From this spring, we are happy to announce that we have changed the format of the RFN Betting Advice. Instead of only covering a few games, from now on we’ll give you previews to all eight RFPL games each round, with an extensive look at one game, the Game of the Round.
In these previews, we’ll give you everything you need to know about the top flight, from injuries to form as well as all the chaotic aspects that surrounds the beautiful game in Russia.
We have previously proven that we can make serious money by betting on Russian football, so we’ll of course continue to provide you with betting advice for each game. The writer covering the game receives €10 to place on any bet, and we’ll be updating our accounts before each round, meaning there’s full transparency with our winnings and losses.
GAME OF THE ROUND: Saturday 13.30 GMT Lokomotiv Moscow – Spartak Moscow
By Vincent Tanguy (@Spartak_M_VT)
It is once again time for a Moscow Derby. Although the Lokomotiv – Spartak rivalry can’t be compared with the Spartak-CSKA or even Spartak-Dinamo, it is nevertheless a huge game, and a must-win game for both sides. The return to Lokomotiv Stadium should bring back some pleasant memories for Spartak, who won 2-0 the last time the two sides met there, and the victory kicked of a series of four victories in a row, which allowed the Red-Whites to overtake Lokomotiv’s fifth place in the league and qualify for European football this season.
Not like last season
Today, the situation is completely different with 18 points between the two clubs. Spartak are at the top of the table, eight points ahead of Zenit St. Petersburg and CSKA, and it looks more and more realistic that The Diamond Club can win its first championship since 2001. Who would have thought that when Dmitry Alenichev was sacked after the club was eliminated by AEK Larnaca in the 2nd qualifying round of the Europa League?
Since Massimo Carrera took over, Spartak have looked like a different team, and every week they show the spirit of champions. With the exception of a 4-0 defeat in Samara to Krylia Sovetov in December, Spartak have been superior this season.
This winter, Spartak strengthened the squad even further with the arrival of mega star Luiz Adriano as well as promising, young players in Georgiy Dzhikiya, Aleksandr Selikhov and Georgiy Tigiev, and Carrera now have the weapons needed to achieve the club’s ultimate goal: winning the league and ending a 14-year long title drought.
On the other hand, Lokomotiv are in the middle of a transition period. Since the beginning of the season, they have changed president, sports director (twice), head coach and of course players. In the autumn, the results were horrible, and they spent many weeks below the relegation line as they only recorded five victories in total.
Two of these came in December though, and with their victory against Krylya Sovetov in the spring opener, things began looking better for Lokomotiv, who also qualified for the semi-finals of the Russian Cup with a 1-0 victory against FC Tosno.
Lokomotiv were highly active during the winter transfer market, where they signed Ari from FC Krasnodar on loan and Solomon Kverkvelia from Rubin Kazan. Furthermore, they managed to keep offensive midfielder Aleksey Miranchuk at the club. However, they lost key player Aleksandr Samedov to Sunday’s opponent, Spartak.
Neither sides are in perfect shape
Having been eliminated from both the Europa League and the cup, Spartak can focus all their energy on the league, where they are off to a good start. They got a point away against Krasnodar, and last week, they defeated Anzhi Makhachkala 1-0 at home. With an attacking line boasting names like Quincy Promes, Ze Luis, Luiz Adriano, Roman Zobnin and Aleksandr Samedov, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where the Red-Whites doesn’t score. In fact, they most likely have to score as the defence remains weak, despite Carrera’s strengths in this part of the game.
Denis Glushakov and Luiz Adriano, both key players, are doubtful for the game and they have spent this week on individual training programs.
Following the defeat to Krasnodar Monday, the Railwaymen lost important steps in the battle for European qualification, but they are still only six points behind the 4th place, which means they still have everything to play for. They do however have problems ‘killing’ the game, and despite the signing of Kverkvelia, the defence remains shaky, which we also saw against Krasnodar.
Lokomotiv (5-3-2): Guilherme – V.Denisov, Pejcinovic, Corluka, Kverkvelia, Yanbaev – Fernandes, Ignatyev, I.Denisov – Maicon, Ari
Spartak (4-2-3-1) :Rebrov – Kombarov, Kutepov, Tacsi, Mauricio – Fernando, Glushakov – Samedov, Popov, Promes -Luiz Adriano
Betting advice: I expect a good game. The stadium should be packed by fans eager to help their club win this crucial game, and I predict goals. I think we are in for a close game, which will end in a draw. Lokomotiv won’t collapse for the second game in a row, while Spartak, with their gladiator mentality, can be satisfied with a single point in this difficult away game. Therefore, I’ll go with 2-2.
