Ural v Zenit

Glamour. Prestige. Quality. These are all words that you would most definitely not associate with a Russian Premier League clash between Ural and Zenit, but it has its own charms. Trust me…

Welcome! After the roaring success of my live coverage of the last two Tyumen matches, I’m bringing a taste of the big time to these pages. Bear with me if updates slow a little – temperatures have dipped below zero and WiFi is capricious beast here at the SKB Bank Arena – but I will bring you the latest with some videos, pictures, live comments and hopefully some exclusive pictures and comment from players post match.

16.16 Fontanello harshly penalised for an accidental handball on the edge of the box…

16.11  Artyom Dzyuba outmuscles Denis Kulakov at the back post, but his looping header sails harmlessly over. A mild warning shot.

16.07  Roman Pavlyuchenko looks to be playing as more of a lone striker, but he was involved well in Ural’s first decent attack. A well-timed layoff to Giorgi Chanturia set up a counter but it came to nothing as Criscito scampered back to cover.


15.56  Minutes from kickoff here, and the sun has just crept out from behind the clouds. A portent of things to come?… Ok let’s rattle through the team news:

URAL (4-4-2)

Nikolai Zabalotniy; Denis Kulakov, Pablo Fontanello, Radovan Pankov, Alexander Dantsev; Roman Emelyanov, Artem Fidler, Sergey Podoksenov, Giorgi Chanturia; Chisamba Lungu, Roman Pavlyuchenko

ZENIT (4-2-3-1)

Yuriy Lodygin; Alexander Anyukov, Luis Neto, Nicolas Lombaerts, Dominico Criscito; Javi Garcia, Axel Witsel; Giuliano, Shatov, Alexander Kokorin; Dzyuba

15.36  After a five and a half hour drive, I’ve finally made it to the warm safety of the press room. Team news coming any minute (they’re reprinting the sheets after putting Anzhi as the title of Zenit’s lineup…)

*LIVE* FC Tyumen 1-1 Sokol Saratov

17.56  FULL TIME: Tyumen 1-1 Sokol.

In the end, a fairly turgid affair ends all square, although Tyumen shaded the best chances and will be gutted to let those three points slip. Andy McNab; “I got in for free, but I still feel ripped off.” Oh well, not everyone can have a 13-year-old Dembele to entertain. Until next time, see you then!

17.53  Into injury time, and Tyumen  are still pushing. Klenkin hits a very ambitious effort from a direct free kick 30 yards out, keeper collects comfortably after a bounce in front of him. Three minutes of added time…

17.50  GOAL! Disaster for Tyumen… Kamalutdin Akhmedov can only watch on as his stretched leg diverts a dangerous cross into his own net to draw the score level. Agonising to concede so late in a tight game. Tyumen 1-1 Sokol, 3 minutes to go.

17.46  Ryabokobylenko is on as a substitute – comes highly recommended by @vostok1981. A couple of ok passes so far.

17.41  Ten minutes left, cramp might start playing a part – genuine or tactical – and Sokol haven’t shown a thing for a while. Which probably means they’ll strike… Four on three counter sparked by Mamtov’s brilliant turn, but Pavelnko’s ball to Klenkin is left for Mamtov, with the defence able to clear easily. Trying to be a bit too clever there Klenkin.

17.38  Sokol’s players are getting frustrated by the referee’s decisions, and they may have a point, so the man in pink (very manly pink) books the latest player to voice his disagreement.

17.33  GOAL!!!! Ivan Chudin flicks in Pavlenko’s deep free kick, sneaks in the bottom corner. Finally a breakthrough, and with only 20 minutes left it could be crucial.


Tyumen players celebrate the opening goal from Ivan Chudin

17.28  Two penalty appeals, one at either end; first Mamtov turns his marker on the due of the box and is tripped inside, but nothing given to the captain’s frustration. A few minutes later, Big Blonde Lad is taken out but is harshly booked for diving. Hang on, free kick to Tyumen…

17.24  Excitement! We have some excitement! The best chance of the game falls to Chukanov after Klenkin intelligently waits for the right ball, feeds the youngster, and after some brilliant footwork in tight space he hits a firm effort from around the penalty spot, but the keeper was equal to it.

