RFPL Week 13: Betting Advice and Previews

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

Match of the Round, Saturday 17:00 BST: FC Krasnodar – CSKA Moscow

By Will Baumgardner (@WillBaumRFN)

Krasnodar and CSKA come into this matchup tied for third place in the RFPL. Both squads have been in some middling form as of late, as Krasnodar have lost their last two games, while CSKA has drawn their last two. The winner of this game will gain a solid grasp on the third and final Champions League spot in the RFPL, so there is everything to lose. Krasnodar stadium had sold out its 34,000 seat capacity by Wednesday, so the atmosphere is sure to be top notch for this pivotal matchup.

Disappointing Start for Krasnodar

At first glance, it may seem odd to label Krasnodar’s first third of the season a disappointment, given that they sit tied for third place. However, upon closer analysis, the club has had a bad habit of dropping points against lesser sides that have hurt their league position. In particular, Krasnodar’s last round disaster defeat at Arsenal Tula stands out. An early goal conceded goal and 56’ minute red card saw the Bulls register their most embarrassing defeat in some time.

Aside from their penchant for dropping points against lesser sides, Krasnodar has not played particularly effective or attractive attacking football, as they have been known for in the past. At the beginning of the season, this lacklustre play was attributed to the lack of star striker Fyodor Smolov. However, upon his return, things have not gotten much better. Part of this offensive incapability comes down to head coach Igor Shalimov’s constant rotation of his starting lineups. He has no clear first choice XI, and it shows in the team’s lacklustre combination play in comparison to previous years.

Beleaguered Army Men Battle For Champions League Places

CSKA Moscow’s decision to not buy any players before this season started has come back to bite them in a big way, as the Army Men’s season thus far has been impacted significantly by injuries and squad depth issues. Injuries to Alan Dzagoev and Igor Akinfeev have seen youth team players like Konstantin Kuchaev and  Ilya Pomazun called up to fill in gaps. While it is always good to see young players get playing time in Russian football, it is clear that CSKA would be better off having more senior players to rotate so that they could minimize the impact of injuries.

Despite their raft of injuries, CSKA has managed to stay afloat in the race for Champions League places, likely because of the experienced core of players that they have at their disposal. While the Berezutskiy brothers and Igor Akinfeev are not the players they used to be, their experience and steady presence at the back has proven to be enough to keep the Army Men in the race. Whether or not these experienced players can hold this team together for the rest of the season remains to be seen.

Team News

As is typical for CSKA, they have several important injuries to contend with. Midfielder Alan Dzagoev is out of this contest with achilles tendon problems, and his midfield presence will be sorely missed. Also in midfield, the club’s feisty attacking midfielder Alexander Golovin could miss out on this game with an injury that he received in the previous round of the RFPL. The absence of both Golovin and Dzagoev would surely see CSKA forced to start a midfielder or two from their youth team, and could lead to them losing the midfield battle. CSKA are also without defender Viktor Vasin for this game and could be forced to move away from their preferred 3-5-2 into a 4-2-3-1.

Krasnodar enters this game in significantly better shape on the injury front. Rotational players Tornike Okriashvili and Andrei Ivan are the only listed injuries in an otherwise healthy squad. However, in the previous round of the RFPL Charles Kabore picked up a red card, and so he will miss out in this game. His passing from the defensive midfield position will be sorely missed, and Krasnodar may struggle to initiate attacks without him.

Predicted Lineups

Krasnodar (4-3-3): Sinitsin – Ramirez, Granqvist, Martynovich, Petrov – Gazinsky, Periera, Podberezkin – Wanderson, Claesson, Smolov

CSKA (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev – Schennikov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Fernandes – Natcho, Wernbloom – Kuchaev, Milanov, Zhemaletdinov – Vitinho

Betting Advice: €10 on not both teams to score @1.80 at Bet365


Friday, 17:30 BST: Akhmat Grozny – Spartak Moscow

By Will Baumgardner (@WillBaumRFN)

Spartak enters this game in a great vein of form, having not suffered a defeat in their last eight matches. While Spartak’s league opponents during that run haven’t been too impressive, a quality home draw against Liverpool gives the squad something to hang their hat on. Expect new signing Pedro Rocha and Quincy Promes to be the main focus of Spartak’s attack.

