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Dinamo Zagreb out to seize the day

NK Dinamo Zagreb have been urged to seize their chance against Werder Bremen as they bid to reach the group stage for the first time in eight campaigns.

Bremen were 2-1 winners in the first leg in Germany
Bremen were 2-1 winners in the first leg in Germany ©Getty Images

NK Dinamo Zagreb coach Branko Ivanković has called on his side to seize their chance against Werder Bremen as the Croatian champions attempt to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since 1998/99.

'Big opportunities'
Dinamo were defeated 2-1 in Germany two weeks ago but, according to Ivanković, they showed enough to suggest they can pull off a surprise. "Bremen's weekend victory at [1. FC] Nürnberg will have raised their morale but they're not unbeatable," Ivanković said. "They're favourites, but let's play and see. A lot depends on us. In Bremen we had five big opportunities but converted only one while Werder scored from their only chances. If we can score from our first chance, who knows what will happen?"

Modrić back
Captain Luka Modrić has given Dinamo a boost by declaring himself fit after a muscle complaint while Carlos replaces the suspended Hrvoje Čale at left-back. It is Dinamo's biggest match of the season and after losing to Arsenal FC at this stage last year, there is confidence that they can go one better now. The hosts have won all six Prva Liga fixtures so far, netting 22 times, and a sell-out crowd should ensure a lively atmosphere. Midfielder Ognjen Vukojević is relishing the challenge. "Werder will be stronger than in the first leg," he said. "They won't underestimate us. They know we're a good team who can make things very hard for them. It's a pity we didn't deliver a knockout blow in Bremen but I hope we'll do that in Zagreb."

Bremen's Brazilian playmaker Diego is determined to ensure that does not happen. "A team like Werder belong in the Champions League," he said. "It's the biggest competition in club football and every player wants to be part of it." Diego, however, says Bremen will not be in for an easy ride. "Zagreb have shown they have a strong team with good individuals. We respect them. They will be backed up by a fanatical crowd, but we can handle that. We have played lots of matches in even bigger stadiums."

Harnik on target
With key players Torsten Frings and Tim Borowski injured, victory against Nürnberg – Bremen's first of the league season – came as welcome relief. Martin Harnik had particular reason to celebrate after coming on as a substitute to score the winner on his Bundesliga bow. It crowned a memorable week for the 20-year-old who had also scored on his Austria debut against the Czech Republic three days before. Harnik, though, is likely to be on the bench against Dinamo, with Boubacar Sanogo returning from a foot injury and Hugo Almeida having impressed during the first leg. "We mustn't get over-excited just because he has scored twice," coach Thomas Schaaf said. "We'll have to nurture his development carefully and that's something Martin knows as well."