Friday, 17:00, Live Stream on PP.com
The Belarusian Premier League remains the only show in town in terms of “top” level competitive football action. So, if you are planning on watching the ‘Friday night lights’ game between Dinamo Minsk and Torpedo BelAZ here are some “interesting” facts (still hard to say facts without thinking of Benitez…)
Fact 1 – This should not be confused with the East Anglian derby between Ipswich v Norwich, which is what you get back If you google ‘Tractor Derby’ – the correct name for that heated rivalry is the Old Farm derby, obviously.
Anyway, why is this game in Eastern Europe deserving of such a cool derby title? Well, firstly, the match is taking place at the Traktar (translation: Tractor, in case you’ve not kept up with those Berlarusian lessons) Stadium, home of Dinamo Minsk. Where, as the away team, Torpedo are sponsored by BelAZ, manufacturer of earthmoving equipment and the like.
Therefore, we have the Tractor Derby, and it’ll be bigger than when Massey Ferguson knocked out John Deere in the Agricultural Olympics back in ’09…. ok, I know, this is terrible, back to Netflix.
Fact 2 – Any Shelbourne fans looking to support a Belarusian team for the coming season could do worse than Dinamo Minsk. Since the independence of Belarus, they have won seven of the 29 league titles, but also won the Soviet Top League (once) previously when they competed in that.
But more important than all of that, they have eliminated League of Ireland sides Bohemians (1997), St Pats (2016) and Derry City (2018) from European competition. Fact.
Fact 3 – Torpedo’s manager Yuri Puntas has won the Belarusian League and cup with previous clubs and like Steven McClaren he managed his national team to a very unsuccessful Euro 2008 Qualifying campaign. Due to some poor early results in qualifying, Puntas was sacked with five games left, after which Belarus picked up some form and went on to beat Albania and the mighty Netherlands.
If only the English FA had been as decisive with the Wally with the Brolly….
Fact 4 – You should continue to follow the local guidelines of your relevant health authorities. We all have our part to play.
Fact 5 – Instead of researching and catching up on Belarusian highlights last night, I started re-watching ‘the Wire, so sorry about that, but what a show!
However, I can tell you from looking at the form of these sides that, despite Dinamo Minsk being the bigger club, both teams are considered relatively equal in terms of quality right now. The final league positions last season suggest these teams are relatively similar in terms of strength. They finished fourth and sixth respectively last season, just five points separating them, and with goal differences of just +4 and +5.
The match prices reflect this opinion also, with Dinamo Minsk priced at 6/5 to win, tells me they are favourites purely based on home advantage and the market considers little difference between the teams.
But does home advantage count for much in a derby as big as this?
Dinamo Minsk have started the season poorly, with four defeats across the league and cup, conceding nine goals in four games. While Torpedo are out of the cup too, they have got two wins in the league and would be in slightly better form coming into this.
Torpedo also did the double over Dinamo Minsk last season, winning 4-0 at home and 3-0 away.
My tips, in this order, would be
1. Stay safe
2. Watch The Wire
3. Do not make WFH videos pretending to be a DJ with your ironing board or whatever
4. If you are watching the Tractor Derby and want a bet out of interest, then Torpedo to win at the bigger price of 9/4 would be my bet