Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 22

Last Week: 0/3 Winning Bets = 30

Overall Success Rate: 2 out of 9 bets won

OVERALL PROFIT: +£42.10

It’s a game of the narrowest margins: an inch or two can be the difference between losing all three bets or being hailed a visionary, and last week’s results sheet doesn’t look pretty, but it was oh so close… Now I’ve made my bed by promising a treble every week, I will have to lie in it, but last round saw Terek fail to beat Ural at home and Dinamo somehow squeeze only their second away win out of a trip to Bashkiria. In hindsight – that horribly inevitable consequence of losing bets – Terek against Ural could have been treated with more suspicion after the hullabaloo surrounding the last two fixtures with match-fixing allegations, but the form book lied to me.

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Jamie Vardy – will he ever stop having a party?

In case you missed it last week, I also started an international betting tips series, which began well by calling Russia to win and over 2.5 goals against Lithuania, and threatened to explode with my best ever call with England v Germany. I went for what I thought was a wildly optimistic draw at half time, England to win at full time, but as it turns out I wasn’t ambitious enough! By the letter of the law it goes down as a lost bet, but calling England to win away to the world champions in a friendly?? Anyway, no time to wallow in self pity, time to roll up my sleeves and deliver some solid tips for this coming week. This time, I really can guarantee some solid returns, as the value in the markets this week is excellent. I would try and spin you some April Fool’s tale about having received inside information relating to some results, but I have a terrible poker face. Even from the other side of a keyboard. Here we go, let’s get back into winning ways.

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Bet 1 Saturday 2 April, Ural v Ufa

Handicap -1 on Ural to win, £10 @ 3/10

Potential Return: £40

I will be driving along the delightful motorway to attend this one, so they’d better bloody well do me proud. The last time I attended Ural before the international break they put on a spectacular show to thrash Anzhi 4-2 with Spartak Gogniev bagging a hattrick, and Ufa are the only side to have conceded as many as Anzhi away from home. Goals are surely in this one for the hosts – only Zenit have scored more at home all season – especially as they have an almost fully fit attack, with only Zambian winger Chisamba Lungu and attacking midfielder Alexander Stavpets doubts.

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Chisamba Lungu has explosive pace, but it’s not worth much on he treatment table

Ufa have lost five of their last eight away games by at least two goals, and haven’t scored more than once since their opening weekend against Spartak. In that run, they have only scored five goals in total, and their top goalscorer all season, Sylvester Igboun, only has three. The bottom five in the league table are separated by four points, and with Ufa sandwiched right in the middle of that mêlée they can hardly relax and produce free-flowing attacking football, even if they were capable of it. The cherry on the cake would be if former Arsenal and Wolves midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong came through the mixed zone – then I could chat about Russian testicles…

Bet 2 Saturday 2 April & Sunday 3 April

Treble on Ural to beat Ufa, Terek to beat Anzhi, Zenit to beat CSKA, £10 @ 21/5

Potential Return: £52

Ok, ok, I know it might be putting two of my three eggs in one basket by including an Ural victory in two bets, but the value is ridiculous 23/20 for that result alone. Ufa are not as much of a lost cause as Anzhi, but since early October they have been without their influential captain in midfield, Azamat Zaseev, and Emmanuel Frimpong has been a disappointing since arriving last summer. Terek to beat Anzhi is the nap of the weekend without a shadow of a doubt, and the fierce rivalry between the Dagestanis and the Chechens will only intensify the atmosphere further.

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With this man in your side, you’ve always got a chance

The biggest match of the weekend, however, is easily Zenit against CSKA in St Petersburg. The two most expensively-assembled teams clash with three of the league’s top four scorers on show, but the momentum is with Zenit. Yes, CSKA won their last RPL fixture against Kuban, but that was hardly an accurate barometer, as before that win they had only managed three goals in their previous six league games. Zenit, meanwhile, have scored six in their last two games and have the unquantifiable brilliance of Hulk.