17.15  Much like the first half, the second has started with the opposite of a bang – a whimper more like. The faintest of whiffs of a hint of a chance as the big lad (no programs left, sorry again) holds off Guz before theatrically falling into Tyumen’s centre back. It’s one of those “I’ve seen them given”, despite being correctly waved away this time.

Expert analysis time. Johnny McKenna, South West of Ireland Russian Football Expert: “I’m very glad the first half is over.” Andrew McNab, President of the Tyumen Celtic Supporters Club* (sort of): “I don’t want to be associated with this match.” Right, if that doesn’t whet your appetite for the second half, I don’t know what will…


L-R: Your host Andrew Flint, President of the Tyumen Celtic Supporters Club Andrew McNab, South West of Ireland Russian Football Expert Johnny McKenna

HALF TIME: Tyumen 0-0 Sokol.

Ok, I lied, it’s not been a classic… As with many matches at this level at this time of year, the opening quarter of an hour was entirely forgettable, and aside from some late heart-stopping flashes of danger from Sokol neither goal has been greatly troubled. Pavlenko has been strangely quiet out wide for Tyumen, and the lack of his pace and direct dribbling has been sorely missed. If any, Pavel Shakuro and Andrea Chukanov have been bright performers in periods, but a lot more is required from Andrey Ivchenko and his men after the break.


Not exactly a packed stadium for today

16.46  Like all classic bouts, the challengers is getting a second wind. Sokol’s number ten meets a dangerous cross on the half volley six yards out but spurns it wide of the post. Visitors definitely finishing the half on the front foot.

16.39  Hopeful shot drifts wide from Sokol right winger (apologies, haven’t got hold of a program yet, Sokol names hopefully in second half…); moments later the big blonde lad up front breaks forward in a two on two counter, cuts inside Guz with a smart turn of pace and curls an agonising effort a whisker wide. Two more chances for the visitors…

16.32  First sighting from Sokol down the right flank saw some neat triangles engineer a 3 on 2, and although it broke down under good pressure from Dmitry Guz it was a timely reminder that for all the pressure Tyumen are steadily building they can’t rest easy. Moments later Pavel Shakuro is hounded by his opposite man, but after some decent support from Pavlenko and Ivan Chudin, a deft flick from Danil Klenkin sets off a counter. Ran out of steam though.

16.24  Alexey Pustozerov gets to the byline but his cutback to Mamtov is cut out. Not a golden chance but yet another half glimmer for Tyumen.

16.20  Ooo Andrey Shlyapkin, what a mazy dribble! Tyumen’s right back dances across the Sokol defence (if you’d seen him play you’d realise how momentous an occasion that is…) and his shot is deflected wide. Andrey Pavlenko skins his marker from the corner, but danger cleared. Slowly building pressure.

16.17  Andrea Chukanov is looking lively on the left flank, getting stuck into his defensive duties with gusto despite being a slight little fella. Half Russian half Italian former Lokomotiv Moscow youth product you know…

16.14  Well not much to report from the first ten minutes here I’m afraid. Khasan Mamtov’s turn and blocked shot is about the closest we’ve come to any danger, which doesn’t bode well. Still early days though.

Welcome back my loyal readers – here we are at the Geolog Stadium for an absolute cracker of a FNL lower-mid table slugfest. He hosts are sitting pretty in 10th place, but Sokol are only just above the relegation zone. Strap yourselves in, here we go…

LIVE: FC Tyumen 2-0 Kuban Krasnodar

Welcome to the first ever live blog of FC Tyumen – due to technical issues* (shocking WiFi) we are a bit delayed, but let’s dive straight in…

FULL TIME: Tyumen 2-0 Kuban Krasnodar. Khasan Mamtov slotted a decisive penalty with just over ten minutes remaining to deservedly settle a tight game in favour of Tyumen to consign Kuban to their fifth defeat of the FNL season. Dan Petrescu’s absence from the visitor’s bench left the visitors unable to prevent another demoralising result, before Danil Klenkin’s wonder goal sealed the points with the last touch of the game.

20:38 – MAMTOV!!! No way was that a penalty, but Tyumen won’t care – the home skipper dusts himself off after going down under minimal pressure while running it across the edge of the box, simple penalty to put Tyumen in front. 1-0, now just seven minutes left.

