One of the most interesting matches in the 2nd round of Europa League qualifiers will see heavily reinforced Dinamo Minsk take on youthful NK Lokomotiva side. With both teams having started their domestic campaigns, they should be in good stead to make for an interesting encounter at Stadyen Traktar in Belarus.
New signings slot right in
Dinamo Minsk have become the dominant force in Belarus shortly after the country gained independence from the Soviet Union, winning six of first seven league championships. However, they have since suffered a downtrend in fortunes, lifting just one league trophy in last 15 years, with everybody at the club now determined to help Dinamo return to old glory days. The team haven’t been too impressive at the start of the season, and they currently sit in third place in the standings, but they have been showing a lot of improvement of late. The results have improved a great deal since experienced coach Robert Maaskant arrived in June, while heavy summer recruitment is also starting to pay off. Dinamo have made some excellent signings over the last few weeks, bringing Serbian Super League top scorer Lazar Veselinovic, excellent winger Nenad Adamovic, who also had an offer from Partizan Belgrade, and Montenegro international Nemanja Nikolic, among other players. The best thing here is that all three players managed to slot straight into the starting line-up, and they are likely to prove a handful for Lokomotiva defenders as well. Having started their Europa League campaign with an 8-0 aggregate win over Kruoja of Lithuania, Dinamo go into this match in excellent spirits.
After missing the matches against Kruoja, new signings Veselinovic, Adamovic and Nikolic are set to start against Lokomotiv.
Key players left
Lokomotiva Zagreb have spent most of their 99 years of existence in the lower tiers of Croatia’s league system and they have yet to win a major trophy. Just six years ago they were playing their football in the fourth division, but the club have been on a major uptrend ever since. Having finally returned to the top flight after a 52-year wait in 2009/2010, Lokosi finished the league campaign in 8th place, proving they are here to stay. Last season was by far the most successful in club’s history, with Lokomotiva achieving a second-place finish in HNL to ensure their first ever European qualification. However, while they were somewhat unfortunate to be pitted against very good Dinamo Minsk side, the club chiefs haven’t done enough to prepare the team for the new campaign. While key players Ivan Boras, Domagoj Antolic and Mate Males also left the club, the departure of top scorer Andrej Kramaric is likely to prove the biggest problem, given that the club have failed to sign him a replacement. Even if the team looked pretty good during pre-season and started the league campaign with a win, there is every chance that they will struggle to match experienced Dinamo Minsk with four key players missing.
Ivan Peko and Domagoj Pavicic miss out through injury, but talented forward Petar Misic looks set to start on the left wing.
The most important thing for Dinamo is that three star signings have produced excellent performances in their first ever match for the club and with them in the side the hosts look a good bet to see off their less illustrious opponents. Lokomotiva will struggle to compensate for the departure of key players, while their lack of experience is also going to be a problem.
Top pick: Home win 2.10 (11/10) @ Coral
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 2.05 (21/20) @ William Hill
Alternative pick 2: Dinamo/Dinamo 3.60 (13/5) @ Paddy Power
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