The Europa League Qualifying stage moves forward on Thursday night and after winning two matches in the competition already, Odd have been handed the tricky task of facing Dinamo Zagreb this week. Zagreb are hot favourites to qualify from this tie, although Odd have comfortably made it this far up to now. Both teams have been in competitive action recently, so that should make for a very good game here.
A lot is at stake for these two clubs and although the Europa League is definitely the second tier of European competition, it is still a very lucrative tournament for smaller European clubs like these two. With so much on the line, both teams will field strong line ups as they search for the win.
Diname Zagreb head into the tie as favourites, and deservedly so, although Odd are more than capable of causing a shock if Zagreb don’t take them seriously.
Dinamo Zagreb Form
Dinamo Zagreb enter the competition at this stage, so have no recent European form to go on. However, they have already begun their league campaign and so far they have made a very good start. From their opening two games, Zagreb have picked up the maximum six points, and on top of that they have scored an impressive six goals.
As many of you will know, Dinamo Zagreb have made it to the Champions League group stage for the past two season, so this is a step down for them. They have the ability to not only reach the Europe League group stages, but to challenge for qualification from them, and they should qualify from this tie.
Odd have many more games under their belt than Dinamo Zagreb and they will be hoping to make that count in this first leg. They have played two rounds of the Europa League qualifying stages, along with double figure games under their belt from the Norwegian league.
By starting two round ago, you can see the difference in quality between these two, and Odd have a lot of ground to make up. However, they are playing well right now and they know how the odds are stacked against them, so will play the games with nothing to lose and no fear. They have lost just three matches in 18 games in all competitions, a good record no matter what standard of play. Their lack of fear and current good run makes them dangerous, despite being a class below what Zagreb should be able to produce.
The highly rated youngster Rafik Zekhnini has finally left Odd after months of speculation and joined Fiorentina. That means he is no longer available and will be a big loss to them. Elsewhere, with so many games under their belt, the team knows who is likely to play, and the manager has his best eleven set in stone.
Dinamo Zagreb have just signed midfielder Tongo Doumbia and he could find himself thrown straight into the first team. He comes in from France and looks a quality addition to this already promising outfit, I am looking forward to seeing him if he plays. With Zagreb having played just two competitive games, their starting eleven is not set right now and it will be interesting to see the selection choices they make.
Top Betting Tips
The bookmakers have this game as being a comfortable win for Dinamo Zagreb, but I am not so sure myself. I am expecting Zagreb to win the game, but I believe it will be a lot closer than many people are predicting. Odd are fully fit and right in the middle of their domestic season. They have already won two rounds of the Europa League qualifying stages so confidence in the camp will be high. They know Zagreb are a good outfit, but that won’t stop them from believing they can win this game.
I am still siding with Zagreb to win the game, but I think they will win by a one goal margin and a score of 2-1. This is available at 10/1 with Ladbrokes, who offer the best price available on this score line.
Let’s hope we have the competitive game I think we will, which is going to be a good game to watch, hopefully with Zagreb coming out on top. Should they win the game 2-1 then that will set up the second leg brilliantly, which will take place in Norway and where Odd will really fancy their chances of causing an upset.