"Spirits are high as they always are ahead of UEFA Champions League matches," said Viktor Goncharenko as FC BATE Borisov look to end LOSC Lille's slim Group F hopes.
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Recently crowned Belarusian champions for a ninth time, FC BATE Borisov are full of confidence as they look to complete a UEFA Champions League Group F double over winless LOSC Lille in Minsk. While home coach Viktor Goncharenko is eager to keep pace with section leaders FC Bayern München and Valencia CF, the trail has almost gone cold for LOSC but their coach, Rudi Garcia, is asking his young side to make one final push as they bid to snatch a UEFA Europa League berth.
Viktor Goncharenko, coach
Spirits are high as they always are ahead of UEFA Champions League matches. We cannot say that this is the biggest game of the season as we have had many of them already against Vardar, Debreceni, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and then our first game against LOSC [a 3-1 victory in September]. We just need to get the required result.
Despite two consecutive defeats by Valencia, this is a tournament where you have to forget about previous results and prepare yourself for one game at a time. We have to focus on our opponents and forget about Valencia and Bayern – we will find out their result after the match.
We can't say that LOSC are in crisis or are a wounded animal. They are a team from a top league and they have a quality squad, so I do not think there is a crisis. We usually try to play our own game in the league but it is a different story in Europe where we try to contain opponents. Our opponents have taken us more seriously since the wins in our opening two games but it is interesting to see what we are capable of in this situation as well.
Saturday: Slavia Mozyr 0-0 BATE
Gorbunov; Polyakov, Radkov (Filipenko 60), Simić, Yurevich; Olekhnovich, Sivakov, Volodko, Baga (Kontsevoi 75); Mozolevski, Rodionov (Bressan, 66).
• BATE, who wrapped up the Belarusian Premier League title last week, drew for the first time in 11 games in all competitions.
Aleksandr Pavlov is out until the end of the season with a hamstring problem. Dmitri Mozolevski suffered a head injury at Mozyr and is a serious doubt.
Rudi Garcia, coach
Some players stayed back in France because of injuries; others, like Mathieu Debuchy, need a rest after a busy period. Anyway, I trust the young players. They are very enthusiastic and can get the result we expect from them.
The main thing is to give it our best. BATE are a strong team, as they showed when they scored three goals before half-time in Lille on matchday one. We had a better second half in that game and we hope to carry on where we left off.
We played to win from the very first game, but have failed to pick up any points. I hope to see a different result tomorrow. We are interested in getting into the Europa League – the situation is difficult but we will try to improve it. We have to score goals and do not need to think about anything else.
Friday: FC Lorient 2-0 LOSC (Bourillon 24, Corgnet 69)
Landreau; Debuchy, Basa, Chedjou, Bonnart; Mavuba, Balmont (Klonaridis 81), Pedretti (Gueye 71); Kalou, Roux (De Melo 67), Payet.
• Lorient won their first game since 16 September to inflict a first loss in five on Lille.
LOSC came to Minsk with a young squad, with six regulars left in France. Aurélien Chedjou (adductor), Túlio De Melo (adductor), Ryan Mendes (ankle) and Franck Béria (calf) are carrying injuries, while Debuchy and Florent Balmont were rested.
• LOSC must win by a greater margin than 3-1 to have any hope of overtaking BATE, currently six points better off, in third place.