RFPL Weekly Preview Round 24

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 from placing 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 12.30 GMT Krylia Sovetov – Rubin Kazan

By David Sansun (@RFN_David) 

The Volga Derby or Volzhskoe Derby. Perhaps the biggest non inter-city derby in all of Russia, which is contested by Krylia Sovetov and Rubin Kazan. Separated by a five hour drive and 350km, in England, this is the equivalent distance between London and Manchester, nothing like a derby, but in the RFPL terms, this is almost as close as you can get without being in the same city.

Rubin Kazan are faltering under Javi Gracia

Rubin’s post winter form has been poor, and Spanish manager Javi Gracia has attracted a lot of criticism, as well as some of the well paid players. Only one win after the break, and a disheartening draw to lowly Tom Tomsk a couple of weeks back has dashed any hopes of sneaking a European place, and they now find themselves maybe flirting with the idea of a relegation playoff, just eight points behind them – even closer if they lose this game to Krylia, who occupy 13th currently.

Scandals involving well paid Yann M’Vila, Alex Song and Maxime Lestienne have left the club open to attack, and the performances on the pitch, marred by two missed penalties which resulted in a loss in the cup semi final and the draw against Tom Tomsk, have not been much better. The lack of playmaker Ruben Rochina, who starred in the first half of the season, has been vital, and Maksim Kanunnikov’s injury while on national team duty has not helped either, with youngsters Rifat Zhemaletdinov and Ilzat Akhmetov being relied on for the meantime, though the latter has impressed.

Many Rubin fans still want Gracia to be trusted, they want to get to the summer window and rebuild, casting out the players who they identify as passengers, such as Song and Lestienne, though both their performances have improved drastically in recent weeks, and so they are willing to just sit out the rest of the season, knowing nothing will come of it, and hold on to any minor victories they can take in the meantime, such as this Volga Derby.

Krylia are dealing well with the loss of Mollo

Many predicted Krylia would slump without French winger Yohan Mollo, who joined Zenit in February, but their form over the last month has improved, losing only once in a tight 2-1 loss to CSKA, and winning last week agains Anzhi. This can be attributed to Italian Christan Pasquato, who has scored two and assisted one in his last three games. If the Juventus loanee can keep it up, he will be a danger against Rubin and could even help them stave off relegation.

The reverse fixture saw Rubin brush aside Krylia with relative ease in Autumn, winning 3-0 with goals from Jonathas, Kanunnikov and Rochina, in what many described as potential turning point for Rubin, but they were unable to build on it. Krylia have not won the Volga derby for almost four years, and have been relegated and promoted since then. It might well be their best chance to win it in a long time this weekend, and if they can take it, Rubin’s season could go from bad to worse.

Possible lineups

Rubin (4-4-2): Ryzhikov – Bauer, Burlak, Sanchez, Nabiullin – Song, Kambolov, Akhmetov, Tkachuk – Lestienne, Jonathas.

Krylia (5-4-1): Loria – Yatchenko, Bateau, Nadson, Bozhin, Zotov – Pasquato, Bashkirov, Mijailovic, Zuev – Kornilenko

Betting advice: Rubin’s home form is good, both the overall form for both sides is shaky. A draw or Krylia win would be the most likely, but if Rochina is back, Rubin could create something of a shock.

€10 on a draw @2.87 at Bet365

Friday 15:00 GMT FC Ufa – CSKA Moscow

By Artëm Markarevitch (@AMarkarevitch)

Although CSKA have drawn their two previous league games, they found themselves climb into second place in the table, sitting just one point ahead of Zenit. Ufa, on the other hand, have had a relatively hard run of games in the last month, resulting in them only registering one win in their last five RPFL matches. Sergey Semak’s side are currently in 7th place, five points off the Europa League spots.

This game is important for both teams, as CSKA will look to stay ahead of Zenit in their race for Champions League football, and Ufa will try to turn their results around, as well as stay in contention for the Europa League.

The main team news for this match comes from CSKA, who’s manager, Viktor Goncharenko, has confirmed that Alan Dzagoev has been training with the squad and will be able to play in the match on Friday.

Betting Advice: 10 on CSKA Moscow to win and under 2.5 goals @3.00 at Bet365

Saturday 12:00 GMT Zenit St. Petersburg – FC Ural

By Artëm Markarevitch (@AMarkarevitch)

Last week’s loss to league leaders Spartak Moscow means that Zenit are now 11 points behind their rivals, and effectively out of the title race. As pressure begins to pile on their manager, Mircea Lucescu, Zenit will need to start winning consistently if they are to reach next year’s Champions League, and there is no better time to do it than in this historic game. This Saturday will be Zenit’s first match at their new Krestovsky stadium, and this will surely motivate the players to provide their best performance.

This task is easier said than done. Ural have been on fire since their return from the winter break, having won all but one game from the 8 they have played. Their winter signing, Vladimir Ilyin, has been on fine form recently, scoring three and assisting one in his last four games for the club.

Betting Advice: 10 on Victor Giuliano to score first and Zenit to win 2-0 @11.00 at Bet365

Saturday 14:30 GMT FC Rostov – Spartak Moscow

By Martin Lowe (@PlasticPitch)

Victory over previously their stiffest competition in the RFPL title race Zenit last weekend, has to many underlined Spartak Moscow as champions elect. Aleksandr Samedov’s late winner has sent the Red-Whites ten points clear of city rivals CSKA (who they incidentally play next week) with seven games to go, and there’s little evidence that they’ll crawl across the winning line.

