Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Here is a heavily edited copy of my notes from today, I have put up three red type selections for my email subscribers none of which you are to read below, but I did discuss two other matches briefly and you can read those, along with early previews I wrote about the clubs concerned.

For details about how to read my daily notes in full, read this page LINK and/ or email me on gowi8@btinternet.com.


Plenty to get through today, all football and across several competitions.


I am going to start with a few words about BATE Borisov and AEL Limassol, which will surprise no one. These two have served us really well already this campaign and have yet to let us down, all the relevant information is in last week's previews, wriiten before the first leg matches and reproduced below, BATE won 2-0 and that is perfect for them ( OK, maybe not as perfect as 3-0 or 4-0), but they are very comfortable on the ball and are ideally suited and hugely experienced at this level in holding on to a lead. Shmona took a long time to break down Zilina here ( 72 minutes) and despite beating Neftchi 4-0, the first goal only came a couple of minutes before the break. They know that they do not have to score early to turn ties around and will not want to concede under any circumstances, obviously BATE will be happy to keep this scoreless for as long as possible and have the players to do so. They have kept clean sheets in six of their last eight starts and not conceded a first half goal in that sequence.They cancelled their league game at the weekend, so have had a free week to prepare solely for this fixture. Not a match that I want to get overly involved in, but as we have discussed it, albeit briefly, I would put up the half time draw at circa 2.05 as the best value.

The task for AEL definitely looks tougher in terms of progression, they won 2-1 against Anderlecht a much bigger club in terms of budget and resources and a "name" on the European footballing stage. However, the Cypriot champions did not look out of their depth in the first leg, far from it and were very composed in the return match with Partizan, when many teams with lesser mental strength would have fallen apart after having a man sent off with over an hour still to play. But that away goal conceded is a big concern . They have prepared really well and arrived in Belgium at Sunday lunchtime and completed two full training sessions here, no weekend fixture for them, so fully focused on this return since last Wednesday, their hosts played out a 1-1 road draw with Oud HL, but rested a number of players for this match . As we have discussed before, AEL are physically very strong, especially in midfield and this where they will be looking to kill off the Anderlecht threat, behind them will be a defensive line of five and behind them, Argentine keeper Matias Degra looks very capable. They will be looking to steal a goal to kill the tie off and are hugely dangerous from set pieces. The hosts have shown bad nerves in qualifying in recent years, losing out to BATE, who at that time were a similar level to AEL and Partizan ( inferior), football is never that simple, but I suspect the hosts will be the more nervous of the two coming into the tie and the longer they go without scoring, the more anxious they will become. Personally I would love to see AEL progress, this is a big step up for them, but they know that APOEL not only made it to the group stage last year, but in doing so drew at Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk and Zenit, three huge clubs and qualified for the knockout stage, so the days when clubs from Cyprus went on the road with an inferiority complex have passed. No bet for me, but I would have to side with AEL +1 ball if forced to choose.




Good Luck.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: ( Written August 21st)


We have been involved in BATE's last two away legs in the competition, favouring Vardar with the handicap start ( 0-0) at a time when the Belarus champions were in poor form and missing several key players , but backing them in Hungary ( W2-0) against Debreceni, when they were showing better form and had not only made two big name signings , but had their trio of promising youngsters back from the Olympics. Key points reproduced below....

Written August 7th
We do have a couple of Champions League fixtures and one involves BATE, whom we discussed recently ahead of their 0-0 draw with FK Vardar ( see below) and especially how poor they were suddenly playing domestically, home side Debreceni who made the group stage in 2009-10 were of some interest after drawing 1-1 in Borisov. But after watching the highlights, I am not so sure, offensively BATE looked significantly better and since the match in Skopje have signed Belarusian internationals Aleksandr Hleb and Raman Vasilyuk. Both played some part in the first leg, around 90 minutes between the hugely experienced pair and now the players who have been in London, will also return. So we can expect a big improvement in BATE in the next couple of weeks. Given that the hosts would snatch your arm off for 0-0, I can see some value in the away side at level ball at odds against. BATE level ball 2.11 asian line.

