RFPL Round 17: Betting Advice & Previews

The Krasnodar Stadium and surrounding city. Source: fckrasnodar.ru

Match of the Round – Saturday 13:30 BST: FC Krasnodar – Spartak Moscow

By James Nickels (@JamesNickels)

One-man team?

Igor Shamilov has been under pressure at Krasnodar for some time now, however, two convincing wins over promoted sides SKA (4-1) and Tosno (3-1) has eased the pressure somewhat. This is largely in thanks to in-form Fedor Smolov, who now has six goals in his last four games for club and county (including four in two for Krasnodar). Krasnodar is essentially a one-man team right now despite being packed with quality throughout the squad, and this is largely due to Shalimov’s poor management. However, such a star player can change a side’s fortunes dramatically. When Smolov plays poorly, as do Krasnodar. His first even four-game goal drought resulted in four losses for the Bulls, and his emphatic return to form has likewise reinvigorated the side. Spartak, however, is a wholly different beast from to both Tosno and SKA, losing just once in their last fifteen.

Spartak = Goals

The Red-Whites have been scoring for fun recently, with nine goals scored in their last four games. This is due to the plethora of attacking options and style of play utilised by Massimo Carrera this season, however, are vulnerable on the counter. The side, packed with ageing and slow stars seem to concede often very late and due to their poor transition into defence as a result of a fast counter. Ufa, Rostov and Akhmat all managed to score in this way recently, and I’d expect a pacey Krasnodar attack to do just the same. Right now, aside from a drab and fully-expected 0-0 draw with Amkar, Spartak’s games have all been above 2.5 goals, and I’d expect this one to be no different.

Team News

Krasnodar are still without long-term injury victims Tornike Okriashvili and Stefan Strandberg, neither of which will be back until after the winter break. Pavel Mamaev and Alyaksandar Martynovich are both highly doubtful for the game. Mamaev picked up another injury at the weekend against Tosno, meanwhile, the Belorussian central defender has been struggling with a hip complain for some time now and may not make the squad.

Spartak are without long-term injury victims Aleksandr Samedov, Artem Timofeev, Jano Ananidze and Georgi Tigiev. However, only the former is really a first-team option right now and will continue to be missed. However, they could receive a massive boost by the return to action of Roman Zobnin, who hasn’t featured at all this season due to a nasty ACL injury, but he has, somehow, managed to miraculously recover in just three months and is back in full training at Tarasovka.

Predicted Lineups

Krasnodar (4-2-3-1): Sinitsin – Petrov, Gritsaenko, Granqvist, Ramírez – Kaboré, Gazinsky – Wanderson, Pereyra, Claesson – Smolov.

Spartak (4-2-2-2): Selikhov – Eschenko, Tasci, Dzhikiya, Kombarov – Glushakov, Fernando – Promes, Popov – Luiz Adriano, Zé Luís.

Betting Advice: €10 on goals over 2.5 @1.95 at bet365


Saturday 09:00 BST: SKA Khabarovsk – CSKA Moscow

By Lukas Müller (@LukasMullerDK)

Bottom-placed SKA takes on CSKA. CSKA have an incredibly important midweek game in the UEFA Champions League against Benfica in Moscow, and this trip to Khabarovsk has come at a horrible time. CSKA can’t risk dropping points in the league, but surely the midweek game is their main priority. This might finally be their chance to progress in the Champions League.

Betting Advice: €10 on BTTS @2.37 at bet365


Saturday 11:00 BST: Dinamo Moscow – Akhmat Grozny

By Martin Lowe (@plasticpitch)

This match pits two sides with much loftier ambitions than their current standings and going off the last few weeks the home side Dinamo Moscow have much to do to turn their predicament around.

On their return to the RFPL, Dinamo can have no excuses for being labelled the greatest underachievers of the current campaign. They returned in emphatic fashion, blowing away the FNL last term, but are quickly reverting to the mess that saw them relegated in 2016. Their fortunes haven’t been helped by an injury to their leading marksman Kirill Panchenko, however, the problem is widespread given the budget they wield. A crumb of comfort is their upcoming schedule, which sees them take on fellow strugglers Amkar Perm, Rostov and Anzhi Makhachkala after this weekend.

Akhmat went into the international break in a very different place, finally returning to winning ways by beating Rostov 1-0 in Grozny after four games without a victory. The bounce experienced by the exit of coach Oleg Kononov was instantaneous, but it remains to be seen whether his temporary replacement Mikhail Galaktionov can rebuild a competitive squad in what is his first senior post.

Betting Advice: €10 on a draw @3.00 at bet365


Saturday 16:00 BST: Arsenal Tula – Rubin Kazan

By James Nickels (@JamesNickels)

Two mid-table sides with table-wide form meet this week in Tula. Arsenal have lost just once in four games, in the process defeating CSKA and Krasnodar at home and SKA and Zenit away. A truly remarkable run of form, with a surprising 3-2 loss against Anzhi sandwiched between all this. Arsenal are the side to instigate numerous runs this season, starting Zenit’s ‘mini-crisis’ and Anzhi’s resurgence-lite. Rubin, on the other hand, have only won one game in their last five, against Rostov who are sliding down the table at an alarming rate themselves.

As a result of their recent form and the wonderful performances from Maksim Belyaev, Stoppila Sunzu, Evans Kangwa and Luka Đorđević, Arsenal are moving well away from the relegation fight and putting themselves in contention for a European spot. Kurban Berdyev, however, has struggled to replicate his recent success at Rostov but is more than likely attempting another long-term project in Tatarstan.

