Our match prediction:
Having been able to hold on to the services of the star striker Alexandre Lacazette, Olympique Lyon head into the UEFA Champions League season eager to make their presence known at the international level. No longer considered one of France’s best clubs, Lyon have struggled in Europe in recent year. Last season they lost all three home games and only managed one goal with their single victory coming against La Liga outfit Valencia. It is redemption time for both sides as it appears. Dinamo Zagreb usually serve as a punching bag for their rival in Europe and a home 7-1 drubbing by Olympique Lyon in 2011 still stings a little. Croatia’s proudest are heading into the game, and the new season for that matter, without their star performers once again. One of Balkans’ biggest most prolific production line, Dinamo Zagreb are left without Marko Pjaca (Juventus) and Marko Rog (Napoli) and are predicted to struggle in this year’s edition of the Champions League as well.
Highligted Player (Maxime Gonalons):
The 27-year-old France international defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons has been with Lyon since the tender age of 10, climbing through the club’s rank all the way to the first-team regular and club captain. Gonalons made his competitive debut for Lyon in 2009 against Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League playoof round when he came on for Jeremy Toulalan. During the seven seasons with Lyon’s first-team, Maxime Gonalons established himself as the mainstay completing the total of 212 Ligue 1 appearances. Reliable midfielder has been a major impact in Lyon’s Champions League challenges as well, taking part in all of his club’s five appearances in Europe’s elite competition last year. Playing in the holding role at Lyon, Maxime Gonalons’ influence is pivotal as the French international adds much needed steel to the midfield allowing his more creative teammates the freedom and carelessness upfront. His locker room impact is equally crucial as the 27-year-old midfielder is an imposing figure both on and off the pitch.
Highlighted Team (Dinamo Zagreb):
Arguably the biggest club in Croatia and one of the most prominent football outfits in the Balkan region, Dinamo Zagreb have won 18 league titles, 11 of which came successively. Dinamo Zagreb have never been relegated to a lower tier of both Croatian and Yugoslav football. Modri as they are called in Croatia are renowned for their impressive production line of youth footballers. Their highly organised football academy has so far produced world-class players such as Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Marko Pjaca and many others. Dinamo Zagreb play their home matches at the Stadion Maksimir in front of 35,000 people. The club lacked support during the last couple of seasons due to fans’ disagreement with club management, most notably notorious Zdravko Mamic, who is under investigation for long-lasting corruption, tax evasion and embezzlement. For the first time since 2015, Dinamo Zagreb will have the full support of their most faithful supporters in the Champions League.