Already assured of a top-two finish in Group D with two games to spare, Real Madrid will be looking to continue their exhilarating form against a Dinamo Zagreb team who lie in bottom place with no points or goals.
When the teams met at Stadion Maksimir on 14 September, a second-half strike from Ángel Di María was enough for Madrid to get their campaign off to a winning start – despite having Marcelo sent off with 17 minutes remaining. It came at the expense of a home team playing in their first UEFA Champions League group game since 1999.
Two weeks later a potent attacking performance saw off the challenge of AFC Ajax, Madrid’s 3-0 victory achieved through goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká and Karim Benzema. The back-to-back meetings with Olympique Lyonnais maintained their winning streak, a 4-0 success at the Santiago Bernabéu in which former Lyon striker Benzema opened the scoring preceding a 2-0 win at Stade de Gerland, Ronaldo getting both goals.
Dinamo followed their matchday one reverse with a 2-0 defeat away by Lyon and then went down 2-0 and 4-0 when they faced Ajax home and away. They are the only one of the 32 teams in the group stage still to score.
The 14 September meeting was the first between the sides. Real Madrid‘s only previous experience of Croatian opposition was a 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round tie against HNK Rijeka. They won 3-0 at home to rescue the situation after losing 3-1 away.
Two of Dinamo’s three previous European ties against Spanish opposition had come against Madrid’s city rivals Club Atlético de Madrid. The Zagreb side lost 4-0 away in the 1965/66 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup preliminary round, bowing out 5-0 on aggregate, and lost 1-0 away in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup third round which ensured a 2-1 aggregate loss.
Dinamo’s sole victory in seven matches against Liga sides, five of which they have lost, was a 2-0 home defeat of Villarreal CF in last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage.