Well, it was fun while it lasted.
After an incredible 1-0 win over Chelsea to start their Champions League campaign, Dinamo Zagreb were brought back to Earth pretty quickly with two losses to AC Milan and only achieving one point from two matches against Red Bull Salzburg. Let’s be real here, were we really expecting Dinamo to finish top-2 in a group with Chelsea and AC Milan? If they wanted to put up a fight, they needed to play much, much better against Salzburg, plain and simple.
Europa League will always be the better and more competitive tournament for the Croatian champions. I know it’s sexy to see the big boys come to town, but they will always dominate Dinamo if they need to. Dinamo caught Chelsea on a bad day when former manager Tuchel already had one foot out the door.
The good news: for as bad as they have been the past four Champions League group stage matches, Dinamo are in semi-fortunate position to try and grab third spot in group and book a Europa League knockout berth. Chelsea have already topped the group with one game remaining as they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against AC Milan. That means Chelsea will surely treat next week’s match vs. Dinamo at Stamford Bridge as a friendly and rest some starters. That’s excellent news for Dinamo as only a win matters for them. A draw does nothing.
AC Milan host Salzburg at San Siro in their final group stage match. With second place on the line, AC Milan must not lose to Salzburg or their Champions League Round of 16 hopes are over. If Dinamo can somehow win against a Chelsea B-squad AND AC Milan defeat RB Salzburg, Dinamo will backdoor 3rd place and a Europa League berth. Not impossible.