Astana can sap Dinamo Zagreb of Champions League hope on home soil
Kazakhs have made it through two qualifying ties this term
Champions League third qualifying round
Dinamo Zagreb spent last season in European exile after losing their Europa League playoff against Skenderbeu and they could stumble in the penultimate round of Champions League qualifying this term against Astana.
The hosts from Kazakhstan beat FC Midtjylland 2-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round, winning the shot count 23-8 in the home leg, and their form at the Astana Arena makes them dangerous opponents.
Astana have lost just one of their last eight European home matches, including victories over Polish title holders Legia Warsaw and Scottish champions Celtic.
The visitors swept aside Hapoel Beer-Sheva 7-2 on aggregate in the second qualifying round but looked vulnerable after going 2-0 down in the first 34 minutes of the away leg, only to rally back and draw
Kazakhstan are 12 places lower than Croatia in Uefa’s country coefficient rankings but their strength at home, where they have won ten of their 11 league matches this term, coupled with their burgeoning European experience cannot be ignored.
Astana held their own in a testing Europa League group last term to make the last 32 and can bolster their bid for Champions League qualification with victory over Zagreb in the first leg.
1pt 23-20 general
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