20:29 – Spartak Gogniev is on for the visitors, the former Ural striker. Mamtov meanwhile tries a ludicrous bicycle kick but is snuffed out. Lobkarev again bursts clear of his markers, and a sloppy attempted clearance by Alexey Shlyapkin is redeemed by the referee’s whistle. Still 0-0 with 20 minutes remaining.

20:19 – “There’s no point knocking it into the box every time, Kuban are winning every header in the box,” says Johnny McKenna. Igor Armas and Azat Bayryev are towering above all comers, and as if to prove the point a lovely move on the ground slips in Mamtov, but his shot is just saved…

20:08 – They’re back out for the second half. Oyewole Moses has a powerful effort deflected behind, but corner is cleared.


HALF TIME: FC Tyumen 0-0 Kuban Krasnodar

Well first off apologies for the delay in getting up and running – theGeolog Stadium may well be the best stadium in Siberia with a brand new artificial surface imported from the Netherlands, but the Internet connectivity is shite. Anyways, the home side have been well on top so far with pacy winger Andrey Pavlenko the main danger. Georgiy Zotov, who gained some top flight experience last season, has found no answer to shackling Tyumen’s no.7.

No clear sight of Dan Petrescu yet as the Romanian manager is serving a touchline ban, but he may have walked past with a clipboard. We’ll confirm soon.

Irish Tyumen expert Johnny McKenna: “Tyumen are on top, but Kuban don’t look like a club that were in the top flight last season, nor like one that will be next year.” With seven draws in 13 matches before tonight, he may have a point…


19:39 – Tyumen’s midfield trio of Danil Klenkin, Ivan Cruden and Alexey Pustozerov are passing their way past Oyewole Moses, who looks so lost out there. Chudin shoots from distance, easily saved.


19:31 – Pavlenko again the danger man, his time twisting and turning Azat Bayryev inside out but slicing his shot well wide. Vladimir Lobkarev is about the only Kuban player offering some threat for Dan Petrescu’s side, but his pace is often wasted.

19:27 – MAMTOV! Oh what a save from Evgeniy Frolov, denying the Tyumen captain’s stab at goal from 12 yards. Lovely movement from the hosts.

19:21 – It’s all Tyumen at the moment, this time it’s Amkar Perm trialists Danil Klenkin is felled out wide. Pavlenko bends it in, headed behind for a corner.

19:17 – Penalty?!? No! Andrey Pavlenko bursts into the box after burning his defender, clan through before he’s hacked down in the box, but the referee somehow waves it away. Crowd not happy…

The Greatest City in the World – Part One: Lovers’ Bridge, Limousines & A Champagne Reception *VIDEO*

Ok, I’ll admit it – I love Periscope. I’ve only just discovered this app, but after trying miserably to use it yesterday in Ekaterinburg I have worked out how to record videos and broadcast them to whoever might be watching. It’s a fascinating concept, and one I plan to exploit by broadcasting a series of videos around my home city of Tyumen, so stay tuned for more episodes.

Ever since I arrived in Russia, and specifically this wonderful city, the place and people have been mesmerising. To then see the lazy negative stereotypes that bring a bad name to them saddens and frustrates me, so in my own small way I will fight back by showing you my side of life as An Englishman In Siberia…

In this broadcast, I introduce Lovers’ Bridge and tell the story of how I got into a limousine with five strangers and drank vodka, champagne and cocktails for five hours while singing karaoke. It was mental, but in my mind was a perfect example of all that’s best in Russian people. I hope you enjoy it, and keep your eyes peeled for Part Two: Geolog Stadium



Places of Tyumen: Lovers’ Bridge and the River Tura Promenade


Performances can draw crowds of up to 2,000 to the river. Here, ninety teenage couples danced a waltz to commemorate the first schoolchildren to be sent to war 75 years ago

Without question this is the city’s most spectacular spot. No matter whether it is the middle of winter with river frozen over or a lazy summer evening, it is guaranteed to offer breathtaking views, and this is mostly thanks to the substantial investment the city government has made in the riverside promenade.

When I arrived in Tyumen six and a half years ago, there was virtually nowhere comfortable or convenient on the banks of the river for people to walk freely, but slowly the steep inclines were dug up, relaid with grass, bushes and trees, and the immaculate walkways that now traverse the slope began to take shape. The work is still not completely finished, but it is already a stunning spot that has developed a character of its own.