Bet 3 Monday 4 April, Dinamo v Krasnodar

Draw, £10 @ 21/10

Potential Return: £31

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Stanislav Dragun is a real gem of the Russian League

Dinamo have been quietly impressive since the winter break without really pulling up many trees, thanks in no small part to their sensible recruitment and continued faith in their youth players who have won he Russian youth championship the last two years running. Fatos Beciraj looks an aggressive handful with more energy than Pavel Pogrebnyak, but Stanislav Dragun is the finest signing of them all; he is a class above most other holding midfielders in the league, and is able to control play calmly but effectively, and his nous will make Krasnodar’s life that bit more difficult.

The Bulls are a quality outfit, but due to the compact nature of the business end of the league table, they find hems elves right down in 7th place and will be concerned about slipping any further if they wish tot keep their ambitions of European qualification alive. They have scored 12 in their last five away matches, but only scraped a narrow 1-0 win over Mordovia last time on the road, and with the added pressure of the team‘s above will be happy to avoid defeat.

Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 21

Last Week: 2/3 winning bets = +£112.10

Overall Success Rate: 2 out of 6 bets won

OVERALL TOTAL: +£72.10

Get in! That’s much more like it; after a rocky start I’m already £82.10 in profit overall after two of last week’s bets came in. If I was being really cheeky, I could claim a bonus point for calling the next goalscorer on twitter in Ural v Anzhi (Bernard Berisha for the record – never heard of him? You mean you DON’T know every Kosovan winger around??). It would have been three out of three if Igor Denisov’s injury time dipping rocket had dipped an inch or so lower instead of smacking off the bar, so I could almost claim a moral clean sweep.

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“The Good Doctor”, as Jeff Stelling clalled him – Kenny Deuchar, the nearest thing to a sure thing bettors ever had

For the time being however I will be satisfied with just the two bets netting me over £100 between them. In the entirely predictable world of the Russian Premier League, those rare nuggets of reliable odds are like gold dust, so I will do my best to unearth those unseen gems of betting consistency. We won’t be talking of “Gretna to win, Kenny Deuchar to score first” proportions – ah, those glorious days of a Scottish nailed-on treble of Celtic, Rangers and Gretna… However, keep your chin up, follow me, and I’m sure we‘ll find the elusive pot of gold. Guaranteed.*

*not in any way, shape or form guaranteed.

P.s. This week I am on betting advice duty at Russian Football News, so head over there for a look at more tips for this week.

Bet 1    Saturday 19 March

Treble on Ufa to Draw with Dinamo, Terek to beat Ural, CSKA to beat Kuban, £10 @ 4.92/1

Potential Return £59.20

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Emmanuel Frimpong has had a rocky start to his career in Russia – so logically he grabbed some balls to help himself settle in. Erm…

I’ll hold my hands up, I’ve caught the treble bug. After last week’s success, I have decided to go for a Saturday special covering all three games, with Ufa first up to draw with Dinamo. Outside the community of Russian Premier League aficionados, Ufa will be a name that conjures up precisely nothing to the casual observer, other than being the home of former Arsenal midfielder and testicle grabber Emmanuel Frimpong. They are in fact a very capable outfit, despite limping along on paper in the relegation playoff places. In Oleksandr Zinchenko they have an electric winger who creates chances out of nothing, and they’ve only conceded 12 at home this season, fewer than third placed Spartak. Dinamo meanwhile are incapable of finishing off matches, having won once since August and only once away all season.

Terek are my tip for European qualification this season. They have a ludicrously well drilled defence under Rashid Rakhimov which has only let in seven at home where they are unbeaten, whereas entertaining as they are, Ural have conceded the second highest number of goals in the league. My heart says Ural after their stirring 4-2 win last week, but my head says Terek. CSKA to beat Kuban is not quite as foregone a conclusion as it would have been a few months ago, but they still have too much to offer going forward, while Kuban are still battling to get out of the relegation places.

Bet 2    Sunday 20 March, Krylia v Zenit

Over 4.5 total goals £10 @ 6/1

Potential Returns: £70

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Hulk – would you mess with this man?

