Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mourinho Makes Dinamo Changes

Jose Mourinho is set to ring the changes as Real Madrid host rock bottom Dinamo Zagreb knowing a draw will probably be enough to see them finish on top of Group D.

The Spanish giants have already qualified for the knock-out stages of the competition thanks to their 100% record in the pool games and sit five points clear of second placed Ajax.

Injuries have started to take their toll, though, and the former Chelsea manager will be without a handful of first-team regulars including Alvaro Arbeloa (hamstring) and Marcelo (thigh) who have joined Kaka (calf), Angel Di Maria (hamstring) and Ricardo Carvalho (back) in the treatment room

This will give Mourinho the chance to give some much needed Champions League experience to his squad players with Lassana Diarra and Nuri Sahin, a summer signing from Borussia Dortmund, likely to start against the Croatian minnows.

He said: "They are the Croatian champions and they have 10 points more than the second-placed team in their league. I have to make changes in my team because I have very tired players, not because the opponents will be easy.

"We need one point more to advance as group winners and that is what we have in mind right now. That said, we felt like we were favourites last season and we know what happened in the semi-finals [losing 3-1 on aggregate to FC Barcelona].

"My players don't know the starting line-up yet but in the last four matches the player who came to the press conference with me, in this case, Nuri Sahin, then started.

"I have to make some changes to my team because some of the players are very tired, but Lass [Diarra] can play in every position and will play tomorrow."

The hosts are the only club yet to concede a goal in the Champions League this season and start the game as huge favourites against the only side not to have hit the net in the competition.

Their cause will not be helped by injuries to the defensive pair in Sime Vrsaljko (hamstring) and Josip Simunic (calf) while Mathias Chago (back) and Igor Biscan (left ankle) are still out and have yet to feature this season.

But boss Krunoslav Jurcic is able to call upon Mehmed Alispahic and Tonel who returned in Friday's 3-0 win over RNK Split.

"This is something we expected," he said. "You arrive at a temple of football and play against one of the best teams.

"We have a lot of respect but nevertheless come to compete. I have asked my players to leave an impression and I hope they use this occasion to showcase the best of Croatian football. We know it will be tough but we expect to get our first point in the Champions League.

"We have great players who have played a lot of important matches in great stadiums. I don't think that the Santiago Bernabeu is going to overawe them.

"We are back in the Champions League after 12 years and it has been like going to university for us. Now we want to pass our exams to come back with more options someday."