Russian Football Premier League Week 30: Betting Advice and Previews


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 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 13:00 BST CSKA Moscow – Anzhi Makhachkala

By Andrew Flint (@AndrewMijFlint)

The dynamics of this match are fascinating as both sides have enormous amounts riding on the result but for wildly contrasting reasons. CSKA and Zenit have traded haymakers like punchdrunk heavyweights in the battle for the precious second place and passage to Champions League riches, with the Muscovites one point ahead coming into the final round. Unlike Anzhi – and a number of other sides – the permutations for the Army Men are simple; match Zenit’s result, and they will dine at Europe’s top table. Their visitors, however, are fighting for their survival.

The Road to Europe

CSKA have soldiered on with a relatively threadbare squad this campaign – not to mention the change in manager with Leonid Slutsky being replaced by his former assistant Viktor Goncharenko – to somehow end up in pole position to resume their place in the promised land of the UEFA Champions League. Their playing system, which for years has had the foundation of a flat back four with Vasiliy Berezutskiy, Sergey Ignashevich and Igor Akinfeev as the keys, has been updated to the more modern three-man defence.

The lack of alternatives to that defensive group has been a concern for some time, but now Goncharenko has brought through Viktor Vasin as at least a short-term option. In truth they have been found out against mediocre European opponents, so if Evgeniy Giner has any ambitions to make headway in the group stages investment will be needed. Whether this comes or not, the revamped tactical set up has altered the responsibilities of the rest of the team, especially playmaker Alan Dzagoev.

Is CSKA’s midfield becoming too one dimensional?

The Beslan-born schemer has long suffered injury problems, and comes into this game with question marks over the durability of his hamstring, but he has also been asked to perform a more withdrawn role that has curtailed his license to roam forward picking killer passes for his forwards. One beneficiary in recent games, however, has been young starlet Fyodor Chalov. With two strikers now commonly selected, he has been picked to offer a more clinical and lively option to Alexey Ionov and Aaron Olanare, and has responded well by scoring twice last weekend.

The lengthy ban of Roman Eremenko was a hammer blow to CSKA’s hopes as it robbed them of one of their most experienced and creative talents, and in doing so heaped even more pressure on Dzagoev’s shoulders. Alexander Golovin has also had to accept a variety of jobs in the middle of the park, leaving him with a disappointing return of just three goals in 29 league appearances. When Dzagoev and Golovin are on form with freedom to create and score, they can be devastating; the problem is this happens too rarely.

Pressure mounting on Anzhi

Aleksandr Grigoryan’s bizarre dress sense and terse comments in interviews has given off the impression that the new Anzhi boss is feeling the pressure, and results have hardly helped his cause. One win in nine has dragged them to within one place and two points of the drop zone as many of RFN’s writers predicted in the winter break. Only Krylya can overtake them, and only by beating Terek, but if Vadim Skripchenko’s men can do that, even a draw from Anzhi would not be enough as their head to head record would put them below the Samara outfit.

Expected Lineups:

CSKA (3-5-2): Akinfeev – Vasin, V. Berezutskiy, Ignashevich – Fernandes, Natcho, Golovin, Dzagoev, Schennikov – Chalov, Vitinho

Anzhi (4-5-1): Yurchenko – Parshivlyuk, Phibel, Zhirov, Musalov – Tetrashvili, Guliev, Katsaev, Khubulov, Saeed – Asildarov

Betting Advice: €10 on CSKA to win to nil @1.66 at Bet365

Sunday 13:00 BST: FC Orenburg – FC Rostov

By James Nickels (@JamesNickels)

This is one of the games to watch for the last game week of the season. Orenburg had victory snatched away midweek through a 94th minute equaliser against Ufa, after Vadim Afonin had himself put the hosts ahead in the 91st. As such, Orenburg will either have to get a result, or hope Arsenal Tula lose to avoid automatic relegation to the FNL. It’ll be a tough task, with their opponents a strong Rostov team, pushing for European qualification who have lost only one game in thirteen in the league.

Georgi Gabulov is still out for Orenburg, having not played at all this season due to a long-term meniscus problem in his knee. Joining him on the side-lines is Mikhail Kerzhakov with another knee injury himself, missing his eighth game in a row.

