RFN Confederations Cup Predictions League

Cristiano Ronaldo, Alexis Sánchez and Ruslan Kambolov are all set to rub shoulders this week as the cream of world football roll into town to fight for the FIFA Confederations Cup. What a cracker to kickstart the tournament as well; New Zealand, fresh from a friendly win over Irish second division club side Cabinteely, open up proceedings against the hosts in the Krestovsky Stadium (sorry, “St Petersburg Stadium”…) on a relaid surface that only arrived a matter of days ago.

Denis Glushakov, recently voted RFN’s Russian Player of the Season, has high hopes for the tournament. “For me as a player for the national team, it really is a huge honour to compete for this trophy,” he said at the launch of the official ticketing centre in Moscow. “Of course, the team won’t be able to achieve a good result without the support of the fans. I’d like to see full stadiums, and we’ll do everything we can to meet the supporters’ expectations.”

What exactly are the fans’ expectations? Will the venues be full? Will Russia thrash the world champions in the final? All of these questions can be neatly answered and discussed through the special edition of your favourite game; the RFN Confederations Cup Predictions League (just check out that #RFNConfedCupPredictions hashtag trending worldwide).

The Predictions League Game Explained

For those of you who are somehow still unaware of what this game is, the concept is very simple. For each round of games, you must visit the Russian Football News Facebook page and find the preview video for the next round of matches. Underneath, you must type your match scoreline predictions into the comment section, then watch the points roll in as follows –  if you predict the exact scoreline (a ‘Perfect Score’) you are awarded three points; if you predict the correct match result but the wrong scoreline, you get one point; and if you get the result wrong, you get nothing.

So if you think Russia v New Zealand will finish 3-0, you would get three points if the actual result was 3-0, one point if it finishes 2-0, and nothing if New Zealand draw or, god forbid (from the hosts’ point of view), win. Simple, right?

As this tournament has relatively few matches, the leaderboard will be quite close, but to give you an idea if you are performing well you should be aiming for around three points for every four matches, or an average Points Per Prediction (PPP) score of 0.75. The winner of the 2016/17 #RFNPredictionsLeague – that followed all 30 rounds of the RFPL season – was Brian Rappleyea, and he ended the season with a PPP of 0.831, but the average PP was 0.749.

There is one main rule for everyone to follow. Every prediction for the round MUST be submitted before the first kickoff of said round – so in the case of group stage round 1, which kicks off with Russia v New Zealand in St Petersburg on Saturday 17 June at 16:00 BST/18:00 local time, all predictions for Russia v New Zealand, Portugal v Mexico, Cameroon v Chile and Australia v Germany must be submitted below the video on the Facebook page by 16:00 BST. Once Russia v New Zealand has kicked off, you cannot submit ANY of the remaining matches, even if they have not kicked off yet. This is to ensure that it is fair for everyone, and that nobody gains an advantage by seeing previous games or more recent teams news etc.

The final leaderboard from the 2016/17 RFN Predictions League - pink boxes denote above average score, red boxes denote a top score that round

The final leaderboard from the 2016/17 RFN Predictions League – pink boxes denote above average scores, red boxes denote round top scores, black shows missed predictions.

The Future of the RFN Predictions League

Last season was the first in which we opened up it up to our followers, and we had a regular core of around 25 players, but we are an ambitious lot at RFN and want to expand the game further. This Confederations Cup special edition is a taster for those of you who are new to the idea, and hopefully will whet your appetite for the RFPL edition starting next month. To help you reach the right decision, we are going to offer prizes (to be confirmed) for the various games we run.

Let me explain; the main game is a simple version that works entirely on accumulating points, but we also have a PPP game that is decided on the average points scored per matches predicted, so even if you miss a week for whatever reason, you can still compete on a level playing field. Different spreadsheets are produced for each game and published on the RFN Facebook page weekly. We will also run an Apertura and Clausura competition – the former running until the winter break, and the latter running after winter – so there are endless possibilities to win.

Get involved, try out the Confederations Cup game and get your mates to join in too – it’s easy to enter and highly addictive. To help you get in the mood, here’s a quick look at the teams ahead of the opening fixtures…

Confederations Cup Snapshot Preview

Group A

Russia v New Zealand

Saturday 17 June, 4pm BST, St Petersburg

Russian Player of the Season

Russia come into the tournament on the back of two hugely encouraging, albeit friendly, matches. The 3-0 dismantling of a very poor Hungary side – which then lost a World Cup qualifier to Andorra a few days later, the first victory for the tiny mountain nation in 66 matches and their second ever – featured a stunning solo goal by star forward Fyodor Smolov. Back in Moscow, the 1-1 draw against Chile showed a certain resilience against the world’s fourth best side with an attacking lineup.