After the spring season’s first weekend which saw the season’s lowest league-wide tally of eleven goals, everybody seems to have shaken off the winter rust, in particular Zenit. Last week’s match against Rubin showed that they are far from infallible, but the sheer volume of chances they create from all angles means they are nailed on to win this one. Six goals were in the Rubin match, and while home advantage accounted for some of their confidence, Rubin are a much stronger proposition than Krylia. The hosts haven‘t scored in their last five at home, a run stretching back to the middle of September, but they can now boast the lively Gianni Bruno as well as the fully fit Yoann Mollo, so will aways be potentially ready to threaten.

It was tempting to go for over 5.5 goals at the huge price of 16/1, but 6/1 for over 4.5 still offers an excellent return. The worrying statistic is Zenit’s winless run away from home now standing at six matches, or since August, but they have a whole new momentum and a much improved squad – already the strongest in the league – which is also free of the distraction of European competition. The assumption is that Zenit will win comfortably, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Krylia contributed to the scoreline.

Bet 3    Sunday 20 March, Rubin v Mordovia

Rubin to win & Over 2.5 goals, £10 @ 9/4

Potential Return: £32.50

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The brand spanking new Kazan Arena hosts Rubin v Mordovia, and hopefully over 2.5 goals…

This one is like stealing candy from a baby. Ok, I might look very stupid if it remains a low scoring affair, but I have to have at least one safe bet as a back up and this one is fantastic value. Mordovia are a terrible side in deep, deep trouble; bottom of the table, no wins away from home, the only club not make any winter signings while two key players left. The only ray of light is that they have a respectable defensive record (12 conceded in nine away games) for a side in their position, but statistics won’t count for much on a different surface at the Kazan Arena.

Rubin were enterprising against the champions Zenit last week despite falling to a 4-2 defeat, especially as Marko Devic returned and instantly sparked the attack into life. They’ve won four of their last six at home, where six out of this season’s nine games have produced three or more goals. My gut tells me there will be more than three, but for the sake of building a profit I have decided to keep it to only over 2.5. The value is fantastic though, and this is my nap of the week.

Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 20

Well that went well…

In my first betting tips post last week, all three of my suggestions went south, leaving me with the princely sum of -£30. In my defence, it was the lowest scoring gameweek of the season, with only 11 goals across the eight fixtures, despite many of the most potent attacks strengthened and some of the most pourous defences weakened. Take Spartak, for example: losing Serdar Tasci to Bayern Munich on loan meant Vladimir Granat had to step in, and although he is still a decent centre back, he has barely played his season after joining from Dinamo. Add Lorenzo Melgarejo to the league’s top scorer in Quincy Promes and the potential for goals at both ends was there, but a tight 1-0 defeat to CSKA was the result.

As for my specific tips themselves, Roman Shirokov failed to score in that game despite playing as the attacking central midfielder. Picking goalscorers is always a tough prediction, so failing to hit that one is hardly a disgrace. Zenit to win away at Krasnodar was influenced by the champions’ strong transfer market dealings, but in hindsight could have been adjusted to a draw as Krasnodar, despite their poor show in in the Europa League knockout stages against Sparta Prague, could at least point to not having had competitive practice all winter as a reason for their inglorious exit from continental competition. Ural v Dinamo was one of only three matches to produce two goals, but my tip was for over 1.5 goals in the first half only; both were after the break.

Without further ado, here are this week’s sure fire winners. Ahem…

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Bet 1 Friday 11 March & Saturday 12 March

Treble on Kuban to beat Krylia, Ural to beat Anzhi, Spartak to beat Amkar, £10 @ 6.46/1

Potential Return: £64.60

A good old fashioned treble is a good way for me to make some ground back on last week’s losses, and I think there is some amazing value in the odds that bet365.com are offering. This is the best part of Russian football betting – there is value if you look hard enough,  because the statistics alone seem to dictate the odds, much in the same way that the fellow who made millions from betting on Scottish football lower league’s used a touch of nous and bookies’ overly analytical approach to pricing teams years ago.

