Juventus must have been both pleased and wary after receiving compliments from Champions League opponents Dinamo Zagreb as both sides seek a first win in the elite tournament when they meet Tuesday in the Croatian capital.

Zeljko Sopic, the coach of the Croatian champions, placed the 2015 finalists among the favourites to lift the continental trophy, but warned them that they are in for a tough time at the Maksimir Stadion.

“We’re ready for a great game, playing in front of a full house,” Sopic said. “We’re aware of how strong Juve are, but we do not fear them.”

After a 3-0 loss at Olympique Lyon in a Group H opener, Dinamo goalkeeper Adrian Semper said he hoped for a better showing at home, and, like his coach, tried to balance respect for the opponents with trust in his team's chances.

“We’re coming up against one of the best teams in the world,” Semper said. “We’ll give everything we’ve got and look to put into practice what we’ve been working on in training. We’ve done our homework on the opposition and feel ready for tomorrow.”

The Italian champions, meanwhile, did not shine in their September 14 opener, drawing 0-0 at home to Sevilla, and four days later crashed 2-1 at Inter Milan in domestic action.

They then hammered Cagliari 4-0, but faltered again Saturday, needing an own goal in a 1-0 win at lowly Palermo to still stay top, one point clear of Napoli, after six Serie A games.

Winning never hurts, but the unproductiveness of Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic up front on Saturday baffled Juve fans, whose mood worsened after learning of serious injuries suffered by midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah and defender Daniele Rugani.

On the bright side, the Bianconeri seem to have room of improvement as coach Massimiliano Allegri fine-tunes his tactics to get the most from new arrivals Higuain, Miralem Pjanic and Dani Alves, after the departure of Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata.

“This week we spoke about last weekend’s disappointing loss at Inter,” the Bosnian play-maker Pjanic said. “Allegri explained to us the areas we needed to work on and our reaction has yielded two victories [over Cagliari and Palermo].

“We’re now focused on Dinamo Zagreb. We both want and need to win, playing well and imposing our style of play on the match because it will be difficult, but our objective remains that of finishing top of the group.”

Hoping to be deployed Tuesday is Marko Pjaca, a promising 21-year-old forward who played the past two seasons at the club of his native town.

Mandzukic, another Croat, born about 200 kilometres from Zagreb, also had a stint at Dinamo from 2007 to 2010, but looks set to start on the bench to give way to Paulo Dybala.

Coach Sopic, who is 12 years older than Mandzukic, recalled playing against him in the Croat league.

“He was still a raw talent back then, but I remember very well what a brave striker he was and still is,” Sopic said. “Pjaca, meanwhile, can become one of the best players in the world. I’ve seen very few footballers with his ability.”

Related stories

Allegri plays down Champions League favourite tag

Mandzukic tried to give me heart attack - Allegri

Mandzukic brace helps Juve to seventh straight victory

Report: Former Croatian football star Cvetkovic found dead

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.