No love lost on Valentine's weekendArticle
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BLOG: Tom has never been so far east with the MOTW. In Minsk he expects fireworks on court in the clash between Dinamo and Metalurg. He also admits he loves M&Ms.

No love lost on Valentine's weekend

Go east young man! The word came down from above and the “soldier” must obey.

Minsk is the destination for our MOTW, which, to all intents and purposes, after the Minsk loss at Vardar last week looks like a dead rubber. But on closer examination, this is a must win for Metalurg. So it’s Minsk-Metalurg and I love M&Ms.

Metalurg’s remaining game against FCB looks like a loss and with Vardar playing Wacker Thun this weekend, then they must take two points from the Belarusian capital.

Enough of the stats, Minsk is apparently an amazing city. It is “Constantinoplesque” in that, it is an ancient city where east meets west. Its history is one of bloody events, destruction, raids and revivals from ruin and ash.

It is meant to be an incredible place to visit and is one of the “sportiest” cities of Europe. Just look at the amazing 15k that thronged the Minsk Arena for the game against Barcelona.

You may remember an animated movie called “An American tale”; a story about mice leaving the east for a new life in America. The daddy mouse tells a fireside story about “the Giant Mouse of Minsk”; a tale to frighten bold children.

It is, believe it or not, based on an old legend of a kind giant named “Menesk” who used to crush giant boulders into flour to scare off evil people. He gathered like-minded folk around him and so the city got the name “Mensk” or as we know it today Minsk.

Boris Denic, the coach of Dinamo Minsk is gathering around him very like-minded people also, with a plethora of Slovenians heading even further east to join the team. Mackovsek is the latest in a line, joining three other compatriots there.

They are very close to being a very good team and in any other group may have harboured dreams of progressing to the knockout stages. But not in this group! With only two wins from eight, they are really struggling albeit they have beaten Vardar on home turf.

It just so happens this Friday is Valentine’s Day, but there is no love lost between these two teams. Their first game in Skopje was a niggly affair with a few skirmishes, some rough play and more rows than at a family Christmas dinner.

Atman, erstwhile teammate of the Minsk players was treated to some fairly tough man-handling from his former colleagues. The fact that Minsk lasted until about the 52nd minute shows how close this game could be.

It’s also a matter of record that Lee Harvey Oswald spent two years in Minsk, so expect fireworks again when these two meet on Sunday.

Mojsovski, as we know, has been ruled out for the rest of the season for Metalurg, but they have bought a new player from Croatia called Cindric. All the reports I hear about him say that he is dynamite. 5 goals against PSG in his first game at CL level say a lot. He is only 20 years old, but I have a feeling we could be hearing a lot about him.

Although the Metalurg team is quite well known to MOTW enthusiasts, Dinamo Minsk is a new frontier. You will hear the name Rutenka during the commentary. It’s not Siarhai, it is left-handed brother Dzianis and he is very, very good.

Nincevic on the left wing has also been a good acquisition for the club from Berlin. Shelmenko, the right back is another player you may remember from Chekhovski Medvedi.

It’s a long trip and to add to the romance of Valentine’s Day, it is my wife’s birthday on Sunday. I am in effect, swapping a “Minx” for a Minsk.

So it’s the most easterly MOTW of all time. Our goal to bring you to all the venues of the CL, or as many as are humanly possible goes on. We’re off to one of the cleanest and greenest cities in Europe. Its avenues are arrow straight and its parks are freely spread.

We want the attacks to be arrow-like, but the defences not so freely spread.

It’s cold over there. I’m bringing my long johns and woolly hat. The game will be heated, if the first one is anything to go by.

They say an east wind blows no good; let’s hope they’re wrong.

TEXT: Tom O Brannagain, ehfTV commentator