Having recently finished Tiger King, I went in search for something equally as exciting & dramatic to captivate me – step forward the Vysheyshaya Liga. One look at the truly bizarre squad numbers across every team had me hooked. Admittedly there’s not much else going on in the world of football right now, so immersing myself in the history of the Belarusian Premier League and watching extended highlights of its opening weekend has not only helped pass a few hours but was considered ‘work’ when the boss came asking about my productivity from home.
In all seriousness, due to the unprecedented circumstances facing us all, the Belarusian Premier League remains one of the last football competitions in action. While this league is still going on, let’s find a few winners to back.
This Saturday lunch-time sees Slavia Mozyr host BATE Borisov.
BATE are, without doubt, Belarus’ most well known and most decorated club. From 2006-2018 the club recorded 13 straight league titles. Add to this several Champions League and Europa League group stage appearances throughout the years, it’s clear to see why they’re the greatest Belarusian team of all time.
Last year, however, they were only good enough for 2nd place in the league. Then, manager Aleksey Baga was shown the door and has been replaced by reserve team manager Kirill Alshevskiy. Alshevskiy couldn’t have made a worse start to the campaign, BATE (around 1/7 favs) suffering a shock 3-1 defeat away to Energetik-BGU. Centre half Zakhar Volkov was particularly poor for two of the goals, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes to the BATE backline.
Slavia Mozyr also suffered a 3-1 defeat in Match Day 1, away to Slutsk. Five penalties graced this game – Slavia opening the scoring with their only spot-kick. Two penalties followed for Slutsk, one scored and one missed. Tied at 1-1, Slavia had a man sent off which proved a turning point in the match.
Another Slutsk penalty followed soon after, which was saved but had the rebound converted. The fifth and final penalty of the game soon followed and was tucked away, wrapping up the 3-1 win for Slutsk (I don’t speak Belarusian but the commentator struggling to contain a fit of laughter at penalty number five being awarded, suggests this isn’t a weekly occurrence!).
Apart from the glut of penalties they conceded, a real worry for Slavia Mozyr was the injury to Dennis Tetteh early in the second half. The frontman pulling up with what looked to be a hamstring problem. He will be a big loss if not fit enough to return this weekend.
Both teams suffered the same fate last weekend, and both will be looking for a response this time around. When considering a bet, I think it will be BATE who bounce back here. Thirty-odd points separated the sides last season and BATE have much the same squad. The gulf in class should be too much here. I expect a very fast start, so like the look of BATE/BATE in the Half Time/Full Time market @11/10.
As I expect BATE to start quickly and get the first goal, I like the look of Maksim Skavysh First Goalscorer @4/1. He has netted three from three in all competitions so far this season.
Another goalscorer angle I like is Stanislav Dragun to score at any time. The midfielder top-scored for BATE in the league last year with an impressive 14 goals. He also impressed recently during Belarus’ Nations League campaign netting five goals in six games. Clearly, he has an eye for goal and 7/4 Anytime Goalscorer looks a fair price.