We can surprise Manchester City, says Dinamo Zagreb star Mislav Orsic
Rodri believes central defensive injury crisis is no 'excuse' for Citizens
After scoring a hat-trick in arguably the biggest upset of the opening round of Champions League fixtures, Mislav Orsic has warned Manchester City that they could be Dinamo Zagreb's next victims.
Orsic was the star man in the Croatian champions' 4-0 mauling of last season's Serie A surprise packages Atalanta on Sept 19.
The 26-year-old is the competition's joint-leading scorer heading into Dinamo's daunting clash with City at the Etihad Stadium, alongside Red Bull Salzburg's teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland.
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The Croatian midfielder said Dinamo already hinted at their potential to surprise, having beaten Fenerbahce, Anderlecht and Benfica in last season's Europa League.
He said: "We already had a great European result last season and this is only the continuation.
"We have everything necessary to become a presence in Europe...
"We all know who we are playing but that shouldn't demotivate us.
"We badly wanted the Champions League and to compete with the best clubs, and that's what we have. It's all up to us.
"If we play to 110 per cent of our abilities and catch City by surprise, then anything is possible."
City faced Eastern European opposition in their Champions League opener, and manager Pep Guardiola will be hoping the clash against Dinamo goes as smoothly as the 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.
The Citizens have largely looked imperious this season, but their main area of concern has been central defence.
City are missing the injured John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, and the manager was forced to field the makeshift pairing of Nicolas Otamendi and midfielder Fernandinho in central defence against Everton on Saturday.
The English Premier League champions had some shaky moments defensively at Goodison Park but emerged 3-1 winners to maintain the gap to Liverpool at five points.
Guardiola said the 34-year-old Fernandinho had the durability to fill in at centre-half despite his age.
"If he feels fit, he can play (twice a week)," Guardiola said yesterday.
"It depends on him in terms of physical regeneration after the games.
"When John is back, we will have an alternative, and now we have young alternatives (Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis). Rodri can play in that position (as well).
"Last season, he (Fernandinho) started to struggle a little bit, the last part of the season, but the previous season he played every three days.
"He was one of the players with most minutes."
Guardiola praised the 31-year-old Otamendi as a "huge competitor", saying he could also play regularly despite slipping down the pecking order last season.
Midfielder Rodri said the spate of defensive injuries was not an "excuse" for City.
"We have enough players to fit this problem," he said.
"We have players who can play in many positions like Fernandinho and (Oleksandr) Zinchenko.
"It's a tough time for the team but it will make us stronger."
Guardiola also had warm words for Riyad Mahrez, who impressed in the win over Everton and has been directly involved in 17 goals in his past 17 starts for City in all competitions.
"He's been so decisive, clinical. Defensively his commitment is higher than last season and offensively every time... you have this feeling he is going to create something," said the City boss.
"Hopefully, he can maintain that level for a long time." - AFP
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