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BATE belief boosts Stasevich

Buoyed by a third successive Belarussian title and a promising group-stage campaign, FC BATE Borisov's Igor Stasevich is confident his side can continue to impress as they welcome FC Zenit St. Petersburg in Group H.

BATE's Igor Stasevich is wary of the threat Zenit pose
BATE's Igor Stasevich is wary of the threat Zenit pose ©Pressball

After securing their fifth Belarussian title, FC BATE Borisov's Igor Stasevich insists the pressure is still on his team-mates ahead of their Group H meeting with FC Zenit St. Petersburg, although the midfielder concedes it is nice to leave behind at least "one headache".

'One less headache'
Stasevich lifted a third successive Vysshaya Liga championship with BATE on Friday following a 2-1 home win against FC Torpedo Zhodino. "I think we will raise our game now we have got the title – especially as it's the first time we have clinched it in Borisov," Stasevich told uefa.com. "It will not exactly make things easier in the Champions League, but at least it is one less headache for us."

Confidence growth
Three games into the group stage, Stasevich thinks BATE are a much more confident outfit than the side that took the field on Matchday 1 – a belief backed by results. Conceding that nine-time European champions Real Madrid CF "were one or two levels better than us" in their opening game, Stasevich says his team have grown into the challenge as BATE earned unexpected draws at home to Juventus and away to Zenit. "The experience should help us, as each match has given more confidence to every player and confidence is the key ingredient of success. European games cannot be compared with league ones so we have gained useful experience."

Counterattacking approach
The group-stage debutants were even two goals up midway through the first half of their encounter with Juve, although Stasevich predicts such a lead might not be enough for even a point against the Russian visitors. "During our first game against Zenit we had to defend most of the time and basically played on the counterattack," he added. "I don't think we'll change our approach at home, because Zenit are different from Juventus and can win even if they concede two early goals. We cannot start attacking like mad from the beginning." Stasevich, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Matchday 3, also pinpoints Andrei Arshavin as Zenit's most potent attacking weapon while Danny "looked great" in St Petersburg. "I defended a lot in our last match and tangled with both of them," he said.

Possible exodus
BATE coach Viktor Goncharenko has commented that "it will be virtually impossible to keep this high-quality squad" together after such an impressive campaign, given "the majority of the players have nothing more to win in Belarus". Stasevich confirms those fears, saying: "I want to test myself at a new level – I am the right age to start thinking of leaving Belarus." However, the Belarussian international knows there is still work to do in his homeland, with BATE having a great chance to prolong their European season into the new year. "Theoretically, a draw on Wednesday would be a fine result," explained Stasevich, whose third-placed team sit just a point above Zenit. "However, the winning mentality is deeply ingrained in our squad and we always aim to win."