RFPL Weekly Preview Round 22


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 surround 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: Sunday 14:30 GMT: FC Krasnodar – CSKA Moscow

By Toke Theilade (@TokeTheilade)

Going into the game, both set of fans expects their boys to pull away with the victory. And they both have reason to be optimistic, despite this being a difficult fixture for both teams. Krasnodar are 4th, while CSKA are 2nd, and both teams need a victory. For Krasnodar, victory will help them keep Ufa, Amkar and Terek behind them, while CSKA need it to stay in the fight for the championship.

Two teams in good form

Apart from the Europa League defeat to Celta Vigo, Krasnodar remain unbeaten in 2017, and after a shaky autumn, Igor Shalimov’s men are looking to finish the season strongly. They are eight points behind CSKA and Zenit, so qualifying for the Champions League looks unrealistic, but with a victory on Sunday, they should once again be taken seriously.

Krasnodar’s last two games have ended 0-0, but both of them have been against difficult opponents, FC Ufa and FC Rostov. Before that, they faced Spartak Moscow at home and Lokomotiv Moscow away, but after the game against CSKA, their schedule gets easier. In their last eight games, Zenit are the only quality opponent they face.

CSKA on the other hand, have had a relatively easy start to the spring. With the exception of the opening game at home against Zenit, CSKA have only faced manageable tasks, something that needs to be remembered when evaluating head coach Viktor Goncharenko’s start to the season.

Nevertheless, the Red-Blues have won four games in a row now, after opening with 0-0 against Zenit, but last week’s performance against Krylia Sovetov was less than impressive, and the Army Men were lucky to get away with a victory.

Different injury situations

Last week, Krasnodar top scorer Fyodor Smolov returned after a month on the sidelines. He didn’t do much against Rostov, but his presence means the world, and having another week on the training pitch, he should be ready to make a difference against CSKA. The game against Rostov also saw former CSKA midfielder Pavel Mamaev starting his first game for the Bulls since August, and having Smolov and Mamaev back on the pitch together is excellent news for Krasnodar. Last season, they formed the deadliest duo in the league, with Mamaev contributing ten goals and 13 assists, while Smolov scored 20 and made seven assists.

At CSKA things are unfortunately different. The Army Men will have to do without midfielder Alan Dzagoev. His importance for the club cannot be underestimated, and he has only gotten more important ever since Viktor Goncharenko took over, and introduced his 3-5-2 system, where everything goes through Dzagoev. One of the primary reasons for CSKA’s problems against Krylia last weekend was Dzagoev’s absence.

Possible line-ups: 

Krasnodar (4-2-3-1): Kritsyuk – Petrov, Martynovich, Granqvist, Ramirez – Kaboré, Gazinsky – Mamaev, Pereyra, Claesson – Smolov

CSKA (3-5-2): Akinfeev – Ignashevich, Vasin, V. Berezutsky – Tosic, Natcho, Wernbloom, Golovin, Fernandes – Ionov, Vitinho

Betting advice: The absence of Dzagoev is catastrophic for CSKA, and they are in for a difficult game against Krasnodar, who, on the other hand, are boosted by Mamaev and Smolov’s return.

€10 on Krasnodar to win @2.5 at Bet365

Saturday 12:00 GMT Krylia Sovetov Samara – Amkar Perm

By Martin Lowe (@PlasticPitch)

Despite only one win since the winter break, Amkar Perm somehow remain in the hunt for Europe; going into this week’s match away at Krylia Sovetov they only trail Krasnodar in 4th by three points. Their form has been incredibly stop-start however, beating Zenit and drawing with Terek since the resumption, but losing out to lowly Ural and the once-assumed doomed Tom Tomsk. Crucially both ties were away from Perm, and with another trip to a relegation threatened club coming up, another upset could well be on the cards.

