BATE Borisov vs Köln – Thursday, October 19, 18:00BT/19:00CET – Borisov Arena, Borisov.
These are tough days for 1.FC Köln. After having reached the group stage of a European competition for the first time Köln fans were ecstatic last summer, but the euphoria in the Domstadt quickly subsided thanks to Anthony Modeste’s transfer theatre—the French forward was eventually sold to China—and the worst start by any team in Bundesliga history.
Köln are rock bottom in the Bundesliga after a start that saw them collect just one point in eight games. Matchday 8’s performance against Stuttgart completely summed up Köln’s season thus far. Köln were on the forefoot for most of the match and were awarded a penalty with just moments to go in the match following a lengthy video review. However, the penalty decision was reversed. Shortly after things went from bad to worse when Stuttgart scored a deflected the goal that just trickled past Timo Horn to give Stuttgart the win.
The defeat now means that Köln are rooted to the bottom of the league and are in the precarious situation of facing a lengthy relegation battle this season. European football, under those circumstances, could be a fantastic distraction from the bleak realities of the Bundesliga. But Köln’s European expedition has not been successful either. Unsurprisingly Köln were defeated by Arsenal on matchday 1, despite taking an early lead, and while the defeat in London could be noted down as expected to lose to Red Star Belgrade 2-0 at home on matchday 2 was undoubtedly a major disappointment.
Now heading to Belarus, where Köln have never played before, head coach Peter Stöger may face a final to save his job. Although sporting director Jörg Schmadtke has been adamant that Stöger should not be blamed for the results and that external problems, such as failure to land transfer targets in the summer, are mostly to blame for the poor results the mechanism of football are brutal and it would not be a surprise should Stöger be axed should he fail to beat BATE on Thursday.
BATE in the meantime have regained top spot in the Belarusian Premier League from Shakhtyor Soligorsk. Dominant in Belarus BATE have won the last ten championships and are looking to extend their run at the top to eleven seasons. This year, however, they are being pushed by Dinamo Minsk and Shakhtyor and with just five games to go the championship is a three horse race.
The domestic challenge, however, can only be a good thing for a club that has very much become the benchmark of Belarusian football. BATE have the most modern stadium in the country and an excellent youth academy. Located in the town of Borisov and sponsored by a local factory the club has managed to make the most of the very little resources by following a clear philosophy. The club not only trains youth players but also produces exciting coaches, who fit in precisely with the club’s philosophy.
With this in mind, BATE as a club is not too different from smaller German clubs like Freiburg or Mainz, who try to make-up for their financial shortcomings with a club philosophy build on patience and long-term vision. It is that philosophy that has put BATE ahead of big spending clubs even in their own country and also has let to surprises in Europe. After all German fans will never forget BATE’s defeat of Bayern München back in 2012, and now BATE are looking to write history against a German club once again.
BATE Borisov vs Köln – Player to look out for
Vitali Rodionov #20 – BATE Borisov
Vitali Rodionov is BATE Borisov’s most experienced player. The striker has been with the club since 2006 and only briefly left to play for SC Freiburg in the German Bundesliga. Joining Freiburg in January 2006 Rodionov, despite scoring four goals in 13 games, did not manage the big breakthrough and left the club in July of the same year. At BATE Borisov the Belarusian national team player can easily be described a legend. In 397 games he scored 157 goals and 73 assists. He also appeared 48 times for the Belarusian national team scoring ten goals.
Yuya Osako #13 – Köln
Signed from 1860 München in the summer of 2014 Osako has been a productive player for 1.FC Köln. The 27-year-old Japanese international scored seven goals and eight assists last season benefiting in large part from Anthony Modeste’s goalscoring exploits. Modeste has, however, left the club and with Modeste’s replacement, Jhon Cordoba was first struggling and then going down with a long-term injury. The absence of Modeste and Cordoba means that more emphasis will be placed on Osako to get the job done both in the Bundesliga and in the Europa League.
BATE Borisov vs Köln – Match Stats
- The teams are meeting for the first time, and it is Köln’s first exposure to Belarusian opposition.
- BATE’s six games against German clubs have ended W3 D1 L2 (W2 D1 in Belarus).
- BATE have conceded in every European game they’ve played this season, UEFA Champions League qualifying included; their record in four UEFA home matches in 2017/18 is W1 D2 L1.
- Köln have lost their last three UEFA games – two in Group H and one in the 1997 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: BATE Borisov vs Köln – 0-2
BATE Borisov vs Köln – Possible Lineups
Shcherbitski – Gayduchik, Milunovic, Polyakov – Dragun, Ivanic, Rios, Stasevich, Volodyko – Gordeychuk, Radionov
Coach: Aleyksandar Yermakovich
Horn – Rausch, Heintz, Sörensen, Klünter – Lehmann, Höger – Bittencourt, Jojić – Zoller, Osako
Coach: Peter Stöger
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.