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Milan-BATE Borisov Preview: Start Your Engines

It’s not so hard to write about Serie A, I watch so many games I’m surprised my husband hasn’t left me yet. But in the Champions League, we meet teams that even the interwebs seem to know little about. However, that is not the case with BATE Borisov. I actually was able to learn quite a bit online about them. Enough to know there is one word you should know about them: Tractors.



It’s not just that tractors are Belarus’ biggest export. I would never exploit heavy machinery for such shallow purposes in a post about football. No you see, BATE is an acronym. An acronym that stands for Borisov Works of Automobile and Tractor Electric Equipment. That’s seriously the name of the football club. Brilliant, right? BATE Borisov, the tractor team. I’m in love already. (Please forgive any ensuing tractor lingo, I will try to remember to define the lingo for you as we go along.)

On the footballing side of the tractor team, they have won the Belarusian league 7 times since 1996. They are the only Belarusian team to have qualified for the group stages of the Champions League, having done so in both the ’08-’09 season and of course the ’11-’12 season. In between, they qualified for the Europa League both seasons. So they are certainly pretty consistent winners.


They will look most familiar to Milan from back in the ’01-’02 season when we met in the first round of UEFA Cup. BATE will probably not want to remember that Milan beat them 0-2 at Borisov and then 4-0 at the San Siro that season, ending their UEFA Cup dreams. But a lot has changed since then, they have since use their PTO (power take-off) to become the big team in Belarus and earn the right to compete for a Champions League Title against the likes of Barcelona and Milan, even if winning that title is completely unrealistic.

Their entire roster is made up of Belarusian players, with the exception of 4 grey market tractors (tractors imported from a foreign country.) Of these foreign players, 2 are Brazilian and 2 are Serbian (but they are 2 very good Serbians, if that helps.) Against Barca, Manager Viktor Goncharenko fielded a team of Gutor; Simic, Filipenko, Bordachev, Valadzko; Rudik, Olekhnovich, Baha, Kontsevoy, Bressan; and Kezman. That was quite similar to the lineup vs. Plzen, so my best guess is that we will see a 4-4-2 lineup with this or a very similar starting 11 come Wednesday.

Not sure if this is the team bus or a superfan's personal ride, but it is awesome.

Milan will likely employ their hydrostatic transmission (a feature which varies the speed forward or backward automatically based on pressure on the gas pedal.) After such a successful match on Saturday, it is hard to think of Allegri fielding a lesser lineup. Many have speculated he might rest some players for this match, given that our chances of winning are quite high. Yet with Champions League success as our goal this year, it would be mighty embarrassing to draw or lose to the tractor team because he was trying to rest too many players. So this will be a guess-your-own-lineup post.

BATE do have three players carrying yellow cards: Simic, Olekhnovich, and Bressan. Whereas van Bommel and Nesta are each carrying a yellow card for Milan. With 3 more matches left in the group stage, including the reverse fixture in Borisov coming up next, players will want to be wary of card accumulation.

Thus far, BATE drew with Plzen 1-1 and lost to Barca 0-5, although to be fair, Barca’s first goal was a BATE own goal. The tractor boys were pretty awed by Barcelona, but I am willing to bet they will not be quite so awed by us, so we will probably need to score all of our goals ourselves. We have enough healthy players now that it should not be as hard to find the back of the FOPS (falling objects protective structure) and score.

I wasn't joking when I said that tractors are important in Belarus.

While Team Tractor may have won the Belarusian league 7 times, Team Diavolo has won the Champions League 7 times. And while this may be a bit of a tractor vs. Lamborghini match, it wouldn’t take much for the tractor team to outmuscle the Lamborghini team. Milan will need to play with the quality and conviction that they did on Saturday to guarantee the win. Belarusian tractors are some of the finest in the world, you know? And they certainly take pride in their heavy equipment. So fasten your seatbelts and prepare for an interesting ride. Gentlemen, start your engines.


This post inspired by the music of The Fixx