There’s even Tyumen’s very own ‘Hollywood’ sign – half way up the slope in blue

Not content with simply installing a straight path following the course of the River Tura, the designs included multiple levels that each offer a different pace of their own. Right by the water’s edge, the wide ledge by the water’s edge is often occupied by couples taking pictures or dangling their legs, while the main pathway behind them is popular with skaters, skateboarders and cyclists. There is a wall running along the back of the first level that is decorated with freizes and statues of historic moments and people that have shaped the city.

Halfway up the bank mothers push buggies slightly away from the busier lower level as occassional joggers pace their way past, while the highest level is reserved for those who prefer a more leisurely pace, and is often much quieter. There is also a pavement at the very top of the slope which is set back from the street for those who don’t have the time or inclination to make their way down the steps.



Stroll down the promenade at night,  and you are treated to sights like this

At night time in summer, the whole area is abuzz with popup coffee stalls while younger generations play music and an almost bohemian atmosphere takes over. I ventured down at about 10pm with my wife and two daughters aged four and two, and although there were some groups smoking shisha pipes who we avoided, it was a spectacular treat for Sophia and Dasha, especially when we passed an ice cream stall.

Perhaps the most iconic part of the area is Lovers’ Bridge itself. It is a simple pedestrian suspension bridge that is covered in graffiti of declarations of eternal love between partners, and is one of the traditional places for newlyweds to take photographs after their ceremony. It used to have thousands of padlocks attached to the railings with names of lovers inscribed – the tradition was for the man to throw the key in the river after attaching the lock as a sign he was never going to need to remove it, and therefore remain ever faithful.

Unfortunately, the local government decided to remove the padlocks a few years ago. Nevertheless no visit to Tyumen is complete without a casual stroll along the river from Lovers’ Bridge.

BBC News Live TV Interview: Russian Hooligans

After all the worldwide media coverage of the violence surrounding the England v Russia match in Marseille last week, suddenly being An Englishman In Siberia was worth a whole lot more. Thanks to the wonders of modern online technology, within the space of a few hours I had been invited on to BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC News channel to discuss the Russian hooligans.

I might offer my two kopeeks on the events in a later post, but for now, here is my second ever live TV interview; this time though, I wasn’t asked about my underwear


Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 27


Last Week: 0/3 Winning Bets = -£30

Overall Success Rate: 5 out of 21

Overall Profit: £40.10

This week is a shorter edition as we approach the end of the season, but fear not – there are two more gameweeks over the next week or so to make up for last week’s absence of tips. Good times! If you haven’t had a look at the latest RPL table, do – it promises to be the most dramatic at both ends of the league. I’ve decided to ice out some relegation and promotion specials for this round of tips, and there is some serious value to be had.

Without further ado (and also because last week was not a major success…), here are the selections for this weekend.

Bet 1    TREBLE on Krylia to beat Ufa, Kuban to draw with Mordovia and Spartak to beat Dinamo, £10 @ 51/5

Potential Return: £110

Belgian Mexico ’86 World Cup star Frank Vercauteren has finally turned his Krylia’s season around after a dreadful run that had looked like relegating the Samara side, and they have now gone five games unbeaten. Ufa have formed some sort of recovery of their own, but their away form is still awful with three consecutive losses and no wins away from home since August. Kuban would be entertaining to watch for the their off field catastrophes if it weren’t so darkly serious; they will have a new acting head coach for the third match in succession, so will be happy to edge towards safety – or more importantly, to avoid losing ground to direct relegation rivals. Spartak meanwhile have the slimmest chance of European qualification, but they do have a habit of turning it on against their biggest rivals. Dinamo are critically close to the drop, and I can’t see them putting up any meaningful resistance.

Bet 2    Rubin v Krasnodar: Over 2.5 goals, Krasnodar to win, £10 @ 13/5

Potential Return: £36


What a man – how Viktoria Lopyreva left him we will never know…

Ah, my boy Fyodor Smolov… He is just one of those players who you want to see fulfill his potential, and after many years of chronic underachievement despite serious ability, he has finally arrived where he belongs; at the top table. Nine goals in his last five matches speaks for itself, and it is extremely likely he will continue this form his weekend. The best part for his teammates is that they are also chipping in to this phenomenal run they are on. Wanderson has come back from injury gradually but has hinted at his ability that saw him finish as joint-second top goalscorer last season.