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Will play for crisps – Arshavin’s career has been in decline for a while, now he is no longer a burden to Kuban

Kuban are low down he league table, in the automatic relegation places to be precise, but they no longer have the Gary Lineker (bear with me on this one…) of Russian football hanging over them for one thing. Andrey Arshavin has decided to develop his dwindling career in Kazakhstan after only 6 months in the green and yellow of Kuban, and instead a raft of interesting buys like former Dortmund defender Felipe Santana and Apodi  (lightning quick Brazilian fullback) have boosted them somewhat. Ural have likewise reinforced, perhaps not quite as strongly as they would have liked, but still in Alexander Ryzyantsev they have experience and In Dmitry Korobov they have potentially unearthed a lower league diamond. Anzhi are inconsistent away from home with only two sides conceding more on their travels, so it should be a steal at 23/20 for that individual result. Spartak now have the top two goalscorers in the league in Lorenzo Melgarejo and Quincy Promes, facing a team that have scored the second lowest tally in the league, and only Rubin have lost more on the road. Win this one, and I’m back in the black…

Bet 2 Sunday 13 March, Zenit v Rubin

Over 3.5 total goals £10 @ 11/4

Potential Return: £37.50

Simply put, Zenit = goals. They are the top scorers at home with 19, and in total with 34, not to mention the fact that they’ll be hurting from their cruel Champions league exit to Benfica. Alexander Kokorin has a good chance of starting his first match for his new club, and with Hulk fit anything could happen. Rubin have a terrible away record on paper, and while this is mostly down to their early season catastrophe, they played two new signings in defence last week in Andriy Pylyavsky and Emil Bergstrom so could be susceptible again. Granted, they kept a clean sheet against Kuban, but that was at home; Zenit away is a whole different ball game.

Bet 3 Monday 14 March, Dinamo v Terek

Score draw £10 @ 9/2

Potential Return: £55

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Me with the Novouralsk Supporters Club – very knowledgeable chaps on English football

When I watched Dinamo against Ural on Monday in Ekaterinburg, they played an extremely attacking formation with two out and out strikers in Pavel Pogrebnyak and impressive new boy Fatos Beqiraj, with Alexander Tashaev and Alexey Ionov pushing right up to make a virtual 4-2-4. If they show similar intent at home against a notoriously defensive travelling outfit in Terek – who have drawn 6 of ten away matches, and have a dead level goals ratio of 11 for and 11 against – they stand a good chance of breaching their backline. While the visitors are serious European contenders, Dinamo have the very real incentive of an impending relegation battle to spur them on, but they have failed to score more than two at home in over a year.

Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Matchday 19

Remember Dennis Bergkamp’s sensational spinning goal against Newcastle about 15 years ago? The one where he made Nikos Dabizas look a little bit silly and himself a little bit special? I do, but not fondly. Much as he was a sublime player, the Dutchman cost me £345 by defying the laws of physics that day and screwing up my first ever bet, a 10-way accumulator. I couldn’t believe it was so easy to (almost) win money, and I was instantly hooked to a life violently swinging between drama and disappointment – personal highlights include winning £720 on a double of Manchester United to beat Inter Milan and Barcelona to beat Lyon.

Since moving out to Russia I have closed my online accounts in the name of being a sensible family man, but the bug is still there, so I have decided to start a weekly set of tips where I will give myself a ghost sum each week and keep track of my running total as a substitute. This week there are some cracking fixtures in the Russian Premier League, and I will post my tips for how to make some money from this vast land.

I will give myself £30 each week and see how much of a profit I can turn.

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Bet 1 Saturday 5 March , Krasnodar v Zenit St Petersburg

Zenit to win, Over 2.5 goals £10 @ 10/3

Potential Return: £43.33

Krasnodar are the hipster’s choice: they are owned by Sergey Galitskiy, the boss of Russia’s largest supermarket chain Magnit, who is the Daniel Levy of the RPL. They have moved smartly in the transfer market to snap up Vyacheslav Podberezkin – one of the brightest attacking talents in the country – and Stanislav Kritsyuk on loan as back up in goal. They boast the meanest defence at home, but they are up against the most formidable strike force in Russia.