Rostov will be without their own respective long-term injury absentees; Sozlan Dzhanaev – who has now not played at all during the Clausura – allowing for the great form of Nikita Medvedev and Vladimir Granat who fractured his collarbone during the first leg of the Europa League tie with Manchester United.

Rostov, high on form and fighting for the Europa League spots will likely be too strong for Orenburg, despite their strong home record. Rostov have the best defensive record in the division, and their strikers have started scoring goals again. Dmitri Poloz has scored three in five, Sardar Azmoun three in three, and Aleksandr Bukharov has accrued five goals and one assist this spring.

Betting Advice: €10 on 0-1 Rostov correct score @6.00 at Bet365

Sunday 13:00 GMT: Arsenal Tula – Spartak Moscow

By James Nickels (@JamesNickels)

Arsenal Tula must win this game to stay in the RFPL. They must hope for a win at home against the recently crowned champions, and hope that Orenburg do not win at home to Rostov. Spartak will likely change their team, giving youngsters and those on the fringes much needed playing time, but this is still a Massimo Carrera side, and will not rest on their laurels just yet.

Roman Izotov will be missing for Arsenal, due to a long-term head injury. However, it is unlikely he will be missed after not appearing this season, having featured on the bench just twice.

Massimo Carrera will likely shift his pack again, but not due to injury. Only Evgeny Makeev will miss out due to a metatarsal fracture in his hand, he hasn’t played since the 2-1 win over Rubin Kazan in the last game before the winter break.

If Arsenal do manage to defeat Spartak, and Orenburg draw, Arsenal will move out of the relegation play-offs. Although their goal difference is much inferior (-25 compared to -13), however in the RFPL the parameters for deciding two teams level on points is carried out is the number of wins, and as such Arsenal will be on seven, compared to Orenburg’s six. This is very unlikely; Spartak are a very strong side and Carrera will not allow for any complacency.

Betting Advice: €10 on Draw at HT, Draw at FT @5.50 at Bet365

Sunday 13:00 BST: FC Ufa – Ural Ekaterinburg

By Andrew Flint (@AndrewMijFlint)

Ufa have meandered between patches of good and bad form their season, but the main point coming into the least game of the season is that they are safely ensconced in mid-table obscurity with nothing to play for. Europe was never really a realistic option for Sergey Semak’s side, who have only managed one clean sheet in their last nine matches, but nor has relegation ever been on the cards. Two wins in their last ten games has hardly been reassuring form, but those wins both came in the last two home fixtures, where they have won five of the last eight.

Ural are in a spin as they crash disastrously from what had promised to be a hugely encouraging spring season into a last-day relegation battle. Admittedly they are in the strongest position of those sides who could potentially be drawn into the drop zone, but it is some comedown from the buzz off their first ever Russian Cup final and five consecutive home wins to no wins in seven in all competitions. They have conceded 14 goals in the last six league matches – the highest number in the league – and will be without Dzhemal Tabidze through injury.

These games involve more than just form, however. Ural will be desperate to secure their Premier League status, and they know that the odds are in their favour, as all they have to do to guarantee survival is match Anzhi’s result. Seeing as the Dagestanis are facing Champions League-chasing CSKA away, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Orenburg cannot overhaul them despite being only three points behind, as Ural have two more wins; once side are level on points, the next deciding factor is number of wins.

Betting Advice: €10 on Draw HT/Draw FT @4.50 at Bet365

Sunday 13:00 BST: Krylia Sovetov – Terek Grozny

By David Sansun (@RFN_David)

On the last day of the season, this game is perhaps one of the most influential at both ends of the table. Krylia Sovetov’s win in midweek, with all their opponents around them dropping points, will be a huge mental boost going into the final day, lifting them clear of the automatic relegation spots – for now. In order to avoid the playoffs, Krylia would need to win again, while hoping that either Anzhi or Ural lose. To avoid dropping into automatic relegation, Krylia need to avoid defeat, or hope that if they lose, Arsenal Tula do not win their game. With the form of Cristian Pasquato, they’ll be hopeful of getting something out of this one. As for Terek, they lost to champions Spartak in midweek to end a 4 game winning streak buoyed by the scoring form of Ablaye Mbengue, and threatening their hopes of a Europa League spot. However, they can still grab 4th place with a win today, but only if Rostov lose and Krasnodar draw or lose. With all to play for, this should hopefully be an exciting match with plenty of goals.