Rubin are a perfectly capable side that rarely sit back, but they have had various injury problems in defence to deal with. They have nothing competitive to play for so there won’t be the same urgency for them as for Krasnodar, who have realistic hopes of snatching a Champions League spot.

Bet 3    Amkar v Ural: DRAW HT/FT, £10 @ 15/4

Potential Return: £47.50

The Urals Derby  (don’t laugh – just because Perm and Ekaterinburg are nearly 200 miles apart, it actually makes it one of the closest clashes between different cities) is an unknown rivalry to most casual observers. It is the nearest thing both fans have to a meaningful battle, and if you believe the journalist sitting next to me at the last Ural home match with Tourrette’s, it can get violent.

In terms of both teams, there is more at risk for Amkar as they currently sit just 3 points above the relegation playoff zone, although there are too many teams struggling below them to realistically worry them. Ural have performed well to secure a mid table finish after escaping via the playoffs last season, but have the sole motivation of getting one over on their rivals. Classic tense derby material.

Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 25

Last Week:  0/3 Winning Bets = -£30

Overall Success Rate: 5 out of 18 Bets

Overall Profit: £70.10


Dasha and Sophia playing last weekend, and all predictions going well – what could go wrong?…

Last weekend started so well… Friday’s match between Mordovia v Amkar was the equivalent of an old-school clash between a Sam Allardyce Bolton and a Tony Pulis Stoke on paper, with all the promise of a drying wall of paint in terms of excitement, but for me it was a tense battle of nerves as the draw I had predicted emerged from the quagmire. Then Saturday saw all three further Russian Premier League matches go the way I had predicted on the Hong Kong Jockey Club website (yes, before you start sniggering at the back Russian football IS big among Hong Kong bettors – along with A League, Tippeligaen and the Championship…).

Sunday morning was even better, as the bright sunshine bathed Siberia, or my little part of it at least, in glorious warmth as my daughters dribbled a football around the square showing as much control as their father, if not more. It was the sort of moment that would make you feel rather smug if it was at someone else’s expense. And then came Gazovik Orenburg and Rubin Kazan. Both messed up my trebles that would have netted me a whopping £172 profit from two tips, but as it is I ended going home with nothing.

This still leaves me £80 up overall, although this week I will have to work twice as hard to get back in profit, so here goes…

Bet 1    TREBLE on Rubin to beat Terek, Krasnodar to beat Ufa and CSKA to beat Dinamo, £10 @ 7/2

Potential Return: £45


Roberto Martínez is not a man to shy away from hyperbole, and this week nor am I with a great treble

Rubin have been steadily building a head of steam to nowhere this spring with indifferent results on paper but quietly impressive form going forward. Emil Bergstrom scored a winner late on away to Ural while helping his defence to keep a clean sheet against one for the league’s highest scorers, and with an almost fully fit squad to choose from they will be well set to take on Terek. At the risk of coming over all Roberto Martínez, the individual odds of 13/10 offer phenomenal value, as Terek perform their traditional slide away from from a promising position with one win in their last four.

Krasnodar and CSKA are much more obvious elements to this bet, as they are the two most potent attacking sides after Zenit, and face two of the lowest scoring outfits around. True, Ufa have staged a comeback of sorts by winning their last two, but they still have the pressure of remaining in the relegation playoff places and face a much sterner task away to Krasnodar. The Moscow derby ought be a tight and tense affair as both the Khimki Arena’s tenants go head to head, but Dinamo are crumbling at a worrying rate, just one point above Ufa and the potential drop zone. CSKA can even point to their powerful Nigerian recruit Aaron Olanare having broken his duck, and will have far too much for their derby rivals.

Bet 2    Spartak v Mordovia: Over 2.5 first half goals, £10 @ 11/2

Potential Return: £65


If Quincy Promes could tear himself away from Artyom Dzyuba’s loving embrace, he could be in for a field day against Mordovia this weekend

Of all matches you could choose, this one has goals written all over it. Quincy Promes is the league’s top goalcscorer with 13 and spearheads the Spartak attack against a managerless Mordovia (well, at least without a permanent manager) at home. A win will give them the faintest of hopes of rejoining the race for European places and perhaps more pertinently will throw Dmitry Alenichev a line to rebuild his standing at the club.  Talk has spread of his position in charge being scrutinised by notoriously ruthless owner Leonid Fedun, and a thing but an eyecatching result here could condemn the former Champions League winner to the sack.

