Tactical analysis: Mislav Orši’s professionalism that saw Dynamo Zagreb eliminated Tottenham Hotspur in the European League

With a 2-0 home advantage from the first leg, he visited Tottenham Hotspur Dynamo Zagreb with the simple goal of getting the job done. They faltered after their success at home, despite Arsenal winning 2-1 in the North London Derby in the Premier League.

On the other hand, Dynamo Zagreb won 5-0 at the weekend, leading by two points with a game in hand at the top of Prva HNL. They had won each of the last nine domestic matches, but the Premier League team was a completely different challenge (as they discovered in the first leg).

Tottenham, however, did Tottenham, allowing Zagreb to overtake them with a hat-trick over 90 minutes and overtime. The disaster brought their European League career to an end, which could reduce Jose Mourinho’s time in North London. However, it was Meslav Ursic, the undeniable headliner, who scored all three of his team’s goals to seal the win for them. So, let’s take a deeper look at its performance.


Dynamo Zagreb needed just 43.2% of the ball to score that historic victory, which means they have very little defense to do. Ursic played an important role here as well.

Tottenham’s right-back in this match was Serge Aurier, whose main strength was without a doubt his attacking threat. Therefore, Oršić fell largely to the left of midfield in an attempt to contain him. With Lovro Majer advancing from midfield to celebrate one of Tottenham’s two midfielders alongside Luka Ivanušec (right winger), Oršić’s defensive position to the left of 3 in 4-3-2-1 was interesting.

With Tottenham advancing further into half of Zagreb, Orši had to get back even further. Therefore, he hit the defensive line at times as a second left-back to keep Aurier in control.

It’s safe to say Oršić was so successful in the mission, with four tackles (more than any Zagreb player), three passes and one interception, allowing Aurier to attempt two crosses and only one shot.

That alone makes the performance respectable, but there was a lot more that the 28-year-old Croatian did.


On paper, the Orši was used as a left winger, but in possession, it played a marginally different role.

Zagreb moved to 3-4-3 in possession, with Stefan Ristowski pushing forward from right-back but Bartol Frangi not venturing far into the opposite flank. Majer stayed forward, so Oršić was to the left of the midfield four.

His relatively deeper position in possession often pulled Aurier out of his center, creating space behind him that Franji could exploit in an overlap. A similar tactic has been used before Arsenal against Matt Doherty in the North London DerbyDespite Zagreb’s failure to exploit the space to the right of the Spurs defense to the same degree.

In other cases, Magger took advantage of this space by drifting out of his position from the inside to the left in the front three.

When Majer remained in midfield, Orši lashed forward into the three front lines. However, unlike Majer, he stayed away, extending the Spurs defense horizontally in this way.

The situation alone doesn’t lead you anywhere, but you do need to be able to create something after you fall into the good situations. Orši did definitely do.


Now we come to the fun part – Orši’s work on the sharp end.

His wide positioning helped him isolate a weak Aourier in defense on numerous occasions, after which he could run as a former right-back for PSG.

A quick change of direction enabled him to outrun the defender, so he had a clear run towards the sideline, which would be a very dangerous cross.

He got there unchecked and could also send a ball through the box, but it wasn’t delivered by anyone. However, the threat was very clear.

The editorial arose with a topical exchange with Majer. Aurier was already out of the equation because his attempt to knock out Oršić before passing Majer had failed, so the 28-year-old winger had some room on the left to bump into.

Aurier lashed back for the cover, but was forced to over-commit and allow Ursic to cut his favorite right foot, after which the Croatian winger unleashed what could only be described as a thunderbolt.

The second came immediately after Mager was replaced by Mario Javranovi, which means Oršić is free to drift inland as well. He ran into the penalty area between Tottenham’s defense and midfield, punishing their lack of awareness with another sure ending.

The hat-trick combined the three traits of Oršić’s offensive play – flashy dribbling, the ability to drift inwards due to a lack of a Majer and world-class finishes.

He started slicing inside and away from both Moussa Sissoko and Aurier (who would later be relocated), opening up a small space for himself.

The Croatian international then reached the edge of the penalty area, scoring the bottom corner with another superb shot.

(Image credits: WhoScored)

The Orši shot map tells an interesting story – six of his seven efforts came from outside the box, only four of which were from open play. Half of those entered, while the oddball also yielded a goal.


Orši’s performance – both in defense and in attack – certainly deserves all of the headlines in the world. He helped his team close Tottenham to one side, while his hat-trick (complete with two amazing singles efforts) won a draw with Dynamo Zagreb.

However, the rest of Damir Karznar’s men deserve a lot of appreciation as well, as each of the 17 players who climbed onto the field with a Zagreb jersey took off their socks. Karznar himself has to be commended as well – he only had two days to put together his class after Zoran Mamish stepped down as he was sentenced to four years in prison after being found guilty in the tax fraud case.

Tottenham Hotspur, on the other hand, was the opposite of the good. They had many big hitters on the field, but were simply flattened by the hard-working and well-organized Dinamo Zagreb team. Hugo Lloris’ comments reflect their frustrations quite well, and once again, a summer change (possibly including something related to the manager) seems inevitable.

Statistics provided by WhoScored.

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