Killer Knowledge: Fyodor Smolov has scored 46 league goals in the last three seasons, but only managed five in his first eight professional campaigns.

New Zealand narrowly lost to Euro 2016 knockout stage nation Northern Ireland in Belfast despite hitting the woodwork and generally having the better of play. A faintly ridiculous friendly against second-tier club side Cabinteely south of the border proved nothing, and although they are the lowest ranked side in the tournament at 95th, there is still a wealth of foreign experience in their ranks.

Killer Knowledge: Striker Chris Wood finished as top goalscorer in the EFL Championship – England’s second tier – last season, and has played for 11 different clubs despite still only being 25 years old.

Portugal v Mexico

Sunday 18 June, 4pm BST, Kazan

Reigning European champions Portugal will expect to win their group and send their captain and all-time top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo to yet another accolade, but must first overcome a Mexico side who are said to be prioritising this tournament over the CONCACAF Gold Cup later this summer. They have plundered 22 goals in their last five competitive matches alone, and are comfortably on course to secure at least a playoff place in their World Cup qualification group.

Killer Knowledge: Cristiano Ronaldo has had yet another pair of boots especially designed for him ahead of the tournament in Portugal colours.

Mexico maintained their unbeaten competitive home record against CONCACAF rivals USA at the Azteca to move eight points clear of the playoff place in their World Cup qualification group; if they win their next fixture, they will all but guarantee a return to Russia next summer. All-time top goalscorer Javier Hernández will travel to Russia looking to add to his 47 international goals, while record appearance holder Rafael Márquez – who is aiming to appear in an unprecedented sixth World Cup next summer – is also on the plane.

Killer Knowledge: Mexico boast the most experienced squad at the Confederations Cup, counting 1,132 collective caps – ten more than Chile – with 30-year-old Andrés Guardado already on 136 caps.

Group B

Cameroon v Chile

Sunday 18 June, 6pm BST, Moscow

Cameroon will have to make do without Rubin Kazan’s errant midfielder Alex Song and a whole string of other stellar names as they arrive with one of the least experienced squads – only two players have earned over 50 caps, and the squad total of just 355. Second only to Egypt in number of African Cup of Nations trophies, they are no strangers to success, but memories of their last appearance at this tournament are tinged with tragedy – it was in the semi final 14 years ago that Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed on the pitch with heart failure, later dying in hospital.

Killer Knowledge: The Indomitable Lions were the third country to exit a World Cup without losing a game as they conceded just once at Spain ‘82.

Gerson Acevedo has unfortunately been overlooked for Chile's squad, despite extensive experience playing in Russia

Gerson Acevedo has unfortunately been overlooked for Chile’s squad, despite extensive experience playing in Russia…

Chile have long been the hipster’s choice of Latin American nations with madcap genius and street-fighting flair in abundance. Their hugely experienced squad is gradually edging closer towards the end of this generation’s cycle, however; four of the squad have over 100 caps, and ten of the group are aged 30 or over. They are also teetering dangerously close to missing out on progression from the South American World Cup qualification group; just one point separates them from Argentina in the intercontinental playoff place with six games to go.

Killer Knowledge: After 35 failed attempts to win the South American Championship/Copa América, Chile have won the last two editions.

Australia v Germany

Monday 19 June, 4pm BST, Sochi

Australia could well turn out to be the surprise package of this tournament with one of international football’s more innovative coaches in Ange Postecoglou. The Socceroos boss has won admirers for his imaginative use of a three-man defence, but domestic media criticised the move when it failed to overcome a tough Iraq side in qualification for the World Cup earlier this year. The path back to Russia in 2018 is a tense affair, as they sit level on points – but behind on goal difference – with Japan and Saudi Arabia, with only automatic two places up for grabs.

Killer Knowledge: Despite being Australia’s all-time top scorer with 48 goals, Tim Cahill once considered legal action to force FIFA to allow him to represent the Republic of Ireland, and actually made his international debut for Western Samoa as a 14-year-old.

Germany have decided to bring a largely experimental side to Russia, but will still be the team to beat alongside Chile. Joachim Low has only called up two players with more than 16 caps, with the entire squad younger than 30, and only 16 international goals in total across the whole group; expectations for this tournament are clearly more focused on development and building experience then results.

Killer Knowledge: Joachim Low is the longest serving European international manager – and one of the longest serving in the world. He is set to complete eleven years in charge a fortnight after the final.

Author: Andrew Flint

I moved out to Russia in 2010 to teach English because it sounded like fun, then I met and fell in love with FC Tyumen (and my wife!) and decided to stay. Surprisingly, I turned out to be the only English person remotely interested in a Siberian third-tier club, but then who wouldn’t fall for a grizzly Georgian midget, a flying Brazilian and Tyumen’s 93rd most influential figure…

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