Once we see these qualifiers come up we know that the season is fast approaching, the winner of this Bate & Dundalk tie will still have to negotiate another qualifying round before getting to the Group Stages of the UEFA Champions League. An Irish team has never made the group stages of the Champions League and Dundalk probably couldnt have gotten a tougher draw as BATE the belarussian champs have been Champions League regulars over the last few seasons. Dundalk though look likely to repeat in the League of Ireland and have assembled a strong squad who are playing good football. McMillan will lead the line for the team playing out of Oriel Park on the East Coast of Ireland, a good finisher McMillan has seven in nineteen this season, he lies behind top scorer Towell who has been brilliant this year contributing thirteen to the cause. Horgan will chip in with a goal here and there as well but the strength of this team is arguably their defence as they have only conceded thirteen in nineteen games so far this season.
BATE come into this game on a twenty one game unbeaten streak, basically BATE have not lost yet this season. Their last loss was in the Champions League to Atletic Club in December. BATE are a strong side, playing very good football at the moment and they are playing in a much stronger league than Dundalk. Rodionev and Karnitskiy will be the key men for BATE and it will be interesting to see how Dundalk try to handle the threat presented by Rodionev who is BATE's top scorer this season. BATE are definitely deserved favourites in this game but the Lilywhites of Dundalk have good form away from home and they managed a win in against Hadjuk Split in Croatia last season.
I think there is value in taking both teams to score here. I like Dundalk to get a goal over in Belarus in a game that should be entertaining to watch. While Dundalk are a team with a good defence they have an attack that can score goals and they come into this game off the back of a 4-2 win at the weekend. BATE play in the better league, have the better European experience and on paper have the better team they should get the win here but I wouldnt count out a surprise in this the pick of the third round qualifiers.