€10 on the game to finish 2-2 @17.00 at Bet365
Friday 16:00 GMT Anzhi Makhachkala – FC Orenburg
By Vincent Tanguy (@Spartak_M_VT)
Anzhi went through a major fire sale this winter, losing the majority of their players, and this has been visible in the results. Since the winter break, Anzhi has lost twice, and the seat is slowly heating up beneath head coach Aleksandr Grigorian. They did play a good game against Spartak though, and especially strikers Aleksandr Prudnikov and Pylyp Budkovsky looked good, although without scoring. Defensively, they contained Spartak for most of the game, but one mistake by Thomas Phibel ruined everything.
Orenburg on the other hand has collected four points in the two games after the winter break, and are quickly moving away from the bottom. They are now just one point behind Ural Yekaterinburg on the crucial 12th place, which grants another season in the RFPL. Orenburg have defeated Arsenal Tula 3-0 and played 0-0 against Rubin Kazan last week. In Mikhail Kerzhakov they have an experienced goalkeeper, and two games in a row without conceding goals is gold for the confidence.
I do however expect the guests to run into problems away against Anzhi, and I have a feeling Prudnikov could punish them.
€10 on Anzhi to win @2.5 at Bet365
Saturday 8:30 GMT Tom Tomsk – Amkar Perm
By Lukas Müller (@LukasMullerDK)
Well, there is not much to say about Tom Tomsk. They will surely relegate as the bottom side. The only question is, when it is definitive. After two tough away games against Rostov (the game was moved from Tomsk to Rostov) and CSKA, with a combined goal score of 0-10, they now face a milder Amkar side at Tom’s own Trud Stadium. It would be one heck of a surprise, considering the fire sale they went through in the winter, but in this match Tom could dream about getting a result.
Amkar showed great fight and, more importantly, stability at the back, when they last week held on to beat Zenit 1-0 in Perm. A result that really puts Amkar in contention for that 4th spot, which would allow access to the Europa League next season. Even though Norwegian striker Chuma Anene has left Amkar for Kairat Almaty after playing a big part in their win over Zenit, Amkar still have a strong enough side to beat this horrible Tom Tomsk side without putting in a top draw performance.
The Trud Stadium pitch will undoubtedly be in a bad shape for this game, since it is a natural grass pitch. But for Amkar that doesn’t matter too much, since they are a very physical team. A striker like Aleksei Gasilin shouldn’t find scoring a goal in this match too hard.
€10 on Aleksei Gasilin goal anytime @2.50 at Bet365
Saturday 11:00 GMT Ural Yekaterinburg – Rubin Kazan
By Ben Clark (@Dinoben_)
Most would have pictured Rubin Kazan further up the table by this point of the season, but their recent upturn in form means they aren’t out of the frame for European qualification via league position. However, with league games dwindling, their away trip to Ural on Saturday is a must-win if they are to retain hope.
On the other hand, Ural are doing enough to avoid slipping into the bottom four but are flirting dangerously close and could find themselves in the bottom two after this round of games (though, that is requiring the three teams below them to win, which is like asking for a winning lottery ticket).
With Rubin having decided on getting all their points at home this season, I’m going to call this game a draw. It’s a point Ural will bite your hand off of for, and seeing Rubin’s away form this season, I can’t see them winning this game.
€10 on Draw @3.10 at Bet365
Sunday 11:00 GMT Krylia Sovetov Samara – FC Rostov
By Ben Clark (@Dinoben_)
For the first time in a few years, Krylia Sovetov Samara probably didn’t want the winter break to arrive. Having picked up seven points from a possible nine in their last three games before the break, they’ve haven’t looked like the same team since coming back. In fact, you could make a case that their team isn’t back and still on it’s winter break.
Rostov can be anything they want to be this season. Their European adventure is over and they show no signs of falling dramatically towards the bottom of the league (though this is Russia, so anything could happen).
I’m going to call for a Rostov win between these two sides. I think with their tour of Europe finished, Rostov will be very keen on securing qualification for Europe next term too. Unless Krylia Sovetov find where their team have been, I can’t see them being awkward hosts on Sunday.