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England will have to look out for this man, Artyom Dzyuba, in Marseille on 11 June

In Hulk they have russianfootballnews.com’s player of 2015, and in the summer they have added the ‘Russian Harry Kane/Andy Carroll/Peter Crouch’ (depending on your viewpoint) in Artyom Dzyuba. Add Oleg Shatov, a lightning quick former futsal inside forward, Alexander Kokorin and Danny, and it isn’t hard to see why they are the league’s top goalscorers this season. They have only failed to score away from home once since the summer, and while they haven’t won on the road since August they have the momentum of a successful transfer window, a Russian Cup win and impressive European form.

Bet 2 Sunday 6 March, CSKA Moscow v Spartak Moscow

Roman Shirokov to score anytime £10 @ 7/2

Potential Return: £45

The controversial captain of Russia is a character than cannot be ignored. He grew up in CSKA’s youth setup but had trouble with gambling, drinking and authority – he even fabricated a story about a broken arm to party with his friends as as teenager – and developed a reputation as troublemaker. A late developer, he only completed a full top-flight season at the age of 26, but after arriving at Zenit he finally began delivering on his early promise.

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The reformed bad boy of Russian football, Roman Shirokov [photo: pfc-cska.com]

A couple of seasons spent mostly on loan have threatened to tarnish his career legacy, but now he is reunited with his national team boss Leonid Slutskiy (the podgy chap who sways back and forwards on the bench in Champions League games) with the motivation of leading his country against England and Wales at Euro 2016, he is in a perfect place to sign off his career with a bang. A stunning goal and equally impressive pass to help create another in their Russian Cup win over Ufa this week show he is already comfortable in his attacking role ahead of Pontus Wernbloom and Alan Dzagoev.

Bet 3 Monday 7 March, Ural Sverdlovskaya Oblast v Dinamo Moscow

Over 1.5 first half goals £10 @ 12/5

Potential Return: £34

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Ivan Drago. Ok, Pavel Pogrebnyak…

Ural are an odd team to watch. They have been involved in more goals than any other side in the league at home (32 in just 8 matches), and yet their only senior striker is the 35-year-old Spartak Gogniev; their manager at the start of the season, Viktor Goncharenko, is Eastern Europe’s most promising young manager, but was sacked after a betting scandal and only one win in the first seven matches. His assistant then won five of the next seven matches to take them to the brink of the European places.

 

They have conceded in the first half in four of their last five home games, and with Dinamo having reinforced reasonably well given the FFP restrictions that have hit them hard this season, I expect the visitors to start strongly. They finished the autumn in dreadful disarray with only three goals on their travels since the beginning of August, but with the promising but relatively unknown Fatos Beqiraj up front they no longer rely on Reading reject Pavel Pogrebnyak for goals.

 

*All odds are taken from bet365.com

Tyumen Musings Part 14: Prison, Tea and Studying

Monday mornings are never fun, but when you go back to school every week at the age of 30 it’s even worse. I should play fair; I am actually supposed to do this – I am a teacher after all. But there is something about classrooms that will remind us all of being trapped in a space where we must obey a direct figure of authority. How good did the bell at the end of the school day feel? And what was the overriding emotion? For most of us it was surely of relief, of escape.

Which is ironic, given the history of my current school. Some of you may have seen that video of a Russian road “eating itself” that was featured on the Top Gear website two years ago – that happenned a few hundred metres from our company’s front door – or heard about a block of flats that partially exploded after a faulty gas leak. Yep, that was our road again. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that on Kharkovskaya Street in Tyumen there is an intriguing history; our building is only about 20 years old, but previously it was actually a prison.

