Saturday, June 23, 2018

UEFA Champions League Group F preview: Bayern go to Belarus

SoccerNews in La Liga 1 Oct 2012


Bayern Munich will travel to Belarus for the first time to take on Group F leaders BATE Borisov in Champions League action on Tuesday.

The German giants have won all of their competitive matches so far this season, including six Bundesliga matches – conceding just two goals in the process – one DFP Pokal clash, and their opening European game against Valencia 2-1.

BATE are flying in their own way, dominating the less-heralded Belarusian top-flight, and being unbeaten in 16 matches across all competitions – with one of those results being their first win in the Champions League group stage at their 13th attempt.

Viktor Goncharenko’s men beat Lille 3-1 away in France, scoring three times, all in the first-half, to put the result beyond doubt.

They again displayed their scoring prowess with a 5-1 thrashing of Neman Grodno domestically at the weekend, which included a run of four goals in the space of 19 minutes.

This, however, was in a league below what Bayern ply their trade in every week, and the German club will still be expected to beat their lesser experienced opponents in Minsk.

But the hosts at Dynamo Stadium will be full of confidence their game plan can at least see them score, and be competitive against one of the favourites for the European title.

Despite Jupp Heynckes’ side having not played at the ground as a unit, his players are not completely foreign to the surface, with Franck Ribery featuring there for France against Belarus in a Euro 2012 qualifier in June 2011.

Ukrainian international and Bayern midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk also featured in Minsk for his country in a World Cup qualifier in 2009, while star Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic also played at the ground for Croatia in that same qualifying campaign – meaning the Bayern squad will also have a sense of familiarity with the venue.

At least one of Valencia or Lille will open their Group F account when they clash in Spain, in a battle of the two matchday one losers.

Valencia have struggled to 10th spot in La Liga through six games, most recently recording a 2-0 win at home to Real Zaragoza to break a two-game losing streak in all competitions.

However, that form pales in comparison to Lille’s horror run of results, which sees them sitting 15th in Ligue 1 with seven points from as many matches, and winless in their past five matches.

And Lille will need to turn around recent form and history to win in Spain as Valencia have a perfect record against Ligue 1 opponents in European competition, conceding just three times in seven wins while helping themselves to 18 goals in the same stretch.


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