After opening their Champions League campaign against Real Madrid, competition debutants BATE Borisov face another tricky obstacle in the shape of Juventus.
“The Madrid match taught us a lot and I hope we can play with more confidence against Juventus,” said coach Viktor Goncharenko, who is without the suspended Anri Khagush following the full-back’s Matchday 1 dismissal.
“The players felt the atmosphere of the big game and now understand the targets they have been set. It is easier to explain the demands of top-level football now,” added Goncharenko.
“Hopefully our presence in the group stage will prove to be a huge step forward for Belarussian football as a whole, not just for BATE,” said the coach, whose most experienced player, midfielder Aleksandr Ermakovich, is expected to be out for the season after a knee operation. “Taking into account the quality of our opponents, a draw would be a decent result, though we will still play to win.”
Juve coach Claudio Ranieri is considering a three-man forward line but admits the “final decision is not yet made”; Amauri will certainly feature having scored four goals in Juve’s last seven fixtures.
“Results show that our form isn’t the best, but I am not really concerned about the goals as they will come,” added Ranieri, who is also without injured trio Jonathan Zebina, Cristiano Zanetti and Gianluigi Buffon while Nicola Legrottaglie is doubtful.
“We respect BATE as they have a very dangerous trio up front with [Sergei] Kryvets, Bliznyuk and Rodionov – and two fine central defenders.”