Ahead of their meeting with Real Madrid on Tuesday, BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko claims his team still have their sights set on a place in the last 16.
“As long as we’re still in with a chance of qualifying, we’ll play to win against any side, even Madrid.”
Nevertheless, with the Belarussian champions having just two points from their first four Group H games, anything but a win against their Spanish counterparts would end BATE’s hopes of reaching the next stage.
“We are preparing in our usual way. We cannot get carried away by the occasion and we should try to play our best,” said the 31-year-old. “We respect Madrid but we’re not afraid of them.”
Goncharenko is without defender Vladimir Rzhevski, who broke his ankle against Zenit St. Petersburg on Matchday 4. Vitali Kazantsev is in line to replace Rzhevski, while captain Aleksandr Ermakovich and anchor man Aleksandr Volodko are back from injury.
Real coach Bernd Schuster is under huge pressure at the moment and failure to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League may make his position untenable.
Facing a late fitness test on a calf knock will be Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who limped off after 65 minutes of Saturday’s 1-0 home win against Recreativo. Forward Gonzalo Higuaín, meanwhile has joined Fabio Cannavaro and Ruud van Nistelrooy on the sidelines. Javier Saviola could deputise for compatriot Higuain and Rafael van der Vaart is on standby to fill in for Sneijder.
“BATE are sure to be extremely motivated as they’re up against a big club like Madrid,” Schuster said ahead of the game. “BATE played very well against Juventus. I’m expecting a very tricky match, because they’ve got their two leading goalscorers [Vitali Rodionov and Gennadi Bliznyuk] back, after they were suspended for the game in Madrid.
“I don’t think we played that badly against Juventus,” added the German, referring to his team’s 2-0 home defeat to the Italian club on Matchday 4. “The main thing is to win tomorrow, and then we can qualify if we get a little help from Juve. I’d rather not go into our final fixture against Zenit St. Petersburg still needing to qualify as we’ve got league games against both Sevilla and Barcelona around that time.”