Set to take on Real Madrid CF on Tuesday, FC BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko believes his team can still qualify from Group H: "As long as we still have a chance, we'll play to win against any team, even Madrid."
Article top media content
Ahead of their meeting with Real Madrid CF on Tuesday, FC BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko claims his team still have their sights set on 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 phase. "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 trainer. "We respect Madrid but we're not afraid of them."
BATE go into the match on something of a high having overturned a three-goal first-leg deficit against FC Minsk in the last 16 of the Belarussian Cup before prevailing on penalties. "This positive result can give us a platform to build on against Madrid," said Goncharenko, whose only significant absentee is defender Vladimir Rzhevski, who broke his ankle against FC Zenit St. Petersburg on Matchday 4. Vitali Kazantsev is in line to replace Rzhevski, while captain Aleksandr Ermakovich and promising anchor man Aleksandr Volodko are back from injury. However, Goncharenko is keeping his cards close to his chest: "Tactics and the starting lineup are our own private matter."
Playmaker Sergei Kryvets is in optimistic mood, having played in BATE's 2-0 Matchday 1 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu. "I'd dreamed of playing against Madrid one day. Having now played against them, I have a new dream – to beat Madrid." Given the inconsistent form and flurry of injuries that have afflicted Bernd Schuster's side in recent weeks, his latest dream could yet become reality.
Facing a late fitness test on a calf knock will be Merengues midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who limped off after 65 minutes of Saturday's 1-0 home win against RC Recreativo de Huelva. Forward Gonzalo Higuaín, meanwhile, scorer of nine goals in eleven Liga outings this term, has joined Fabio Cannavaro and Ruud van Nistelrooy on the sidelines. Javier Saviola could deputise for compatriot Higuaín 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 in Belarus's capital Minsk. "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.
Job to do
"I don't think we played that badly against Juventus," continued the German, referring to his team's 2-0 home loss to the Italian club and group leaders 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 [FC] and [FC] Barcelona around that time."