Belarusian Premier League leaders Slutsk will be looking to consolidate their stranglehold at the summit of the top division when they host Energetik-BGU at the Stadyen Haradski on Friday.
League leaders Slutsk have lit up the Belarus league in a way few would have predicted. After flirting with relegation battles last season before eventually finishing 11th, Slutsk were not on the shortlist of title contenders for this season and many pundits expected them to fade away after a brilliant start to the season. However, instead of dropping off, they have doubled down and thrown the gauntlet to traditional contenders and they lead the league at this early stage, two points clear of second-placed Torpedo-BelAZ at the top. Last weekend’s 2-1 win at Dinamo Minsk, with goals from Dramane Salou and Abdoul Gafar Sirima, made it three victories in a row for Vitali Pavlov’s charges and five wins from seven games. Brest are the only side to have inflicted defeat on the surprise leaders who have had an otherwise a near-perfect start in their first seven matches.
Slutsk have the best attack in the league. They have been scoring goals for fun and will be gunning for a fourth straight win against the visitors. Slutsk have found the back of the net 14 times in the league this term – more than any other team – scoring twice or more in five of their seven matches. Vitali Pavlov is likely to stick to this attacking principle against an Energetik side that has been sliding with a poor run of form in recent matches. Russian forward Serdyuk Artem is the leading scorer for Slutsk with three goals in the six games he has featured. But they have had a balanced contribution in their attack with strike partner Gafar Abdoul and defender Koanda Souleymane chipping in with a couple of goals apiece. Nigerian forward Bala Muhammad Umar has also been a critical piece in that attack with three goals in his last three games, and a brilliant assist in the last game.
Confidence is at an all-time high after the hard-fought win at Dinamo Minsk – their first in 8 attempts. There remain doubts however over their ability to sustain this performance level over the long term with traditional giants BATE Borisov quietly putting up a good run themselves that has seen them rise up to third on the log in recent weeks. This match presents them an opportunity to solidify their case and prove the doubters wrong once again.
Energetik have had a diabolical season. They had a terrific start to the season winning their first three games over BATE, Ruh Brest and Minsk in dominant fashion to momentarily go top of the league back in early April. However, they then went on to lose three on the bounce without scoring a single goal which poured cold water on their scorching start. They secured a much-needed win last time out, beating struggling Smolevichy 2-0 away last weekend to end the three-game losing streak and move into 4th position on the table.
Vladimir Belyavskiy will hope that win will return back the confidence and style they showed at the beginning of the season. For a team that finished 12th last season, they have done well so far and are definitely on track for a better finish this season.
Uzbekistan rising star Jasur Yakhshiboev has been their best player this season. He scored a brace on his debut against BATE on the opening day of the season, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder, bagged another against Minsk and kept his cool to put away an injury-time penalty against Smolevichy to bring his tally for the season to four goals to lead the league in scoring, tied with three other players. Energetik will be counting on him to continue his terrific start to the season and they will need every bit of his creativity and knack for goals as they take on the league leaders.
Belyavskiy does not have any notable injuries. He is expected to largely maintain the lineup that picked up the win last weekend with the exception of defender Aliaksandr Svirepa who picked up a red card in that game. Liberian midfielder David Tweh had an excellent outing and scored the opener in the game. Alongside Bakic Dusan, they are expected to carry the bulk of the threat from midfield and provide the opportunities for their forwards.
Slutsk are having a memorable season so far. They have easily been the best team in the Belarusian league thus far, sitting at the top of the table winning 5 games, drawing one and losing just once – with that loss coming against reigning champions, Dynamo Brest. They are on a three-game winning streak and therefore have some momentum coming into this match. They have been particularly good at home with that loss to Brest being their only loss at home in over seven months. We feel they have more than it takes to get their fourth successive win and we are therefore backing a Slutsk Win @ 2.20 as our first betting tip for this game.
Slutsk are also the league’s top-scoring team with 14 goals, scoring 11 in their last five games, while Energetik have scored eight so far. Both teams defences have not been the most prolific though, with Energetik conceding seven and the leaders even more generous, allowing nine goals. This points to a potentially entertaining clash at Stadyen Haradski on Friday. Bwin betting app has a price of 1.80 for BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE (BTTS) and we are going with it as our last betting tip for this clash.
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