Plzen v BATE Borisov preview

Plzen have never before progressed to the group stages in European
competition but their reward for winning six successive matches
from the Champions League second qualifying round was to be drawn
in Group H alongside superpowers Barcelona and AC Milan. BATE are
also in the pool, and the two outsiders meet on Tuesday evening in
the Czech Republic with Bakos, who scored six goals in qualifying,
eager to get going. “Like most of the guys, this will be my first
time in the group stages,” said Bakos. “I’m very much looking
forward to it and I’m very impatient. I want the referee to blow
his whistle.” The 28-year-old is not taking anything for granted,
however, despite his side’s good form so far in the competition, or
the fact that BATE do not have the history or reputation of either
holders Barca or seven-time European champions Milan. “We have to
keep both feet on the ground, because now the opponents will be
even better,” he said. “First of all we must recognise that they
(BATE) have been playing in Europe for a few years. So it’s a team
that has plenty of experience. Although the public may not be as
attractive as teams from the west, but they certainly have quality.
They will be a very tough opponent.” Bakos warmed up for the
fixture with an eventful domestic game against Sigma Olomouc on
Friday, when he scored twice in the opening nine minutes of the 3-2
win before being sent off just before half-time. That victory left
the reigning Czech champions in sixth spot in their domestic
standings with 10 points from six games, five points behind leaders
Sparta Prague. In their last home match Plzen suffered a 2-0 defeat
to Sparta – ending their 30-match unbeaten league record in front
of their own fans. Like Plzen, BATE also came through the
qualifying stages to get to this point, beating Linfield, Ekranas
and Sturm Graz. This is the second time BATE will be taking part in
the group stages, having finished bottom of their pool in 2008/09
after being handed another tough draw with Real Madrid, Juventus
and Zenit St Petersburg making up the opposition. In reaching the
groups three years ago BATE beat in the third qualifying round a
Levski Sofia side that included current Plzen defender David
Bystron, and he recalled of the Belarus side: “They are extremely
tough competitors. “I hope that the game will be sold out and that
our fans will once again drive us forward.” BATE go into the game
having drawn 0-0 in the league with second-placed Shakhtyor
Soligorsk on Friday, leaving them nine points clear at the top of
their domestic standings. BATE are without the injured Vitali
Rodionov, Evgeni Kuntsevich, Dmitri Likhtarovich and Aleksandr
Pavlov, while Plzen are missing goalkeeper Roman Pavlik.