€10 on FC Rostov to win @2.45 at Bet365
Sunday 13:30 GMT Terek Grozny – CSKA Moscow
By Jack Beresford (@JackBeresford86)
You have to go back to September 2013 to find the last time Grozny tasted victory over CSKA with the Moscow club winning five of the six Russian Premier League meetings between the teams since.
Unfortunately, a run of one win in their last six league fixtures suggests a similar outcome could be on the cards for Rashid Rakhimov’s side who will be without Romanian playmaker Gabriel Torje who is out with a back injury.
CSKA, by contrast, come into the fixture having picked up 15 points from the last 21 available in the league.
Alan Dzagoev represents the team’s most in-form attacker, with two goals in his last three games for the club, but it’s CSKA’s rear-guard action that’s the most notable thing about the team, with Viktor Goncharenko’s team racking up six consecutive clean sheets in the league.
€10 on CSKA Moscow to keep a clean sheet @2.37 at Bet365
Sunday 13:30 GMT FC Krasnodar – FC Ufa
By Jack Beresford (@JackBeresford86)
Two second half goals put paid to FC Krasnodar’s Europa League ambitions against Celta Vigo at home this week, but the Byki the opportunity to return to winning ways at the Krasnodar Stadium against Ufa this weekend.
Sergey Galitsky’s team ran out 4-0 winners the last time they played hosts to the Gorozhane in the Russian Football Premier League but won’t have it so easy this time around against a Ufa side that has upset the odds under Sergei Semak this season and come into this fixture off the back of an impressive 1-0 win away at Terek Grozny.
With Fedor Smolov sidelined for the hosts and Krasnodar likely to be suffering from their own post-Europe hangover, a another surprise away win does not look impossible.
Sylvester Igboun has scored in two of Ufa’s last three wins on the road and could prove a handful against a Krasnodar side with one win from their last six.
€10 on Ufa to win @6.00 at Bet365
Sunday 16:30 Zenit St. Petersburg – Arsenal Tula
By Lukas Müller (@LukasMullerDK)
Zenit have now played two whole games without finding the back of the net in the RFPL. The spring opener against CSKA in Moscow showed that Zenit have plenty of quality within the team, but nothing is working when Zenit try to create chances. Against Amkar in Perm, a win looked much more realistic, considering the quality gap between the two teams, but once again a dominant Zenit-side failed to create much going forward, and inevitably Amkar would score the first goal, against the run of play. Zenit failed to bounce back, with their lack of creativity dominating throughout the second half.
Arsenal Tula looked like they could seriously dig their way out of the relegation battle. In the transfer window they brought in big profiles like Vladimir Gabulov, Ivan Ivanov, Alexandru Borceanu and new striker Federico Rasic who scored a brace against Ural.
But when they got teared apart against fellow relegation contenders Orenburg, I lost trust in them. Although they bounced back against Ural, I think they need more time before they show their true potential. Seven winter signings started on the pitch against Ural, and against Zenit with practically the same squad as in the fall, at the Petrovsky Stadium, with a pitch in great condition, the home side should win comfortably. Despite their lack of form, and Lucescu’s job being on the line. But if Lucescu drops points against Arsenal, and Spartak gain an even bigger lead, I believe this could be Lucescu’s last match in charge of Zenit.
€10 on Giuliano to score first @4.00 at Bet365
RFN Total: +€403.49
Vincent Tanguy: +€200.15 (hit rate: 9/20 – 45.45%)
David Sansun: +€103.25 (hit rate: 11/38 – 28.95 %)
Ben Clark: +€121 (hit rate: 12/30 – 40%)
Thomas Giles: +€113 (hit rate 20/35 – 57.14 %)
Jack Beresford: +€42 (hit rate 2/6 – 33.33 %)
Andrew Flint: €14.1 (hit rate: 11/41 – 26.82 %)
Toke Theilade: +€1.89 (hit rate: 6/14 – 42.86 %)
Stefano Conforti: +€0.5 (hit rate: 3/9 – 33.33 %)
Danny Armstrong: -€8 (hit rate: 2/6 – 33.33 %)
Martin Lowe: -€10 (hit rate: 0/2 – 0 %)
James Nickels: -€20 (hit rate: 0/2 – 0 %)
Artëm Markarevitch: -€20 (Hhit rate: 0/2 – 0% %)
Ilya Sokolov: -€136,9 (hit rate: 6/32 – 18.75 %)
Author: Ben Clark
Londoner and Chelsea fan. Follower of Russian football since 2011 and I haven’t got my life back since.