Vardar Skopje vs BATE Borisov preview

July 24, 2012
By: Frank Beresford

Two injury time goals BATE Borisov scored in the first leg put them in the driving seat, but having lost the first game 3-2, Vardar still have reason to hope they can overturn the deficit in front of the packed Filip II Makedonski Stadium in Skopje.

Vardar Skopje were once a force to be reckoned with in European football but those days are long gone and the team are now struggling to return to old glory days.

The Red and Blacks have finally won the league title following a seven-year drought and they did it in style, finishing 9 points above second-placed Metalurg.

The team have since stayed without top scorer Filip Ivanovski, but managed to reinforce the squad with Abraham Alechenwu, Aleksandar Temelkov and Dragan Gjorgiev.

Vardar looked really good in the first leg against BATE Borisov, but the lack of concentration cost them dearly as the hosts scored two injury time goals to win the game 3-2.

However, the FYR Macedonia champions are now very motivated to make things right and with more than 30,000 fans behind them, Vardar look a good bet at 4.50 (7/2) offered by Ladbrokes.

With no fresh injury concerns, boss Ilco Gjorgjioski is expected to field an unchanged line-up to the one that started the first leg.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Zahov – Ilievski, Tanevski, Vajs, Abraham – Randjelovic, Temelkov, Stjepanovic – Stojakovic – Gjorgiev, Kostovski.

BATE Borisov are the perfect example of how far the Belarus football have gone over the last decade and the fact this team are regular in group stages of top European competitions speaks volumes about the club itself.

The Belarus giants have qualified for Champions League group stages in 2008/2009 and 2011/2012, while making it to Europa League groups in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, so they are now hoping for a fifth successive participation in European competition finals.

The team have just finished the first part of their league campaign and they currently sit three points clear of second-placed Shakhtyor Soligorsk, although they appear to be going through a rough patch.

BATE ended the three-match winless run with a fortunate victory over Vardar, but it is perfectly clear they will have to do much better in the return leg in order to avoid early elimination.

Given that key midfielders Dmitri Baga and Renan Bressan are away on international duty, odds of 1.83 (5/6) offered by Stan James on away win do not look too tempting.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Gorbunov – Polyakov, Radkov, Simic, Bordachev – Volodjko, Likhtarovich, Olekhnovich – Pavlov – Rodionov, Mozolevski.

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