The Belarusian Premier League remains unaffected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and will soon enter its fifth gameweek as Shakhtyor Soligorsk prepare to host FC Slutsk at the Stroitel Stadium on Friday.
Shakhtyor head into the tie following two goalless draws against Neman Grodno and Smolevichi-STI, while Slutsk rescued a point against Vitebsk last time out.
Shakhtyor have enjoyed successive top-three finishes five years on the bounce in the Vysheyshaya Liga, but the Miners have struggled to reach their usual high standards during the early stages of the 2020 campaign.
Indeed, Yurii Vernydub's side have only won one of their opening four games in the top flight this season, and will also need to overturn a 2-0 deficit to Dinamo Brest in the semi finals of the Belarusian Cup later this month.
That being said, Shakhtyor currently boast the best defensive record in the Vysheyshaya Liga, with only one goal conceded thus far. Even then, Torpedo BelAZ's Gabriel Ramos had to wait until the final few moments to give his side a 1-0 victory over the Miners.
However, Shakhtyor's ability to keep clean sheets has been overshadowed by their lack of clinicality in front of goal; Vernydub's men have only hit the net twice all season, both goals coming in their solitary victory against Gorodeya.
As a result, Vernydub will be aware that results must improve if Shakhtyor are to stand any chance of coming close to a first league title since 2005.
In contrast, Slutsk lie third in the table after an enjoyable start to the 2020 campaign, recording two wins, one draw and one loss from their first four matches.
Interestingly, as they prepare to face a side with the best defensive record in the league, Slutsk can boast the best goal tally with seven strikes from four matches, only being kept out by current champions Dinamo.
Slutsk have not finished higher than eighth since their debut in the top flight in 2014, fluctuating between the top and bottom half of the table under Pavlov and placing 11th last season.
At this stage in the 2019 campaign, Slutsk had failed to register a victory and only chalked up a single goal, but it remains to be seen whether Pavlov's side can build upon their impressive start as the season gathers pace.
Shakhtyor Soligorsk Vysheyshaya Liga form: LWDD
Shakhtyor Soligorsk form (all competitions): WLWDLD
FC Slutsk Vysheyshaya Liga form: WLWD
Head To Head
Shakhtyor have amassed an impressive 10 wins from 14 meetings between the two sides across all competitions, and took all three points with a 1-0 victory in this fixture last season.
Slutsk have scored more goals in the current season than they have in their history against Shakhtyor, notching up six strikes and two wins against Vernydub's side since 2014.
Shakhtyor ran out 5-0 winners in the most recent meeting last August, as Yuri Kovalev recorded a hat-trick in the City Stadium.
We say: Shakhtyor 1-2 Slutsk
We will no doubt be seeing a fascinating tie between the two sides with the best attacking and best defensive records on Friday. That being said, we're backing Slutsk to continue their impressive goalscoring form and take all three points against a Shakhtyor side struggling for wins this season.