As we enter the summer months, it’s a notoriously quiet time of the year for soccer fans. With most European leagues traditionally putting their feet up by the end of May, attentions turn to ‘summer sports’ such as tennis and cricket. However, this summer sees a small number of professional soccer leagues continue to finish their seasons amid the current global adversity.
Unfortunately, the big boys like the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga are out of bounds at present, but there is football still available in Belarus and Nicaragua, with the coverage of these two relatively obscure European and Central American leagues magnified in recent weeks as fans worldwide seek to get their football fix.
If you are new to watching the Belarusian and Nicaraguan leagues – let’s face it, 99% of our readers will be – we thought now is the ideal opportunity to introduce you to football in Belarus and Nicaragua.
Introducing the Belarusian Vysshaya League
The Vysshaya League was established in 1992 following Belarussian independence. It launched with 17 teams, comprising several from Belarus’ SSR First League as well as Dinamo Minsk from the Soviet Top League. The league’s size has fluctuated through the years as teams have withdrawn and folded, but this year’s campaign sees 16 entrants.
The dominant force in Belarusian football has been BATE Borisov for many years. BATE has 15 domestic titles to its name since 1992. The 2018/19 campaign was the first time since 2005 that they did not win the league championship, with Dinamo Brest going on to secure their inaugural league title. BATE look ominously well-placed to make another bold bid for the championship in 2020, with Dinamo Brest’s sluggish start to this year already costing them dear.
The gulf in quality between the top and bottom teams in the Vysshaya League is sizeable, with newly promoted sides Smolevichi and Belshina Bobruisk both struggling to score goals in the early part of the campaign.
Belarusian football tends to be one of the lowest scoring leagues in Europe on average. Many experienced football bettors look to Belarus as a safe option when punting on Under 2.5 goals markets.
All you need to know about Liga Primera de Nicaragua
Interestingly, the Nicaraguan Premier League – the Liga Primera de Nicaragua – was only formed a year after the Belarusian Vysshaya League. We’re talking about the rebranding of the Nicaraguan Football League to ‘Liga Primera de Nicaragua’ of course, as professional football has been active here since 1933 in its former guise.
There are just ten teams that line up for the Liga Primera de Nicaragua. The league plays out in a similar vein to many other South American football leagues in that it has two stages of the regular season – the Torneo de Apertura and the Torneo de Clausura. After the end of the Clausura – the second half of the campaign – there is a four-team playoff to decide the overall season winner.
Real Esteli won last year’s Apertura and Clausura and will be looking to maintain that winning feeling in 2020. The 2000s have certainly been kind to Real Esteli. Like BATE Borisov, Esteli won 12 out of 15 domestic championships between 2003 and 2017.
The other team to watch in Liga Primera de Nicaragua is Diriangen. The Diriamba-based club are the most successful team in the history of Nicaraguan football, with 27 league titles to their name; their most recent coming in 2006. The head-to-head battle between Real Esteli and Diriangen is akin to the dominance of the Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers in the SPL.
Hopefully this gives you a little background information so that you can kick back with an ice-cold drink and understand the comings and goings of Belarusian and Nicaraguan football while it’s still in the limelight.