That being said Krylia haven’t returned from winter hibernation in the best possible fashion either, having not picked up a win since December. Adjusting to life without Yohan Mollo is proving to be the crux to their plight, with a tangible negative effect on their output in front of goal; Krylya scored only their first goal of the year in last week’s  2-1 defeat to CSKA. The fact Amkar have yet to either score or concede more than a goal in their last four matches, hardly promises a goal fest either.

Betting advice: €10 under 2.5 goals @1.5 at Bet365

Saturday 14:30 GMT Terek Grozny – Arsenal Tula

By Artëm Makarevitch (@AMakarevitch)

Since their return from the winter break, Terek have seriously struggled. Rashid Rakhimov’s side are yet to register a win this year, their top scorer, Bekim Balaj, has not scored a goal since his brace against Zenit in November, and the team are slowly falling out of contention for the European spots with every week that goes by. If they are to have any chance of securing a place for next year’s Europa league, only a win will be acceptable in this match.

Arsenal Tula, on the other hand, will be looking to pick up any points they can get, so that they can secure a place in the RFPL for next season. Currently sitting in 13th (and in the relegation play-off places), the club are closer to automatic relegation than they are to safety. On top of this, the side have only picked up 3 points away from home this season, scoring just 4 goals in the process.

This is a great chance for both Bekim Balaj and Terek Grozny to bounce back, and I think they will do just that.

Betting advice: 10 on Terek Grozny to win 2-0 and Bekim Balaj to score anytime @9.00 on Bet365

Saturday 17:00 GMT Zenit St. Petersburg – Anzhi Makhachkala

By Martin Lowe (@PlasticPitch)

With last week’s events in St.Petersburg overshadowing the build up, football will undoubtedly come together for Zenit’s first home game since the terrorist attack on Monday.

Focussing on the action on the pitch, opinion has been split on Zenit’s season to date as was discussed on the RFN pod earlier this week. Mircea Lucescu’s arrival hasn’t exactly sparked excitement, yet considering the losses in personnel over the summer, the fact they’re still in contention for a top two finish is far from a let down. Their recent results have picked up also, as they gear up for a tight run in with Spartak and CSKA in the RFPL title race; back to back 2-0 victories sets them up well for a crucial period ahead – they face four of the bottom six over the next five matches, sandwiching next week’s blockbuster with Spartak.

Saturday’s visitors to the Petrovsky are Anzhi, a side who often look more comfortable away from home than they do in Makhachkala. The Dagestani club have won the same amount of matches away from home this season as Zenit, yet the home side have not experienced defeat in St. Petersburg thus far. Of course Anzhi are a completely different prospect, since their winter merry-go-round of players has seen them slip ever closer to yet another relegation dogfight. Last Friday’s home collapse to rivals to avoid the drop Ural leaves them now only 5 points clear of the playoff spots.

Much could depend on both side’s individual in form players; Danny’s return from injury for Zenit has been emphatic, scoring twice in his last two matches, while Alexander Prudnikov has replicated the same feat for Anzhi, already repaying some of the trust put in him since his signing from Orenburg over the winter.

Betting advice: €10 on Danny anytime scorer @2.75 at Bet365

Sunday 12:00 GMT FC Ufa – Spartak Moscow

By Toke Theilade (@TokeTheilade)

After losing twice to Lokomotiv Moscow in just a few days, FC Ufa are now looking to redeem themselves against league leaders Spartak Moscow. On Wednesday, Ufa were sent out of the cup by Lokomotiv, but they are still fighting for European qualification as they are currently 5th in the league, just two points behind FC Krasnodar. Despite the defeats to Lokomotiv, Ufa have started the spring brilliantly, and Sergey Semak is off to a great start in his first head coaching job.

When looking at the results, Spartak are doing perfectly, but their performances are less impressive than earlier this season. Last round, they threw away a 2-0 lead at home against Orenburg, and although they won the game 3-2 after a goal in the 96th minute, the game enforced the view that Spartak’s championship looks less certain than a few weeks ago.

Next week, Spartak face Zenit St. Petersburg in a crucial game, and Ze Luis, Dmitry Kombarov, Fernando and Ilya Kutepov will all miss that game if they get another yellow card.

