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TURKEY > Fenerbahçe hopes to survive in Belarus cold

GRODNO, Belarus

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Raul Meireles. AA photo

Raul Meireles. AA photo

Fenerbahçe visits BATE Borisov in a Europa League game tonight, hoping to get a good result before the return tie in Istanbul.

The Yellow Canaries visit the Belarusian champion, which has been by far the most dominant side in its national league.

BATE Borisov has won the Belarus Premier League in each of the last seven seasons, and is trying to translate its domestic form to the European stage.

The Belarusians’ performance in the Champions League group stage has been their best, with BATE’s 3-1 home win over German heavyweights being a particular highlight. The hard-fought win, which was largely heralded as one of the biggest upsets that was ever produced in the Champions League, paved the way for BATE to claim the third spot in the group behind Bayern and Valencia, and get a ticket to the Europa League.

“BATE is a really good team – strong technically and physically competitive,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes told reporters before their second meeting with the Belarusians. “We saw during our first meeting how good they are and, to be honest, they deserved that win. They played a really great game. They ran 128 kilometers in that game – that is a great performance. We only ran 120.

“Sometimes teams like BATE are underestimated. Unfortunately, we did that in Belarus,” Heynckes said.

Earlier this week, Fener defender Bekir İrtegün echoed the German’s sentiments, saying the Istanbul team “will not underestimate” BATE. The cold weather in Belarus will be a heavy obstacle for Fenerbahçe, but the Turkish side will rely on its away form in Europe, where it has won three in a row.

February/14/2013

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