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Apr 18, 2020 at 6pm UK at City Stadium

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Preview: BATE Borisov vs. Torpedo-BelAZ - predictions, form guides, head-to-head record

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Vysheyshaya Liga clash between BATE and Torpedo Bel-AZ, including predictions, form guides and head-to-head records.

Fifteen-time Belarusian Premier League champions BATE Borisov will play host to early high-flyers Torpedo-BelAZ on Saturday as the Vysheyshaya Liga enters its fifth gameweek despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Both sides picked up victories in their most recent outings, as BATE comfortably saw off FC Minsk 3-0 while Torpedo defeated table-toppers Energetik-BGU 2-0 last weekend.

Match preview

Players from Belarusian clubs FC Torpedo and Belshina in action during the match despite most sport being cancelled around the world as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues© Reuters

Despite recording two losses from their opening two games of the 2020 Belarusian Premier League campaign, BATE have begun to show their true selves with comfortable victories over Minsk and Rukh Brest.

The 15-time Vysheyshaya Liga champions were forced to settle for the runners-up spot in the top flight last year, as Dinamo Brest ended BATE's incredible run of 13 consecutive league titles since 2006.

Kirill Alshevskiy's side have never finished outside the top five in the Belarusian Premier League, but they currently find themselves in seventh place at this early stage of the season.

It has been far from an expected start for Alshevskiy's men, but the BATE manager will no doubt be optimistic about his side's fortunes following results over the past couple of weeks.

Furthermore, the three-time Belarusian Cup champions have not failed to score in the league since they were held to a 0-0 draw by Isloch last June, and have netted in every game at the Borisov Arena since their 1-0 loss to Dinamo this time last year.

Meanwhile, Torpedo have enjoyed a thoroughly impressive start to the 2020 campaign, recovering from their first defeat of the season against Dinamo Minsk with a 2-0 victory against current leaders Energetik last Saturday.

Yuri Puntus's side have usually found themselves among the Belarusian elite over the past years, recording three consecutive fifth-placed finishes prior to last season, where they ended the campaign in sixth.

However, Torpedo have certainly signalled their intent to challenge for the Vysheyshaya Liga title this season with three wins from their opening four matches, keeping clean sheets in each of those victories.

Only Shakhtyor Soligorsk have shipped less goals than Torpedo thus far, but it remains to be seen whether the 2016 Belarusian Cup champions can continue their impressive early-season form as the campaign hots up.

BATE Borisov Vysheyshaya Liga form: LLWW
BATE Borisov form (all competitions): LLWLW

Torpedo-BelAZ Vysheyshaya Liga form: WWLW
Torpedo-BelAZ form (all competitions): LLWWLW

Head To Head

The two clubs have met 49 times in all competitions since 2002, with BATE recording 30 victories compared to Torpedo's five. Only two of Torpedo's victories have come in the league, including their most recent 2-1 triumph in the 2016 season.

BATE are unbeaten in their last eight matches against their opponents this weekend, and took all three points with a 4-1 win in the corresponding fixture last season.

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We say: BATE Borisov 2-1 Torpedo-BelAZ

If early-season form is anything to go by, Torpedo have established themselves as genuine contenders for their first-ever Vysheyshaya Liga title. Nevertheless, we expect BATE's superior home form to help them on their way to victory in what promises to be a truly entertaining clash.

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Thursday's key events

· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

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· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

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