Hearts vs. Dinamo Zagreb Preview and Pick

Hearts vs. Dinamo Zagreb - Europa League Play-Off Preview and Pick

Hearts vs. Dinamo Zagreb August 27, 2009 4:35 PM ET
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Hearts of the Scotland Premier League have their backs against the wall against Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia, as they have to come back from a 4-0 away loss and must have a big win tonight at Tynecastle in Edinburgh to stay alive in the Europa League.

Hearts was crushed last week in Zagreb 4-0 and they may have been thinking ahead to their match against Rangers in their domestic league. Hearts is still looking for the right formation and it looks as if the lack team chemistry, especially in the loss to Dinamo. They will have to have a full out attack on Thursday night to have any chance to advance in the Europa League. Hearts is winless in their last 5 matches.

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Dinamo looked more than solid in their match against Hearts last week and even when they had a 4 goal lead they continued to attack. They are playing well in their domestic league, despite a draw in their last match, and head coach Krunoslav Jurcic rested some of his key players in their last match so they will be fully ready for this one. Dinamo has always been solid in their domestic league, but a disappointment in the European leagues. They were ousted in the Champions League qualification by Red Bull Salzburg, but they have a comfortable lead heading into the 2nd leg of their Europa League qualification against Hearts.

Hearts are the home favorites in this match, as they are posted at 2.25 while Dinamo is posted at 2.65 as the slight underdog with a draw at 3.30.

Hearts Recent Form:

8/23/2009 Hearts 1 Rangers 2 (Scotland Premier League)
8/20/2009 Dinamo Zagreb 4 Heats 0 (Europa League)
8/17/2009 Dundee United 2 Hearts 0 (Scotland Premier League)
8/8/2009 Hearts 1 Sunderland 1 (Friendly)
5/24/2009 Celtic 0 Hearts 0 (Scotland Premier League)

Dinamo Zagreb Recent Form:

8/23/2009 Zadar 0 Dinamo Zagreb 0 (Croatian League)
8/20/2009 Dinamo Zagreb 4 Hearts 0 (Europa League)
8/16/2009 Dinamo Zagreb 5 Osijek 0 (Croatian League)
8/8/2009 Croatia Sesvete 2 Dinamo Zagreb 5 (Croatian League)
8/4/2009 Dinamo Zagreb 1 Red Bull Salzburg 2 (Champions League)

Both Marius Zaliukas and Christian Nade of Hearts had yellow cards in last week’s match in Zagreb and head coach Csaba Laszlo may have to change his plan of attack. Andy Driver is still out with an injury and Nade is a little banged up, but can play.

Dinamo is at full strength for this match, as no players received even a yellow card in last week’s match at home. They are a young squad and they are deep, especially at the midfield position.

Ian Black has been solid for Hearts, especially recently, and he will have to control the midfield in this match. He will have to set up some goals through the air for tall striker David Whitteveen.

Whitteveen has to score early in this match, as the longer the match is a draw the less likely it is that Hearts can come back from a 4-goal deficit.

Hearts will look to attack form the get go, as they have to, so their defense has to worry about a counter attack from Dinamo. If Dinamo scores first in this match, especially in the first half, the home team will be down for the count.

Hearts goalie Marian Kello has to keep Dinamo from scoring early, or for the whole match for that matter, for them to have any chance of advancing in the Europa league.

Pedro Morales generally plays an attacking role in the midfield for Dinamo, but he may drop back on defense more in this match to protect the 4-goal lead.

It may be harder for Dinamo to play a defensive style of play, as that is not what they are used to.

Jason’s Pick: The basic fact is Dinamo is playing solid soccer and Hearts is not. Even though Hearts will attack right from the starting whistle I do not see them scoring many goals. I see Dinamo winning this match 2-1, but I also would not rule out a draw.