Going for over 2.5 first half goals is a bold call, but after three games without a win, and the hurt of the huge 5-2 defeat to great rivals Zenit last weekend still fresh on their minds, Spartak will be full of determination to get back on track. At the Petrovsky they went 2-1 up within half an hour showing ample ambition and enterprise, and were only undone by a Zenit masterclass/”outside assistance” – depending on who you believe – so don’t be put off by their results on paper. At 11/2 this tip offers a great chance to make a quick buck.

Bet 3    Rostov v Zenit: DRAW HT/DRAW FT £10 @ 7/2

Potential Return: £45


Kurban Berdeyev is a deeply religious man, and may need his faith if the tension gets too much against Zenit

This match is almost certainly going to be a title decider; the only challenge is going to be to see for whose benefit. Rostov and Zenit could hardly be two more contrasting clubs in almost every aspect from their financial clout, history of success and star names to their tactical approach and managerial styles. Let’s start with the stats: Zenit have scored 49 league goals, Rostov just 29. Rostov have conceded just six at home – where they are unbeaten – while Zenit have only kept nine clean sheets. Zenit’s top four goalscorers have scored 31 combined, Rostov’s have managed just 16.

Kurban Berdeyev has been linked with a move back to a revitalised Rubin, where he enjoyed unprecedented success winning two league titles, but for now he has assured everyone that his future lies in Rostov. His opposite number, Andre Villas-Boas, has already announced his departure this summer, but is masterminding a powerful charge towards top spot. The one statistic that tells more stories than any other, however, is found in Rostov’s home defeats column: a big fat zero. The intensity of this match will tell on both sets of players, and I do not expect Zenit to find much joy against Rostov’s mean defence.

Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 24

Last Week: 2/3 Winning Bets = +£36

Overall Success Rate = 5 out of 15 bets

Overall Profit: £100.10


He was a happy man last night – but so was I for predicting the minute of the last goals. Shame only one Irishman was party to my calls…(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

I’m feeling good. Last night, painful as it was to watch Liverpool have a barnstorming night in Europe, I did enjoy predicting – to the minute, no less – both of the crucial last two goals. Again, I didn’t actually place any money on it, but I’m getting better at calling matches. One thing that anyone can predict is that Klopp will get more our of his players than most managers, especially the saggy Dutchman who shall not be named, and I suppose I can’t begrudge the Scousers their night in the sun when they produced such an exhilarating performance.

This week I am also on Russian Football News Betting Advice duty, so for the sake of variety I have a special treat for you – a dip into the world of FNL (Russia’s second tier) trebles. I will even be at the Tyumen – Shinnik match to live tweet for those of you sad enough to take any notice, but there is some amazing value to be found in some of these matches. Last week saw another successful week as I smashed the treble on Zenit, CSKA and Rubin with a collective goal difference of +11 and over 3.5 goals between Krasnodar and Ural (Smolov bagged four himself in a 6-0 romp), bringing in a healthy profit of £36, so you’re catching me at a good time…

Bet 1  Friday 15 April, Saturday 16 April & Monday 18 April

TREBLE on Mordovia to draw with Amkar, Zenit to beat Spartak & Ural to beat Rubin, £10 @ 57/5

Potential Return: £114


Artyom Dzyuba – eating his shirt here – is facing his old club on Saturday, and could have a crucial say in my treble

Let’s not beat around the bush: my trebles are on fire at the moment. Which probably means I’m setting myself up for a spectacular defeat this time, but what the hell – if you can’t enjoy your success, what’s the point? Anyway, there is good value this week as many matches are more closely matched than last week, but Mordovia v Amkar is an intriguing one in my books. Yes, the home side are coming off the back of a 7-1 thrashing,  and yes, their manager left under uncertain circumstances, but they have drawn more than anyone bar Terek and Kuban and are back in Saransk this week. Amkar are terrible scorers, and have won just two on their travels all season, so a point suits both.

