BATE Borisov celebrate their goal in the recent draw in the top-of-the-table clash with Shakhter Soligorsk, and are now closing in on their 16th Belarus Premier League title. Victory on Sunday over Belshina will take them just a win away. Photo by @FCBATE (Twitter)
- It’s Matchday 29 in the Belarusian Premier League with all games taking place on Sunday, November 22
- With just two games to go BATE lead Shakhtar by a point in what’s a two-way shoot-out for the title
- We list the odds for all of this weekend’s games, offering our best picks in four
With only two games to go, it’s BATE’s title to lose and their draw with Shakhter last weekend has opened up a pathway for their 16th Belarusian Premier League title. This weekend they entertain already-relegated Belshina – a game they are expected to win – and so could then find themselves just one win away from claiming the crown.
There’s also the small matter of a two-way battle for the third relegation place, the one that requires a playoff with the third-placed team from the second division.
We list the odds for all of this weekend’s games followed by our best bets.
Belarus Premier League Matchday 29 Odds
|BATE vs Belshina||-1000||+800||+1100|
|FC Minsk vs Vitebsk||+100||+220||+230|
|Gorodeya vs Dinamo Brest||+475||+320||-225|
|Neman Grodno vs FC Slutsk||-500||+425||+900|
|Ruh Brest vs Shakhter Soligorsk||+750||+425||-400|
|Torpedo Zhodino vs Isloch||-167||+260||+375|
|Smolevichi vs Slavia Mozyr||+450||+375||-250|
|Energetik BGU vs Dinamo Minsk||+350||+260||-163|
All odds taken Nov 21 at Bet365
Pick 1: BATE vs Belshina
BATE are closing in on their 16th title but there’s still work to do. A win on Sunday against lowly Belshina will take them a step closer and one win away from Belarusian soccer’s biggest prize but there’s still no margin for error. With Shakhter ready to pounce on any mistakes, games that on paper appear easy become tricky, and while Belshina is already relegated, they’d love nothing more than to be party-poopers on BATE’s big day.
The odds and stats clearly lean heavily towards a home win and BATE’s run of one defeat in their last eight bodes well for the Yellow-Blues but, equally, one win in their last four suggests they are feeling the pressure. The problem for Belshina is they don’t look to have enough quality to be able to profit from the BATE nerves and two 5-1 defeats in their last three games don’t bode well.
While it’s one that will likely produce a few nervous moments for BATE, there’s logically no case to be made for anything other than a home win. The big question is really the margin of victory.
Pick: BATE to win 3-0 (+600)
Pick 2: Ruh Brest vs Shakhter Soligorsk
Ruh’s season promised much but has ultimately failed to deliver. While they have been safe from the relegation scrap for some time, any thoughts of sneaking into the European places were undone by a run of just two wins in six at the season reached its business end. All they have left is to scupper Shakhter’s chances of winning the title; something they are capable of doing.
For Shakhter, this is almost the Last Chance Saloon. Defeat here accompanied by a BATE win over Belshina would signal the end of their title challenge; one that has taken within a couple of wins away from only their second ever Belarusian league title after an incredible 16-game unbeaten run in mid-season. As it’s transpired, two consecutive defeats – by Slavia and Dinamo Minsk on Weeks 24 and 25 – dealt a massive blow to their chances, which were then compounded by their failure to beat BATE in Matchday 28’s ‘title decider’.
But, having gone so close, they’ll be desperate to take the race to the final day and a defensive record that’s seen them concede on average only 0.64 goals per game stands them in good stead to win almost any game. The key here could be which version of Ruh turns up, but with Shakhter playing for such high stakes, I’ll think they’ll narrowly edge home here.
Pick: Shakhter to win 1-0 (+400)
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Pick 3: Gorodeya vs Dinamo Brest
One more win for Gorodeya should be enough to ensure they avoid the relegation playoff but failure to beat Dinamo will leave them with the prospect of needing to win their final game of the season away at Isloch. With their relegation rivals, Slutsk, at home to bottom-of-the-table Smolevichi on the final day, the need for Gorodeya to pick up some points against Dinamo is huge. This weekend is arguably make or break for them.
For Dinamo, the end of the season has come too soon. They are currently the in-form team of the division but this excellent run – six wins in their last eight games – looks as if it may have arrived just too late to get them into the European places. Two wins in their final two games would take them up to 54 points but the four teams above them – BATE, Shakhter, Neman, and Torpedo – all look likely to exceed that total by the end of the campaign. All Dinamo can do is win this weekend and next and see where it takes them.
All of which adds up to a tense afternoon in Gorodeya; one on which so much is riding. Logic says Dinamo’s extra quality and good form should be enough to see them through to the win but the home side have won their last three on the bounce without conceding a goal. I see value here in the draw.
Pick: Gorodeya and Dinamo Brest to draw (+350)
Pick 4: Neman Grodno vs FC Slutsk
Home defeats by Gorodeya and Slavia Mozyr, in the space of eight days, looked to have derailed Neman’s chances of the title, but a 4-1 win over Smolevichi last time out was enough to just about keep the dream alive. It’s a long shot now though, and Grodno has to make up a four-point deficit in two games – unlikely, but still mathematically possible.
Slutsk, meanwhile, has had a season to forget and their focus is very much on the other end of the table, with them currently in 14th place, which would require that end-of-season relegation playoff.
Only the poor form of Smolevichi and Belshina has saved Slutsk from automatic relegation but they find themselves in the position of having to win their last two – against Neman and Smolevichi – and hope that Gorodeya (currently in 13th) lose at least one of their final two games.
Even that may not be enough for Slutsk, but their first task is to beat Neman. Three defeats in their last four is reflective of Slutsk’s whole season and it’s hard to see them having enough to get a result in Grodno. The home team still have Europe in their sights, even if they miss out on the title, and so, for me, the question is around their margin of victory, with low scoring wins having tended to be their go-to.
Pick: Neman to win 1-0 (+550)
Once just a sports fanatic, fan-turned-writer Gary Gowers has been featured on European television and radio networks to discuss several professional football clubs. His work can be found in an assortment of publications like The Metro, MyFootballWriter.com, and BBC Radio Norfolk.