BATE’s Hleb: “Totti is a legend. Tomorrow? I like our chances.”

ReteSport: BATE Borisov midfielder Alexander Hleb was interviewed today ahead of tomorrow’s tie against Roma, here are the words of the former Barca man.

You and your team arrived in Rome 7 days ago and have put in a lot of work during these days. Did you expect to have this chance? 90 minutes and you can go to the Champions League round of 16, can you beat Rome one more time?
Yes, we decided to come here since in Minsk there aren’t suitable conditions to train in, we wanted to prepare well because Roma are a very strong team but in sports we all know that there are some surprises: we believe we can win. Roma is one of the strongest teams but we will fight, we will give our all.

I know that during these days you had chance to visit the city but nobody went out: were you tired or did you prefer to stay focused on the match?
In addition to training every day, we got to enjoy this beautiful city with great weather. We also had plenty of free time, there was even a tour of Rome organized for us in the Vatican City. We also took the opportunity to do some shopping. We needed to calm down mentally after all the physicaly work we did.

What did you think of Roma against Barcelona?
Barcelona is one of the strongest teams in the world and Roma’s loss against Barcelona at the Camp Nou means nothing and it especially doesn’t mean that the Giallorossi are a weak team. Any team could lose against them, just like what happened to Real Madrid. You can’t compare the strength levels between Roma and Barcelona, but the Giallorossi players are very strong, they have many champions.

Is Barcelona the strongest team in the world?
Yes, as always, Barcelona is the strongest team. The one team that could possibly beat them is Bayern Munich.

Can we say that tomorrow evening all of Belarus will support you? It could be an incredible moment for a team from Belarus.
The majority of Belarus will probably watch the match, even those who don’t follow football, unlike how it is in Italy. There isn’t the passion (in Belarus) like there is in many parts of Europe.

Tomorrow evening the stadium will be quite empty. Not for the match but for a strange situation in Rome: the Curva Sud, the passionate section of the stadium, was divided with a barrier down the middle. How important are fans in a match and having a full stadium?
It’s not the first time I’ll witness something like this. In my opinion, with regards to the team, it’s not right: if you are a true fan, you must be close to the team all the time, no matter what. It’s a decision that I don’t share.

Like the game in Borisov, tomorrow you won’t meet Totti. What do you think of him?
I’m very content (laughs). I’m sorry he won’t be there and that he’s injured but I’m happy about our chances and what we could do in the match, but anyway, despite his age: Totti is a legend. He would be enough to change the outlook of the match.

The Editor of, John has been covering Italian football as a freelance journalist for over 10 years and has appeared in various publications including,, and ESPN.