Vidi vs BATE Borisov – Thursday, September 20, 17:55BST/18:55 CEST – Groupama Arena, Budapest, Hungary
Vidi FC against BATE Borisov may not constitute the most glamorous tie in the Europa League on Thursday, but unlike even most Champions League games this season the matchup will be one of two national champions.
Vidi were Hungarian champions, the compete as MOL Vidi FC domestically for sponsorship reasons, last season for the third time – after 2010/11 and 2014/15 – and were one step away from a UEFA Champions League group stage debut after qualifying wins against Dudelange, Ludogorets and Malmö. A 3-2 aggregate defeat by AEK Athens ended that part of their 2018/19 European journey and Vidi dropped down to the Europa League instead.
It is only the second time that Vidi will compete in the Europa League. Previously, known as Videoton Vidi competed in the group stage of the 2012/13 season but did not make it out of the group. Based out of Székesfehérvár the club are forced to play their home games in Budapest as the club’s Sóstói Stadion is currently under construction. Without the home advantage Vidi have struggled domestically this season collecting just nine points from the first six games and as a result, they sit eighth in the Nemzeti Bajnokság standings.
BATE are also a national champion. But the Belarusian side claimed their 12th domestic title in a row midway through competing in last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage. Belarus’ Vysheyshaya Liga operates on a spring to fall schedule and BATE, even points ahead of second-placed Vitebsk, are well on course to clinch their 13th title this November.
Despite their championship, however, they are back in the same European competition having missed out on UEFA Champions League group stage qualification, a pair of 2-1 aggregate victories over HJK Helsinki and Qarabağ preceding a heavy playoff defeat by PSV Eindhoven (2-3 home, 0-3 away).
BATE are in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the fourth time and the second year in a row. They advanced to the knockout phase in 2010/11 but have been unsuccessful in the other two campaigns. With the Belarusian championship almost wrapped up the goal is to improve on last year’s performance where the club finished bottom of their section after taking just five points from their six games against Crvena zvezda, Arsenal and Köln.
Going by current league form, BATE will be without a doubt the favourites to collect the three points on Thursday.
Vidi vs BATE Borisov – Players to look out for:
István Kovács #10 – Vidi FC
István Kovács will be the creative heart of Vidi FC. The attacking midfielder usually operates as a playmaker or a false-number nine in concert with an all-out striker. Signed from Haladás in 2012 the 26-year-old midfielder is a five times Hungarian national team player.
Aleksandr Hleb #11 – BATE Borisov
Aleksandr Hleb might very well one day go down as Belarus’ greatest ever player. For now, however, the 37-year-old is still a member of BATE’s squad. It was via BATE that the attacking-midfielder started a world career that took him from Stuttgart to Arsenal to Barcelona and then to a whole army of clubs in Turkey, Russia and Germany. In-between he returned to BATE five times and his currently on his last stint with the club. This season he has played just ten games, but he still comes on when his club needs a spark from the bench and Hleb still can deliver.
Vidi vs BATE Borisov – Match Stats
- The clubs have met in one previous tie, BATE prevailing 2-1 on aggregate in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (1-1 away, 1-0 home), with Paulo Vinícius, who is still at Vidi, scoring a late equaliser for the Hungarian side in the home leg staged in Szekesfehervar.
- That is Vidi’s only experience of Belarusian opposition, but BATE have also played four matches against Debrecen with the record W2 D1 L1. They won one and lost one of the two games in Hungary.
- Vidi’s eight European games this season have yielded just two wins – both at home – but their only defeat in that run also came on Hungarian soil when AEK Athens defeated them 2-1 in Budapest in the first leg of the playoffs.
- The Borisov club’s away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W2 D3 L4, and there have been no wins in the last four such fixtures. The most recent brought the club’s joint-heaviest away defeat in Europe, a 6-0 loss at Arsenal on matchday six last season.
- BATE’s Aleksandr Hleb scored for Belarus against Hungary in a 5-2 friendly win in Debrecen on 17 April 2002. Vidi’s Georgi Milanov has done likewise for Bulgaria against Belarus, opening the scoring in a 2-1 win in a Sofia friendly on 5 March 2014.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Vidi vs BATE Borisov – 2-2
Vidi vs BATE Borisov – Lineups
Kovacsik – Stopira, Juhasz, Vinicius, Nego – Patkai, Hadzic, Huszti – Lazovic, Kovacs – Scepovic
Head Coach: Marko Nikolić
Chichkan – Filipenko, Filipovic, Milunovic – Baga, Dragun, Rios, Stasevich, Yablonski – Moukam, Skavysh
Head Coach: Aleksey Baga
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. 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 is available HERE. 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.