The Derby of Two Cities is the glamorous tie of the weekend, with some spectacular attacking talent on show, and with one of the most successful visiting sides in Spartak. Dmitry Kombarov is missing through suspension at left back, which means yet another defensive reshuffle by Dmitry Alenichev is likely, which will play into Hulk and Artyom Dzyuba’s hands perfectly. The best value of the three however is 17/10 for Ural to beat Rubin at home; granted, the visitors are in decent form on the pitch, if not in the results column, but Ural are an explosive outfit at home, winning four of the last six at home and scoring at least three on five occassions. The overall treble returns are impressive; go on, have a punt!

Bet 2  Sunday 17 April

Kuban v Rostov DRAW, £10 @ 11/5

Potential Return: £32


Felipe Santana arrived as club employees were going unpaid – the symbol of a poorly run club. Good player, mind.

Kuban are an odd side; they swing between announcing unpaid salaries for months, then presenting Felipe Santana as their glamorous signing. Oleg Mkrtchyan has announced his withdrawal of financial support so there might be a slight uncertainty in the long term over their ability to bring in quality players, but they caught the eye last weekend by leading 2-1 at half time in Moscow against Spartak, and have begun to edge towards safety with one defeat in the last four matches.

Rostov are perhaps even stranger. A club that survived the relegation playoffs last season has ‘done a Leicester‘ and is threatening to deny powerhouses like CSKA and Zenit the title – check out the Russian Football New podcast where we discuss their fairytale – all built on a foundation of practical defence. Only 28 goals scored all season tells one story, but a league-high 12 clean sheets tells another. away from home they have been quite solid but ultimately unconvincing, drawing 0-0 in their last two away games against Kuban’s direct rivals in the table, Anzhi and Amkar. A straight forward result, and good returns. Hopefully…

Bet 3  Sunday 17 April

TREBLE on Tyumen to beat Shinnik, Gazovik to beat Luch Energiya Vladivostok & Spartak II to beat Torpedo Armarvir, £10 @ 34/5

Potential Return: £78


In my totally unbiased opinion, the Geolog is the greatest stadium in Siberia, where I will be this weekend

This treble offers the best value of the lot in my opinion. There’s not a lot of point going into huge detail on the teams as I’m sure very few of you will have even heard of them, yet alone have a sounds knowledge of their squads and current form. What I will do, however, is assure you that Tyumen are on a great run at home, other than a blip against Arsenal Tula three weeks ago. Why? Because I missed the match of course, but I will be there on Sunday.

Gazovik, meanwhile, have been the clear league leaders for months now, and at 10/11 against Luch Energiya Vladivostok – a club in such dire straits they might not even make it to the end of the season still in existence – it is robbing candy from a baby. Yes, it is a long away trip, but they’ve won their last two matches away and have the league’s top scorer in Artem Delkin. Spartak Moscow II have stormed to within two points of the promotion playoff places, and have a host of supremely talented youngsters, so facing Valeriy Karpin’s relegation zone dwellers should be a simple match. Torpedo began the season failing to score for the first seven games, but have since recovered their form; even still, I can’t see them holding off Evgeniy Bushmanov’s exciting young team.

Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 23

Last Week: 1/3 Winning Bets = +£22

Overall Success Rate: 3 out of 12 Bets Won

Overall Profit: £64.10



The Grand National – that time of year when punters blindly throw money at something they don’t understand. Unlike Russian Premier League football…

Why is it that as soon as I call it a day with online betting I start to build a steady profit from predictions?? It was probably – *probably* – the right decision to cancel my Ladbrokes account a few years ago, but Murphy Law is striking with a vengeance. The good news is of course that for you fine people I am providing decent tips 🙂 Another successful week last time out, with the treble on Ural, Terek and Zenit coming in for an individual win of £52, making an overall gain. Ural were unusually shaky in their win over Ufa, scraping a narrow win which scuppered my first tip on Ural -1 handicap, but I was some way off with Krasnodar’s rampant display to thrash Dinamo in Moscow 4-1.