Written July 25th
From a betting perspective, tonight's matches hold little interest, I understand that BATE are going through a tough time at present, they needed two injury time goals to turn the first leg around and take an advantage of any sort to Macedonia for the return leg with FK Vardar in Skopje. The visitors are far more experienced at this level and have twice made it through to the group stage, last season and in 2008-09, when they were a pretty good team. They have certainly regressed a little since then and by their normal standards are in freefall ! They lead their domestic league by three points with a game in hand, but their lead is normally double figures and they have collected just two points from their last three league starts. They will sorely miss midfielders Renan Bressan ( 15 starts-4 goals- 3 assists) and Dmitri Baga ( 15-5-4), plus defender Denis Polyakov ( 13 starts), all of whom are in action at the Olympics and word is that Vardar and their supporters are really up for this one. The match is a 33,000 sell out, the atmosphere will be white hot and odds look on the skinny side for the visitors, who do not need to win, but I know very little about the home side ( I did try to get hold of some highlights)  , so will have to pass. However, if this is a match you are interested in Bate do have their own YouTube channel and you can see a lot of highlights of recent games on there and yes, they are struggling atm !  LINK

Those two matches worked out perfectly, for us, as well as BATE, they both came on the back of very disappointing showings in the first leg on home soil and they will not want to do things the hard way a third time. Israeli clubs are traditionally strong at home and Hapoel have won both CL matches in Shmona in seemingly impressive style, beating Zilina of Slovakia 2-0 and Neftchi of Azerbaijan 4-0. The visitors do not have much european experience, just one UEFA cup appearance in 2008-09 when they lost in the second qualifying round, they have spent most of the last decade yo-yoing between the top two divisions, before claiming a shock championship win last season, securing the title with five rounds to spare. The long trip to Minsk, where BATE play their bigger games is not only a trip into the unknown for Hapoel, but a definite step up in class and they have to play without striker David Solari and holding midfielder Bryan Gerzicich, along with Macedonian international midfielder Darko Tasevski, Gerzicich is probably their key player and amongst the first names on the team sheet and Hapoel have no real, or at least experienced, natural replacement.

They rode their luck against Zilina in the first leg, where they lost 1-0, the hosts missed a penalty and the Hapoel goalkeeper was in inspired form, they deservedly turned the second leg around but both goals came late and from terrible defensive errors from the same player. They also benefitted from some very sloppy defending in their demolition of Neftchi, after holding out for 40 minutes the Azerbaijan champions went to pieces over the next thirty and the tie was lost.

It is very difficult to see the hugely experienced BATE team making similar errors and defensively they look solid, conceding just once ( to Debreceni and against the run of play) in five starts, they always see the move to the much bigger Dynama Stadium as giving them a "lift" and they arrive with a fully fit squad ,apart from midfielder Dmitri Baga, but the addition of Alexandr Hleb more than makes up for that and the club showed further ambition this last week by resigning another former star in Mikhail Sivakou, part of the team which reached the 2008 Champions League Group Stage and who first put BATE on the bigger European stage. He played 80 minutes in the weekend 0-0 draw with Gomel, Hleb just over an hour, Radzionau likewise and others including Bressan ( who had a goal and assist in the previous outing, a 4-0 win at Naftan.... it should have been six or seven btw) were not used at all, there is now huge competition for places and they are fully focused on reaching the group stage for the third time in seven years. Their midfield looks silky smooth, with huge levels of experience and talent and the loss of Gerzicich will be sorely felt by the visitors in this key area. 1.75 units BATE -0.5 ball 1.97 asian line.


I make no excuses for sticking with AEL who did us two massive favours against Partizan in the last round (see below), they have a much tougher task tonight against a hugely experienced european campaigner, but we get a handicap start and I feel strongly that the Belgian champions would be happy with a draw and try to reach the group stage for the first time in seven seasons in the home leg.

