. "The team are full of confidence following the win over Inter," said Brozović. "I hope the stadium will be filled with positivity for the PSG match ahead of a wonderful evening for all those who love this club."
Completing the diversely talented quartet is artful midfielder Sammir, who made his senior international debut for Croatia in their 2-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia this month. "Sammir is in good shape," said coach Ante Čačić. "He is an excellent player and a very important part of our team, and he showed that once again against Inter.
"What can I say about a star-studded team like PSG?" he continued. "They are fantastic and have a great coach in Carlo Ancelotti. It will be a big test for us and we will see how much we have learned from the first two matches. We will do everything to play at a high level for 90 minutes and I hope we can come away with something more than a good performance."
The opinions expressed here are the writer's own and not those of UEFA.
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