By Lee Dover | Champions League
Think back to the summer of this year, a wonderful time before referees started getting accused of racially abusing Premier League stars and Real Madrid fans were certain that their club were going to win back-to-back La Liga titles.
Now we are there, have a think whether you had ever heard of a team called BATE Borisov. No-one coming forward to claim they knew the ins and outs of this Belarusian football club? Thought not.
A mere two calendar seasons later – yes, we believe winter has arrived because the snow is already here – and BATE Borisov are all of a sudden the talk of the town.
Just look at how they have crashed the prestigious Champions League party. Put to test against Valencia, Bayern Munich and Lille in Group F, many football fans will be forgiven for assuming they would succumb to the trio of European giants and quietly head back to domestic football for another year come Christmas.
Instead, BATE Borisov have taken the bull by the horns and literally given the animal the beating of its life. Honestly, we’re surprised animal rights representatives haven’t been called in.
The Belarusians hit the ground running with a tremendous 3-1 victory away to Lille on their opening match of the 2012/13 Champions League group stages and have not eased up ever since.
Another 3-1 scoreline was recorded when BATE Borisov welcomed Bayern Munich to the Town Stadium – it was a result that truly shook the foundations of the football world.
Mind you, every up has to have a down and BATE’s came towards the end of October when they were given a lesson in football, courtesy of Valencia.
The La Liga club showed the world why they should still be considered one of the Spanish giants – Malaga are lurking in the wings with their unlimited stream of cash after all – when they thrashed their Belarusian opponents 3-0.
However, it would be foolish to think that BATE Borisov are now down and out. You don’t win six back-to-back Belarusian league titles and two domestic cups by falling into the abyss every time one result doesn’t go your way.
Oh, and did we mention the club were also the 2010 Belarus Supercup victors too – no easy feat with the likes of Dinamo Minsk and Gomel around.
There’s no reason that BATE can’t come back fighting tomorrow night and hand Valencia a punishing defeat on the Spaniards home turf at huge odds of 9/1.
Want a little more value? Vitali Rodionov was on the scoresheet of BATE’s first two Champions League games of the season and is a tempting 4/1 to score at anytime against Valencia.
Will you take the BATE?