They travel to a Rostov side who have incredibly drawn their last five RFPL matches 0-0, a far cry from the form they showed in front of goal in their 6-0 rout over Tom Tomsk which greeted their domestic football return in March. Viktor Goncharov will point to some tough encounters amongst those five; away to Lokomotiv and CSKA, and home to Krasnodar and Terek are hardly poor results in isolation, however the lack of a cutting edge has probably curtailed a push for Europe this season.

Season’s gone by, this would be perfectly primed for a Kurban Berdyev tactical masterclass to outwit the soon to be champions. But with Rostov’s season defining point (their excellent European campaign) having been and gone and with Spartak in red hot form, a home result is unfavourable.

Betting advice: €10 on Spartak to win or draw @1.40 at Bet365

Saturday 14:30 GMT Lokomotiv Moscow – Amkar Perm

By Jack Beresford (@JackBeresford86)

The Railwaymen know only a win will do against Amkar as they continue the chase for European qualification but with the visitors just a point off, it could prove an equal match on the pitch.

Amkar held Lokomotiv to a 0-0 draw when the teams met earlier this season and could struggle to find the net against the hosts, who have kept clean sheets in each of their last four competitive games.

But with little value on offer in backing another Moscow shut-out, the man to watch could be midfielder Manuel Fernandes. The Portuguese midfielder has rediscovered his scoring touch of late with goals in two of his last three appearances for Lokomotiv.

The former Everton man looks the great pick to find the net against an Amkar side that has conceded in each of their last four Russian Premier League games.

Betting Advice: €10 on Manuel Fernandes to score anytime @ 5.00 at Bet365

Saturday 17:00 GMT Terek Grozny – Anzhi Makhachkala

By Martin Lowe (@PlasticPitch)

Anzhi and consistency don’t exactly go hand in hand, that is unless the RFPL started a Apertura/Clausura style league structure. Over their last two campaigns in the Russian top flight, Anzhi have been pretty dreadful until the second half of the season, putting together a Sunderland-esc escape plan in the final run in (ultimately too late to be successful in 13/14, but late and great in 15/16, escaping relegation from bottom spot going into the final day).

This year the complete opposite has surfaced, dropping from a promising top half position pre-winter break to a relegation dogfight. Last weekend’s defeat to Krylia, who currently occupy the last relegation playoff spot, has dragged them within four points of said opponents, with little form on paper suggesting that they can reverse the slide anytime soon.

Travelling to Grozny this weekend may be a blessing, given the hosts have also petered out of late after a promising fall campaign. Rather than crashing spectacularly like Anzhi, Terek have plateaued to probably what everyone expected from them, a top half side, but still lacking that extra little bit of quality to push for Europe. Their fizzling out season was encapsulated by their conceding of the last minute winner to Orenburg last time out, who in effect just had more to play for in the final embers..

Neither side’s defence screams reliability, Terek have only kept one clean sheet since November, that being against Rostov, who evidentially can’t score against anyone these days.

Betting advice: €10 on both teams to score @2.20 at Bet365

Sunday 10:00 GMT Tom Tomsk – FC Orenburg

By David Sansun (@RFN_David)

I don’t imagine many people will be up for this game at 10am on Sunday, but it’s a relegation clash which can’t be ignored. With the bottom 4, maybe 5, clubs looking pretty cut off at the bottom of the table, and both these teams inside that group, every point is needed. Tom, rock bottom and facing difficulties after their squad cuts look doomed, though they have held their own following heavy defeats to Rostov and CSKA. Orenburg meanwhile have looked decent post winter despite losing three of their last four, ending that streak with a win over Terek last weekend, and so even away at Tomsk, they should be confident of winning.

Betting advice: €10 on Orenburg to win @1.33 at Bet365

Sunday 15:00 GMT FC Krasnodar – Arsenal Tula

By Jack Beresford (@JackBeresford86)

FC Krasnodar got back to winning ways with a hard-fought 1-0 win away at Rubin Kazan last time out but should have an easier time of things against an Arsenal Tula team second-bottom in the Russian Premier League and on a run of three defeats in their last four league fixtures.

Ilya Maksimov will be absent once again for the visitors, who will have painful memories of their last visit to Krasnodar stadium, which ended in a 3-0 league defeat. After four draws on the bounce at home, Krasnodar will also know only an emphatic win will do against a side fighting relegation.

If they can score twice at home against top-of-the-table Spartak, then Tula should pose few problems even without the injured Tornike Okriashvili.

Betting Advice: €10 on Over 2.5 goals and both teams not to score @3.75 at Bet365

RFN Total: +€390.09

Vincent Tanguy: +€185.15 (hit rate: 10/23) 

Thomas Giles: +€113 (hit rate 20/35) 

Ben Clark: +€101 (hit rate: 12/32) 

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

Andrew Flint: €78.7 (hit rate: 14/45) 

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

James Nickels: €12.3 (hit rate: 3/6) 

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

Danny Armstrong: -€8 (hit rate: 2/6)

Martin Lowe: -€30 (hit rate: 0/4 – 0 %)

Toke Theilade: -€18.11 (hit rate: 6/16) 

Artëm Markarevitch: -€25.6 (hit rate: 1/4)

Lukas Müller: -€40 (hit rate: 0/4) 

Ilya Sokolov: -€55.9 (hit rate: 9/36)

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.


  1. hi i would like to know how rubin compares to grozny, tula to sovetov and amkar to kransdor. thanks. my email is fortuzon@gmail.com

Leave a Reply