Akhmat sits even in the table with Spartak, but with significantly less momentum on their side. The squad have only won one of their last five games, and look to have stalled at mid-table after their start that had some people thinking they would qualify for Europe. A win in this matchup would be huge for getting Oleg Kononov’s squad back on track.

Betting Advice: €10 on Spartak first to score @1.80 at Bet365


Saturday, 12:00 BST: Dinamo Moscow – SKA Khabarovsk

By James Nickels (@JamesNickels)

Dinamo faces SKA meandering ever farther into crisis. It isn’t one quite like at the end of 2016, but a slow, rumbling one with just two wins in six has turned into a red flag since the brutal injury to top scorer and star player Kiril Panchenko. Last season’s first division top scorer had already converted four goals in ten games so far this season until he injured his cruciate ligaments three weeks ago in the Moscow-derby with CSKA. Now, Dinamo has only those same aforementioned two victories from twelve games this season.

SKA Khabarovsk likewise have only won two games this season and lie just one place and point above Dinamo, yet very much expected to be in this position – and may even be happy that they currently do not lie in the automatic relegation spots. Last time out against Rostov, SKA picked up their first victory at the V.I. Lenin Stadium this season, winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Miroslav Marković and Denys Dedechko.

A win is a must for either side and although SKA are travelling 6140km to Moscow for the game, they have just had a fortnight off, with very few of their players involved internationally – only Giorgi Navalovski and Ruslan Koryan for Georgia and Armenia respectively – so the pair could be considered almost on an equal footing considering Dinamo’s miserable confidence at the moment. Ismail Ediyev is suspended after picking up too many cautions and will miss the game, while Vladislav Nikiforov is doubtful after coming off near the end of the victory over Rostov. Dinamo, meanwhile, will be without the aforementioned Panchenko along with key midfielder Samba Sow. Central defender Vladimir Rykov is doubtful, having been out injured since mid-September.

SKA have only scored more than once in a game on three occasions this season, meanwhile, Dinamo has scored only one goal in their last six games, and not at all in their last five. In addition, both sides have relatively strong defences. Under 2.5 goals is almost nailed on for this fixture.

Betting Advice: €10 on Under 2.5 goals @1.53 at Bet365


Saturday, 14:30 BST: FC Ural – Anzhi Makhachkala

By Andrew Flint (@AndrewMijFlint)

The return of Vadim Skripchenko to the SKB Bank Arena is the headline for this clash, and there is very little going in the favour of the follically-challenged Belarusian manager. No wins in the last five at first glance is poor, but to be fair the last two have both been 2-2 draws against Spartak and Zenit. The fact remains, however, that they leak goals faster than Donald Trump leaks ‘fake news’ accusations; 27 goals conceded in an inherently defensive league is shocking, while they are winless away from home.

Ural is nearing full strength again with key creators Giorgi Chanturia and Eric Bicfalvi firing on all cylinders. Granted, they lost last time out, but it was only the second defeat of their quietly impressive season so far, and they remain unbeaten at home. Uncharacteristically it is their defence that has been central to their progress this season, with only five conceded at home. With Europa League places just a point away and the motivation to get one over on their former manager will be more than enough to inspire them

Betting Advice: €10 on Ural to win to nil @2.75 at Bet365 


Sunday, 12:00 BST: FC Ufa – Lokomotiv Moscow

By Artëm Makarevitch (@AMakarevitch)

After a recent drop in form, Ufa has finally started to pick up points in the league after beating Arsenal Tula and taking a point from CSKA Moscow at the VEB Arena. Although Sergey Semak’s side has generally been hard to break down, their attack can’t seem to cause problems for the opposition. They have only managed to score two or more goals on one occasion this season, back in August. Lokomotiv returns from the international break comfortably in second place, 5 points ahead of Krasnodar. A win for Semin’s side would put the pressure on Zenit, who are just 2 points ahead of the Railroaders.

Lokomotiv Moscow’s attack has been on fire recently. In their last three games, the trio of Eder, Fernandes and Alexey Miranchuk have scored 7 goals, and I think this game will come down to whether or not Ufa can contain them.