There are some significant mismatches this weekend, so I’ve had to dig a little deeper to find decent value. With this being the Grand National weekend lots of people will be sticking pins in newspapers to blindly put their money where their mouth has not right in being, so stick with the ever reliable Russian Premier League and you’ll do just fine. Right,  here we go…

Bet 1 Saturday 9 April

TREBLE on CSKA to beat Mordovia, Zenit to beat Amkar and Rubin to beat Dinamo, £10 @ 47/20

Potential Return: £33.50



Andrey Gordeev  has parted company with Mordovia, who ae now bottom of the RPL – but exactly why and for how long is a mystery. *Probably not alien abduction though – sorry…

Ok, ok, CSKA to beat rock-bottom Mordovia at home is hardly a groundbreaking prediction, even less so when one consider Andrey Gordeev resigned/was sacked/went on gardening leave/was abducted by aliens yesterday*, but it serves the purpose of bumping up the treble. I would even say 3/10 is good value given the total mismatch on all levels, while CSKA have the added incentive of regaining top spot from Rostov after the latter’s dull 0-0 draw last night against Anzhi. On paper, Zenit to beat Amkar is a safe bet too, but there are more grounds for double the value in the odds (3/5) in this one, as the hosts have only lost three matches at home in the league all season, and also have a Russian Cup semi final to spur them on in the season finale.

Zenit are hitting their stride now, and after dispatching CSKA last weekend they have shown they have the squad to deal with their strongest rivals. It might not be high scoring, it might not be pretty, but the champions have plenty in their locker and will relish the chance to move within three points of the summit (assuming CSKA complete their formalities against Mordovia). Which leaves Rubin to beat Dinamo; this offers by far the best value in light of their respective current form. Statistics show that Dinamo are stubborn away from home with nobody drawing more on their travels, but they don’t fully take into account their capitulation against Krasnodar, or Rubin’s impressive attacking threat in their Zenit defeat a few weeks back. A nice little earner to kickstart the weekend.

Bet 2 Sunday 10 April, Krasnodar v Ural

Over 3.5 goals, £10 @ 9/4

Potential Return: £32.50



Fyodor Smolov is a colourful character off the pitch, but a bloody good one on it

Krasnodar are actually in much better form on the road than they are in front of their own fans, but when you have Fyodor Smolov in goalscoring form and the thrilling talent of Vyacheslav Podberezkin – just check out his wonder striker against Dinamo – coming through, backed up by the Brazilians of Ari, Wanderson and Joaozinho, the craft of Odil Akhmedov and the vision of Mauricio Pereyra, you will always have a chance to score a hatful.  They have one of the most sensibly-constructed squads in the league, and can now call upon virtually an entirely fit squad.

Ural somehow have been involved in more goals than any other side than Zenit, who ae level on 67 goals for and against in 22 matches. This is mostly down to their defensive record, and more specifically their fullback positions which have given cause for concern. It’s uncertain whether Podberezkin will face is old side, but even though he left a gaping hole Ural filled it with the relatively hidden talents of Dmitry Korobov, and veteran forward Spartak Gogniev has found a new lease of life just when his side have needed it. I expect a home win, but Ural to contribute to the scoreline.

Bet 3 Monday 11 April, Krylia v Lokomotiv

Sergey Kornilenko to score first, Draw final result, £10 @ 30/1

Potential Return: £310



Even Blackpool fans will probably struggle to recall Sergei Kornilenko, but the Belarusian is an efficient target man

I admit that any first goalscorer relies on a slice of luck, and this tip looks as long as the odds, but bear with me on this one. Krylia have the most horrendous home record in front of goal of only four in ten matches this season, and have only just emerged from a barren patch that few clubs in the world could match. Prior to breaking the curse last week against Mordovia, they had scored just three in 13 matches since mid-September, winning once, and have not scored for six straight home matches. So why on earth am I pushing for a goalscoring bet?

Well, it’s quite simple really: when you wait this long to break a hoodoo as painful and lengthy as Krylia’s, the utter release is worth more than the statistics on a page. They will be in front of their own fans in Samara for the first time since the autumn too, which will give them a boost. Krylia really do have some quality attacking players, especially Andre-Pierre Gignac’s cousin Yoann Mollo and Gianni Bruno, with some more than capable front men in former Blackpool hitman Sergey Kornilenko. Adis Jahovic has blown hot and cold this season, and after Kornilenko opened the scoring last week he is a dead cert to start up front against Lokomotiv. The visitors have been on good, if not explosive, form of late, and will respond to going behind, but would probably accept a point away from home to keep on track.