This weekend’s Belarus Premier League fixtures get underway today, with two of the division’s out-of-form teams meeting this afternoon.
Smolevichy have struggled since gaining promotion to the Belarus Premier League, and are still chasing their first win of the season. The top flight’s new boys may have a chance this weekend with Energetyk-BGU, who have lost their last three games without scoring, arriving at Stadyen FLC Oktyabrsky.
The biggest game on Saturday sees free-scoring Slutsk take on Dinamo Minsk in the capital. Nigerian striker Umar Mohammed Bala is in great form, having scored three goals in his last two appearances for table-topping Slutsk. However, the home side have turned a corner lately, with two consecutive wins. Dinamo also have their own in-form forward in Evgeni Shikavka, who is currently the league’s top scorer with four goals.
For all of Slutsk’s attacking prowess, they still have defensive frailties and are yet to keep a clean sheet this season. On their current form, Dinamo Minsk can cause a shock here and home advantage could be key.
No team is on a longer unbeaten run in the Belarus Premier League than 15-time champions BATE Borisov. Neman Grodno visit the Borisov Arena on Sunday following an emphatic 3-0 win over Energetyk BGU, which propelled them away from the relegation places last weekend. However, consistency has been a problem for them this season.
BATE will be on a high, having overturned a first leg deficit to Slavia Mozyr to reach the Belarus Cup final in midweek. That, coupled with the fact that Neman are yet to score away from home this season, should offer enough confidence to back the home win here.
Whilst BATE were fortunate enough to make it to the Belarus Cup final, current holders Shakhtyor had a heartbreaking exit from the competition. Having lost their first leg to Dinamo Brest 2-0, they were soon 4-0 down on aggregate after a nightmare first half in their second leg on Wednesday. However, an incredible comeback saw Shakhtyor score four goals in the closing 32 minutes to level the tie on aggregate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to see them progress due to the away goals rule.
It’ll be interesting to see how Shakhtyor react when they host high-fliers Isloch on Sunday. Isloch have only played one of their six Vyšejšaja Liha games away from home, when they were comprehensively beaten by Dinamo Brest. Having beaten Dinamo home and away in the space of a week, perhaps Shakhtyor will have the edge in this one.
This weekend’s Belarus Premier League fixtures in full:
Smolevichy v Energetyk BGU (14:00 BST)
Minsk v Torpedo BelAZ (12:00 BST)
Ruh Brest v Gorodeya (14:00 BST)
Dinamo Minsk v Slutsk (16:00 BST)
Belshina v Dinamo Brest (12:00 BST)
Vitebsk v Slavia Mozyr (14:00 BST)
BATE v Neman Grodno (16:00 BST)
Shakhtyor v Isloch (18:00 BST)