Betting advice: €10 on Lokomotiv handicap -1 @4.33 at Bet365


Sunday, 14:30 BST: FC Rostov – Rubin Kazan

By Toke Theilade (@TokeTheilade)

One can call this the Berdyev-derby. It is a game between Kurban Berdyev’s previous club, FC Rostov, and his current club, Rubin Kazan. However, the clubs have more than that in common, as it is also a game between two sides in crisis. Rostov have lost their last three league games, and their last victory was in the middle of August. The picture is similar at Rubin, who have lost their last four games.

After a promising start to the season, it seems that the summer firesale has suddenly hit Rostov hard, and the squad seems completely without confidence at the moment. To make things even worse, Rostov recently lost midfielder Artur Yusupov to an injury while captain Alexandru Gatçan is suspended.

Rubin is yet to experience the expected boost by Berdyev’s comeback to the club. Their last four games have been lost 1-0, and the club clearly lacks a decent striker. The sale of Jonathas on the last day of the transfer window has turned out to be catastrophic, and it is tough to be optimistic on Rubin’s behalf at the moment.

The Tatars are furthermore without  Maxime Lestienne, who was recently arrested in Belgium, while key players Oleg Kuzmin and Ruslan Kambolov are both doubtful.

Betting Advice: €10 on draw @3.00 at bet365


Sunday, 17:00 BST: Zenit St. Petersburg – Arsenal Tula

By Artëm Makarevitch (@AMakarevitch)

After returning from the international break, the mood in the Zenit camp will be fantastic, as Leandro Parades, Emiliano Rigoni, and Branislav Ivanovic all managed to qualify for next year’s World Cup with their respective countries, and Andrei Lunev made his debut for the Russian national team.

Despite these achievements, there is no time for complacency. Zenit will be hoping they can push on and continue the form that has placed them first in the RFPL table after 12 rounds.

Miodrag Bozovic’s side has managed to pick up 7 points in their last 5 RFPL games, beating Krasnodar at home in their last match. They will, however, be without Luka Djordjevic for this match, as the Montenegrin is on loan from Zenit. Arsenal’s away form in 2017 has been far from impressive. They have picked up just 4 points on the road this year, and without their top scorer, their chances of adding to their tally this week are very slim.

Betting Advice: €10 on Zenit to win 2-0 @6.00 at Bet365


Monday, 15:30 BST: Amkar Perm – FC Tosno

By Andrew Flint (@AndrewMijFlint)

Quite how Gadzhi Gadzhiev has managed to stage a reversal of fortunes on such a grand scale is remarkable; after being completely written off after the first four rounds of the season, they have slowly but surely put together the type of solid, uncompromising performances we have come to associate with them over the last few years. Five wins in the last six in all competitions has shot them up to mid-table respectability, having been rooted to the foot of the table not long ago. Four consecutive clean sheets in league and cup game is a throwback to their form a few months ago.

Tosno now boasts a new Russian international in striker Anton Zabalotny, while on-loan full-back Yevgeny Chernov was called up too for the game against South Korea and Iran. Like Amkar they have lost just once in their last five competitive matches, but they have lost the last two away from home. A win would guarantee them to jump out of the relegation play-off places, but they’ll have to face the stubborn practicality of Amkar’s newly-confident defence.

Betting Advice: €10 on Amkar to win to nil @3.00 at Bet365


RFN Total: +€515.94

James Nickels: +€124.5 (hit rate: 13/25, 52%) 

Vincent Tanguy: +€119.65 (hit rate: 13/35, 37%)

David Sansun: +€100.45 (hit rate: 19/52, 36%)

Thomas Giles: +€97.6 (hit rate 22/41, 53%)

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

Ben Clark: +€41 (hit rate: 12/38, 32%)

Andrew Flint: +€38.9 (hit rate: 18/60, 30%)

Toke Theilade: +€37.89 (hit rate: 14/38, 37%)

Artëm Markarevitch: +€36.9 (hit rate: 7/18, 38%)

Lukas Müller: +€27.75 (hit rate: 5/15, 33%)

Will Baumgardner +€26.8 (hit rate: 2/2, 100%)

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

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

Martin Lowe: -€54.4 (hit rate: 5/16, 31%)

Ilya Sokolov: -€113.9 (hit rate: 13/46, 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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