AEK Athens will look to make home advantage count against Dinamo Zagreb in the first leg of their third qualifying round in the UEFA Champions League. Even though the home team’s 2023–24 season has not yet begun, Dinamo already had to defeat Astana to move on to the third qualifying round of the European Cup this year.
Preview (AEK Athens vs Dinamo Zagreb)
Last season, AEK Athens won the first division of Greek football for the thirteenth time. They finished first with 83 points, earning them a spot in the Champions League’s third qualifying round. The Yellow-Blacks have played five friendlies this summer, winning each of their last four. Including a 3-1 victory against Trabzonspor last time out. However, their 2023–24 season has yet to officially begin. AEK Athens won’t start their domestic season until August 19.
Orbelin Pineda and Ezequiel Ponce are two of the six players that Matias Almeyda’s team acquired during the summer transfer window from Celta Vigo and Elche, respectively. The 1968–1969 season saw Union notably advance to the quarterfinals of the European Cup. Since the 1994–1995 season, they have failed to advance past the competition’s group stage. The Blues have already begun their 2023–24 season. They have earned four points from their first three games to move them up to fourth place in the standings.
Igor Biscan’s team had to defeat Astana to get to this stage of the competition. They won 4-0 at home in the first leg against the Kazakhstani team. They followed it with a 2-0 win away to win 6-0 overall. The fact that Dinamo Zagreb has already begun its domestic season and is coming off a scoreless draw with HNK Gorica on Saturday may aid them in this game, but AEK Athens will be the more rested team for both legs. The Citizens participated in the Champions League group stage last season. However, they came in last place in a group that also included Chelsea, AC Milan, and Red Bull Salzburg.
With Pineda and Ponce, both expected to be named in the starting XI on Tuesday night, AEK Athens will likely have at least two debutants in their starting lineup for this game. In addition to Levi Garcia, another recent addition who scored 18 goals for the team last season, Konstantinos Chrysopoulos will start at center-forward for the home team. With eight goals in 34 appearances, Nordin Amrabat had a successful 2022–23 season as well. The seasoned forward ought to start this match.
The starting lineup for Dinamo, meanwhile, is anticipated to be fairly similar to the one that played against Astana in the second leg of the second qualifying round on August 2. Luka Ivanusec, 24, will surely get the ball rolling because he has had a fantastic start to the season, scoring four goals in his first four games. Ahead of the schedule for the new year, Bruno Petkovic will play in the final third of the field. Dario Spikic will likely make his sixth appearance of the year in a wide area.
We anticipate a competitive encounter on Tuesday night. AEK Athens will be mindful of the significance of claiming a big result ahead of the follow-up match in Croatia. We believe the hosts will carry a somewhat favorable outcome into the match’s second leg since they have a lot of talent in the last third of the field.
AEK Athens 1 – 1 Dinamo Zagreb
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