Betting advice: €10 on Ufa to win @4.33 at Bet365

Sunday 17:00 GMT Lokomotiv Moscow – FC Rostov

By Lukas Müller (@LukasMullerDK)

Lokomotiv come into this game in great form. They sent stubborn Ufa out of the Russian Cup semifinals midweek, and having only lost one out of six games this spring, they look like a team that could challenge for the European spots despite their poor autumn.

Rostov on the other hand are out of the cup, and need to step up in the league if they want to get access to European football next season. Since their spring opener against Tom Tomsk at home, Rostov have struggled offensively, and they haven’t scored since the 1-1 game at home against Manchester United in the beginning of March. Since then, they have played four games. Their last three league games, against Terek, Krylia and Krasnodar, all finished 0-0, and Rostov need to start winning, otherwise they could get stuck in the middle.

Betting advice: €10 on Over 2.5 goals @2.70 at Bet365

Over 2.5 goals odds 2.70

Monday 13:00 GMT Tom Tomsk – Rubin Kazan

By Lukas Müller (@LukasMullerDK)

Following Tom Tomsk’s highly surprising victory against Amkar two weeks ago, reality returned last weekend, when they lost 3-0 to fellow relegation competitors Arsenal Tula. There is really no sign of the Siberian outfit being able to avoid the direct relegation spot they currently occupy considering the chaos at the club.

Just like Tom, Rubin Kazan are also going through a crisis right now. Earlier this week, they were sent out of the cup by FC Ural, and considering their current form, qualifying for European football next season looks tricky at best. The seat is understandably heating up under head coach Javi Gracia.

Now Rubin face a trip to Tomsk where they’ll meet Tom, who are by far, the worst team in the league, but with Rubin’s poor form in mind, and after seeing Tom pull of a win at home against Amkar, this isn’t exactly as one-sided as it seems.

Betting advice: Jonathas to score anytime @1.95 at Bet365

Monday 15:30 GMT FC Ural – FC Orenburg

By Artëm Makarevitch (@AMakarevitch)

After overcoming Rubin Kazan in the Russian Cup semi-final, FC Ural face up against FC Orenburg. The side from Ekaterinburg are unbeaten in four games at home since their return from the winter break and will be looking to continue this form as they drift further away from the relegation zone. There could be a big setback for the side, though, as their January signing, Eric Bicfalvi, limped off the pitch in the game against Rubin, and may not play.

FC Orenburg are sitting down in 14th place, and level on points with Krylya Sovetov, who are a place below them. Their last game was a 3-2 loss to league leaders Spartak, in a game that saw them come back from a 2-0 deficit, only then to concede a 96th minute goal from Quincy Promes. If they can put up a fight like they did in that game, this could be a very tough one to predict.

Betting advice: 10 on Ural to win or draw @1.44 on Bet365


RFN Total: +€342.69

Vincent Tanguy: +€205.15 (hit rate: 10/21)

Thomas Giles: +€113 (hit rate 20/35) 

Ben Clark: +€101 (hit rate: 12/32) 

David Sansun: +€83.25 (hit rate: 11/40)

Jack Beresford: +€45.7 (hit rate 3/8) 

Andrew Flint: €23.1 (hit rate: 12/43)

Toke Theilade: +€1.89 (hit rate: 6/14) 

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

Danny Armstrong: -€8 (hit rate: 2/6)

Martin Lowe: -€10 (hit rate: 0/2 – 0 %)

James Nickels: -€26 (hit rate: 1/4)

Artëm Markarevitch: -€20 (hit rate: 0/2)

Lukas Müller: -€20 (hit rate: 0/2) 

Ilya Sokolov: -€109.4 (hit rate: 7/34)

Toke Møller Theilade

Author: Toke Møller Theilade

Brøndby supporter, groundhopper and more importantly Editor-in-Chief at Russianfootballnews.com. As a hopeless romantic, I still believe Fyodor Smolov and Viktoria Lopyreva has a future together.

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