€10 on over 2.5 goals @2.08 at Bet365

Sunday 13:00 GMT Amkar – Rubin Kazan

By David Sansun (@RFN_David)

This mid table game has nothing really to offer in excitement. With the team in 10th hosting 9th, equal on points, and neither able to move anywhere other than 9th or 10th. Amkar have struggled this spring, going from potential European contenders to nothing, and have not won in their last 10 matches. Rubin have struggled to find form all season, especially away from home. With nothing to play for but pride, it makes this game hard to predict, especially with the poor form of both, and so I would play safe and go for a draw.

€10 on a draw at 3.10 @Bet365

Sunday 13:00 BST: Lokomotiv Moscow – Zenit St. Petersburg

Zenit need a win and for CSKA to drop points to play in the Champions League next season. This game will also be an exam for Zenit head coach Mircea Lucescu, who must convince his bosses that he should stay for at least one more season. Finishing the season with victories against Lokomotiv and Krasnodar would be a good argument.

As for Lokomotiv, the only thing they can lose is 7th place. Nevertheless, it is difficult to imagine Semin risking it and letting youngsters play in a competitive game — even Igor Cherevchenko was less conservative.

This looks like a tough game for both teams, as the hosts don’t have anything to play for, while the guests have forgotten how to play and are simply awaiting Lucescu’s retirement. Nevertheless, Zenit are favourites simply because they should be more motivated that Lokomotiv.

Lokomotiv will have to do without injured captain Vedran Corluka and suspended midfielder Anton Miranchuk. On top of that, Taras Mykhalyk and Ari are in doubt. For Zenit, Javi Garcia and Artur Yusupov are suspended, while goalkeeper Andrey Lunev is injured.

Betting advice: €10 on Zenit to win 1-0 @7.00 at Bet365

Sunday 13:00 BST: Tom Tomsk – FC Krasnodar

Krasnodar have scored just once in their last four games and managed to get only two points. To save the season they need to win on Sunday, and hope that Rostov lose to Orenburg. Krasnodar are of course firm favourites against Tom who have already been relegated, but they are still without midfielder Tornike Okriashvili and goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk, who are both injured.

Tom have collected just five points in the 12 games this spring, and it is safe to say that in their current condition, they won’t be missed. Despite this however, they have put up a fight, and since April, their biggest defeat was 2-0 to Zenit, so they are hardly a walk-over. Nevertheless, they probably won’t get any points again Krasnodar, but they’ll do their best to make life complicated for the guests and to say a proper goodbye to the top flight.

Betting advice: €10 on under 2.5 goals @2.15 at Bet365

RFN Total: +€343.99 

Vincent Tanguy: +€184.65 (hit rate: 12/27) 

Thomas Giles: +€113 (hit rate 20/35) 

David Sansun: +€101.65 (hit rate: 14/44)

Ben Clark: +€101 (hit rate: 12/32) 

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

Andrew Flint: €38.7 (hit rate: 14/49) 

Lukas Müller: €3 (hit rate: 2/10) 

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

Danny Armstrong: -€8 (hit rate: 2/6)

James Nickels: -€9.7 (hit rate: 6/10) 

Artëm Markarevitch: -€35.6 (hit rate: 3/10)

Martin Lowe: -€38.5 (hit rate: 3/10)

Toke Theilade: -€51.11 (hit rate: 7/21) 

Ilya Sokolov: -€59.4 (hit rate: 10/38) 


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Author: Andrew Flint

I moved out to Russia in 2010 to teach English because it sounded like fun, then I met and fell in love with FC Tyumen (and my wife!) and decided to stay. Surprisingly, I turned out to be the only English person remotely interested in a Siberian third-tier club, but then who wouldn’t fall for a grizzly Georgian midget, a flying Brazilian and Tyumen’s 93rd most influential figure…

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