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Preview: Slutsk vs. Vitebsk - prediction, form guide, head-to-head records

:Headline: Preview: Slutsk vs. Vitebsk - prediction, form guide, head-to-head records:
Sports Mole looks ahead of Saturday's Belarusian top-flight clash between Slutsk and Vitebsk, including predictions, form guides and head-to-head records.

Gameweek four of the Belarusian top flight will go ahead as planned despite almost everywhere else in world football shutting down to the coronavirus pandemic, and either Slutsk and Vitebsk could move top of the table when they meet on Saturday lunchtime.

Both clubs have taken six points from their opening two games and will be hoping to make the most of playing before early front-runners Energetyk-BGU.

Match preview

Slutsk and Vitebsk both suffered disappointing campaigns last season, finishing 11th and 13th respectively, so their solid starts to the 2019-20 campaign will come as welcome news.

For Vitebsk, who only avoided a relegation playoff by one point last term, their 1-0 triumphs over Gorodeya and newly-promoted Smolevichy-STI will be a very encouraging sign that their 2018-19 season was an anomaly, having finished fourth the year before.

Saturday's match will already be their third on the road this season and their victory over Smolevichy means that they could now win back-to-back top-flight away games for the first time since December 2018.

Slutsky have lost just one of their last five top-flight home games, though, and even that came at the hands of reigning champions Dinamo Brest last month.

Since then, Vitali Pavlov's side have bounced back with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Isloch, having also beaten Slavia on the opening day - both teams that finished above them last season.

Slutsk have picked up where they left off at the very end of last season and now boast four wins from their last five top-flight outings, having failed to win any of their eight prior to that.

Perhaps the most satisfying thing so far this season for Saturday's hosts will be their goalscoring form; they were among the lowest-scorers last term but have netted a joint league-high six times already this time around.

It wasn't until their eighth game of the 2018-19 campaign that they scored their sixth goal and they had only amassed seven points after 11 games then too - a tally they could equal after four outings this term by simply avoiding defeat this weekend.

Saturday's match could also see Vitebsk right-back Pavel Nazarenko face a quick reunion with his former club, having only joined from Slutsk in January.

Slutsk form: WLW

Vitebsk form: WLW

Head To Head

Slutsk won the corresponding fixture last season by a comfortable 3-0 scoreline, although that was their first win over Vitebsk in five attempts.

The slightly longer history between the two sides is more even, though - five wins apiece and one draw in the last 11 meetings.

We say: Slutsk 2-1 Vitebsk

Both sides will be pleased with how they have begun the current campaign, but it is Slutsk who will come into this contest as favourites. Their home advantage and goalscoring form gives them the edge over Vitebsk, although both will be hopeful of going on to enjoy more successful seasons than last year.

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