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Just a simple teabag, you might think: but in the Soviet Union, it became a valuable form of currency…

Now there stands a slightly incongruous collection of older blocks of flats, newer developments and children’s playgrounds, but in the 1970s it housed some minor offenders. Viktor* (I’m doing the whole not-his-real-name thing for a few reasons) is a successful businessman in his late 50s who used to live directly across the road as a child, and he revealed the real history of our establishment to me one day. “My older brother and I used to live on the third floor, and we could just about see over the wall from our bedroom window,” he told me. “All the inmates were put to work in a small factory producing red bricks and roof tiles, but in their free time they used to get high from concentrated tea leaves. What we used to do was throw tea bags over the wall, and they would tell us stories about their life inside and how they would ‘use’ the tea in large quantities – it was too risky to smuggle cigarettes, although some risked it.”

Be honest – at this point,you’re probably reading this thinking ‘Siberia during the Soviet Union + prison = gulag’; this is a sensitive issue, and can be quite offensive to lump all forms of forced manual labour into that bracket. The horrific camps that Josef Stalin set up across the vast abyss of tundra and forest that make up large swathes of this part of modern day Russia were a different beast entirely – this particular type of prison was built in cities (in this case, it was near the outskirts back then, but is now considered to be almost in the centre) and housed thieves and vandals, not murderers, rapists and political enemies.

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Siberian gulags were horrific camps where millions were sent during the Soviet Union’s earlier years, and they remain a taboo topic today

Young Viktor and his brother would throw their stash of teabags over the wall, and would sometimes receive gifts handcrafted by the inmates in return. The workshops inside the prison had equipment for all kinds of construction, and with access to certain materials, the prisoners could fashion the most remarkable objects. “This pen probably weighs about half a kilo,” he said as he handed me what looked like a tiny rocket. “My brother had to send cigarettes over the wall for this one, something he could have got in more trouble for than for teabags!” It was beautiful. It was a normal biro except for the casing, which was thick brass that had been smoothly rounded, and had clearly not been damaged in almost half a century.

When I see my teenage students trudge into the classroom with their Dr Dr Beats headphones clamped to their ears and the eyes glued to their iPhone 6S, their complaints of slave labour at school make me chuckle and think of Viktor and his ‘friends’ across the road. What I will say is that they do seem to have a huge workload compared to what I remember having; the attitude seems to be to force them to do the maximum possible so that they are trained to accept long hours. At University, I had 11 weekly contact hours, some of which I lazily failed to attend, whereas here students regularly work virtually full time jobs before studying in the evening up to 30 hours a week.

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This young boy might as well be one of my students with the amount of homework they have. Well that’s what they tell me…

In the city of Tyumen, which is the capital of the most oil – rich region in Russia, there is a burgeoning demand for English language learning, and we have by far the largest collection of native speaking teachers. It is the major advantage, as people will lap up the social cache of saying they have a native teacher. I might just be lucky, but I find about 95% of my students to be engaging characters and dedicated language learners. There are some who have been pushed to attend by their company, or children whose parents are obsessed with injecting their them with knowledge, but it is an enjoyable environment in which to teach.

I admit when I first arrived, there was a difference in the attitude towards what constituted a decent level of English between then and now. One night out with a lot of friends, I found myself sitting next to a University professor of English Language, but the problem was that Regina was utterly incomprehensible – my two year old daughter could have made herself better understood.

Of course a fair quantity of beer was partly to blame for her broken speech, but I was shocked that she was teaching higher education students my native tongue. Even in six years, however, I have sensed a real shift towards higher standards in English learning. Now my students are actively looking for international exams for better job opportunities or even visas to live abroad, and it is heartening to see when this comes fruition.

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My future Russian teachers Dasha & Sophia…

One day my girls will start school, and they will walk through the gates nervously as they face a fairly driven, intimidating atmosphere. I will be more nervous than them without question, but at least I can be safe in the knowledge that for all the drawbacks of being a foreign parent, I have given them one sizeable leg up: English. They can pay me back by letting me try their Russian homework, although I’m not sure much I’ll be able to do. Russians study their own language for 10 years and still debate how to use it as grown adults, so what hope do I have??