Written August 8th

We discussed the first leg last week ....

I really like the look of this Limassol team. They did not beat much in the previous round seeing off Linfield 3-0 in the stifling heat of a Cypriot summer and whilst Partisan might be more used to the heat than the Northern Irish side, the humidity, even with slightly reduced tempertaures is going to be a problem for the Serbians. Regardless of the level of opponent, it is impossible to hide quality and AEL look to have plenty in their ranks. They strolled around against Linfield, looked very accomplished and confident and incredible dangerous from set pieces. They are made up mostly of Portugese/ Brazilian and African players with a smattering of locals, four of the five Cypriot outfield players are full internationals. Of the six Portugese, three have played for the U21 team, including Sa who was at Fulham last season, one is a full international and the other has played for his adopted Cape Verde, each is very experienced. The three Brazilians and Argentine keeper are all seasoned pros, most of whom have been in Cyprus for at least a year.There are six Africans, all are full internationals and the Angolan trio of Airosa, Gilberto and Dede look really useful , the last two named are very dangerous going forward Gilberto played almost a decade at AlAhly the biggest African club side and is incredible productive down the left, creating a lot of goalscoring chances for the strikers, a lot of height in the AEL team with several players over 1.88m and they poise a big threat aerially. Coach Pambos Christodoulou won the championship for AEL in his first season in charge and after following APOEL as champions they are now looking to emulate their success in last year's Champions League where APOEL made the quarter finals. Partizan have huge european experience, but it is now nine years since they made it to the group stages of this competition and they lost 2-0 to APOEL here, at exactly the same stage three seasons ago. Last year the Serbian team lost to Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League and are not at their best at this time of year and are so dominant domestically, that they get little real competition on a regular basis. They beat Valletta of Malta 7-2 on aggregate in the previous round, but conceded in both and it is very difficult to see them keeping a clean sheet tonight. Cypriot teams are notoriously tough to beat on home ground, especially at this stage of the season, AEL look as good as any from the country we have seen in recent seasons, techically good and very solid at the back. Cyprus clubs are ranked 11 spots ahead of Serbian teans by UEFA and that seems about right, Partizan would probably settle for a one goal loss and away goal right now, as they too are far happier on home soil. I expect a home win, 1.75 units AEL -0.25 ball asian line 1.90 +.

AEL won 1-0, it should really have been two, but they made a cleansheet more of a priority and now they have to go to Belgrade and protect it. The Cypriot champions showed more pace in the first game and were very dominant in midfield, even the Partizan website said they were worried by the "physical advantage " that the AEL players had, "especially in midfield, where they won almost every tackle" and looked to have a big edge. Partizan coach Vladimir Vermezovic also pointed out that the hosts were a good side and very dangerous from set pieces, which was some highlighted above from the Linfield match. All three teams from Cyprus got good results in the Europa League, including a 0-0 draw in Serbia for Omonia against Crvena Zvezda , in a match where the home side only had one attempt on target in 90 minutes, a result which will give AEL great heart. I have to take a little on them to complete the job AEL Limassol +0.5 ball 2.06 asian line.

AEL are pleased with what they have achieved so far and coach Charalampos Christodoulou said " We are not finished yet, we are hungry to succeed and go further in this competition,  we want to do something that will make our families, this club and all our fans so very proud of us. He is without suspended Monteiro in midfield, he was sent off in the second leg against Partizan with over an hour still to play, which makes the 1-0 win all the more noteworthy, they completely stifled the hosts attacking threat ( as it was) and could even have increased their lead.They played their B team in the Super Cup match at the weekend, so have had a clear fortnight to focus solely on this match.

 Hot and Humid in Cyprus and Anderlecht left early on Monday to try and get used to the conditions, they traveled without several important players, but most have not featured this season. I think they would be delighted with a draw and have to take 1.5 units AEL +0.25 ball 1.95 asian line.

Good Luck.

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