Belyaev and full-back Víctor Álvarez are both recovering from respective injuries and likely to miss out, while Gia Grigalava and Goran Causic were both injured away to SKA before the international break and likewise doubtful. Meanwhile, Rubin are definitely missing Moritz Bauer who picked up his fourth yellow card in the 0-0 draw with Zenit. Veteran César Navas is in Spain and misses out due to the death of his father while Ruslan Kambolov is a doubt after struggling with a recent muscle injury.

Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in their last three home games, while Rubin have failed to score in six of their last eight, so I’d wager a tight affair with Arsenal just edging it.

Betting Advice: €10 on Arsenal result and BTTS no @4.00 at bet365


Sunday 08:30 BST: FC Ufa – Ural Ekaterinburg

By Ilya Sokolov (@lokosokol)

Ural hasn’t lost a game since September. By some experts, they are even considered as a team that can fight for the Europa League spots. A bit of exaggeration, probably, but being just one point behind the current champions after 16 rounds is an achievement, so long live Tarkhanov.

Ufa is a much more boring team, and it is hard to understand what football they play. But Semak’s guys are just three points behind their opponents. They also won last three games at home, and it’s a good chance that their series will not be interrupted.

Betting Advice: €10 on FC Ufa to win @2.25 at bet365


Sunday 11:00 BST: Anzhi Makhachkala – Lokomotiv Moscow

By Ilya Sokolov (@lokosokol)

Lokomotiv are league leaders, but the team can’t be called a favourite against Anzhi. Red-Greens have three losses these seasons against teams like Tosno, Amkar and Ufa. Their results after international break this season: 0-1-1.

Anzhi were a disaster, but after but after a disastrous start, they finally began to score points: seven in the last three games. They also scored 11 goals in last 6 games, which is a lot for the team from the bottom.

Betting Advice: €10 on Anzhi to win @4.5 at bet365


Sunday 13:30 BST: FC Rostov – Amkar Perm

By Martin Lowe (@plasticpitch)

After a period of uplift since the start of the season, both of these sides have plateaued to our pre-season expectations, making this a key encounter in the fight to avoid relegation.

Rostov have been in all sorts of bad form, with no win in the league since August and going out in the cup to the same opposition two weeks ago, curtailing you’d think their ambitions of returning to the European football next season. Amkar Perm, aside from their penalty shootout victory away in Rostov three weeks back hasn’t been in great form either, failing to seal victory in their last four, including three ties against similarly ranked sides Tosno, Ural and Anzhi in front of their own fans.

Both ultimately have the same problems, that being in front of goal. Losing so much of their historic Champions League side of last year has clearly dented Rostov’s attacking threat; when Timofei Kalachev and Alexandru Gatçan are leading your fight in the goal scoring charts, you know you’re in for a struggle. With neither looking too frail defensively either (Rostov haven’t conceded more than two this season, while Amkar boasts a better rear-guard record than RFPL leaders Lokomotiv Moscow at present), this looks destined to be a low scoring affair.

Betting Advice: €10 on a Rostov win & under 2.5 goals @3.00 at bet365


Sunday 16:00 BST: Zenit St. Petersburg – FC Tosno

By Lukas Müller (@LukasMullerDK)

Part two of the Northern Derby sees a struggling Zenit-side, without a win in five games, take on Tosno, who have only lost one in the last five games. Zenit need to win this game to catch up with Loko, and not continue their bad run of form after the national team break. They had a lot of national team players in action during the break, representing mainly Russia and Argentina. The national break saw Lunev pick up a dangerous head injury, and he should be out for the match on Sunday.

Betting Advice: €10 on under 2.5 goals @1.57 at bet365


RFN Total: +€617.24

James Nickels: +€231.3 (hit rate: 17/29, 59%) 

Vincent Tanguy: +€99.65 (hit rate: 13/37, 35%)

Thomas Giles: +€87.6 (hit rate 22/43, 52%)

David Sansun: +€82.95 (hit rate: 20/56, 36%)

Jack Beresford: +€75.7 (hit rate 4/9, 44%) 

Will Baumgardner +€62.8 (hit rate: 4/4, 100%)

Ben Clark: +€62 (hit rate: 13/40, 33%)

Andrew Flint: +€38.9 (hit rate: 19/64, 30%)

Toke Theilade: +€27.89 (hit rate: 14/39, 36%)

Lukas Müller: +€7.75 (hit rate: 5/17, 29%)

Stefano Conforti: +€0.5  (hit rate: 3/9, 33%)

Artëm Markarevitch: -€3.1 (hit rate: 7/22, 32%)

Danny Armstrong: -€8 (hit rate: 2/6, 33%)

Ilya Sokolov: -€38.9 (hit rate: 14/47, 30%)

Martin Lowe: -€74.7 (hit rate: 5/18, 28%)

Author: James Nickels

Born and raised in South Shields, the direct mid-point between Sunderland and Newcastle in North-East England during an era of sustained success and European football for the Magpies, while the Black Cats floundered in the lower divisions, so naturally I decided to support Sunderland. I’ve developed an interest in Russian football over the last decade or so, but it piqued while studying for my Masters’ Degree in Russian and Soviet History, and I’ve been hooked by Spartak Moscow ever since. Considers Eduard Streltsov the best of his generation, and a fond proponent of his repatriation.

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