RPL Matchday 22 Preview

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This weekend will see the first RPL matchday to be affected by the emergency limit set on gatherings of people to 5,000 people in Moscow. CSKA Moscow vs FC Ufa will only be attended by 5,000 season ticket holders, while the others unable to attend will have free access to a live stream after an agreement was struck between Match Premier, the Russian Premier Liga and Moscow’s RPL clubs.

The two games selected for English-language commentary on our live YouTube broadcast for paid subscribers this matchday are Zenit St. Petersburg vs Ural Ekaterinburg on Saturday, and FC Rostov vs Lokomotiv Moscow on Sunday. All games will be streamed with Russian-language commentary for paid subscribers with second-level membership on our YouTube channel.

Akhmat Grozny (16) vs (7) Dynamo Moscow

19:30 MSK, Friday 13 March, Akhmat Arena

Matchday 21: Lokomotiv Moscow 1-0 Akhmat//Dynamo Moscow 1-0 FC Tambov

Akhmat Grozny may have only won once in their last nine RPL matches running back to October, but they are proving increasingly hard to beat. Last weekend they were only denied at least a point by Guilherme’s penalty save, while Zenit St. Petersburg only equalised in the last 15 minutes of their Olimp Russian Cup fixture. They have drawn five of their last seven league games.

Nikolay Komlichenko fired Dynamo Moscow back to winning ways last weekend to see them leapfrog FC Ufa back into seventh place. While it was their first win in three RPL matches overall, they have won three of their last four matches on the road. Outside the bottom two, only FC Ufa have scored fewer goals than Dynamo.

Head to head: Five of the last seven meetings have been drawn, including the last four in a row.

FC Orenburg (11) vs (10) Spartak Moscow

14:00 MSK, Saturday 14 March, Gazovik Stadium

Matchday 21: FC Orenburg 2-0 Arsenal Tula//Spartak Moscow 0-1 FC Krasnodar

FC Orenburg have had a mixed week. Last weekend they were comfortable winners against an Arsenal Tula side that had won three on the bounce, but they were trounced 5-1 by then-bottom club FC Sochi midweek in a rearranged fixture. That Arsenal Tula result was their only win in their last four home RPL matches.

Spartak Moscow dropped back into the bottom half of the table following their narrow defeat to FC Krasnodar last weekend. It was their third defeat in their last four RPL games. However, they have only lost once in their last four on the road - a 0-0 draw against Zenit St. Petersburg - keeping three clean sheets in that run.

Head to head: None of the five total meetings have been drawn, with FC Orenburg winning the last two.

Zenit St. Petersburg (1) vs (9) FC Ural Ekaterinburg

16:30 MSK, Saturday 14 March, Gazprom Arena - LIVE English commentary on YouTube

Matchday 21: Zenit St. Petersburg 0-0 FC Ufa//FC Sochi 2-0 Ural Ekaterinburg

After holding a 10-point lead going into the winter break, Zenit St. Petersburg’s lead has been cut to six after a second consecutive goalless draw last weekend, against FC Ufa. The last time they failed to win for the third game in a row was almost exactly two years ago, while they haven’t lost a home RPL fixture since December 2018.

FC Ural offered little threat to FC Sochi last weekend as they went down 2-0. With a postponed Olimp Russian Cup quarter-final to come next week and now only three points separating them from the relegation playoff zone, the pressure is on. They have just one win from their last 10 RPL matches and have conceded more goals than any other side.

Head to head: Zenit have won 12 of the 13 meetings, drawing the other.

Arsenal Tula (6) vs (15) Rubin Kazan

19:00 MSK, Saturday 14 March, Centralniy Stadium

Matchday 21: FC Orenburg 2-0 Arsenal Tula//Rubin Kazan 0-1 Krylia Sovetov Samara

Despite falling to defeat last weekend, Arsenal Tula remain in sixth place and only seven points off Europa League qualification. They have just one home RPL win since August but have not lost to a team outside the top five at home since 2017. They have scored in all but one of their home league fixtures this campaign.

Leonid Slutskiy is still looking for his first goal as Rubin Kazan manager after last weekend’s home defeat to Krylia Sovetov Samara. Worryingly, they have now sunk into the automatic relegation places with the RPL’s lowest goals scored tally of just 11 in 21 matches. Since 2018, they have won just once away from home in the league.

Head to head: Rubin Kazan have never beaten Arsenal Tula away from home in the RPL.

FC Sochi (14) vs (2) FC Krasnodar

14:00 MSK, Sunday 15 March, Fisht Stadium

Matchday 21: FC Sochi 2-0 Ural Ekaterinburg//Spartak Moscow 0-1 FC Krasnodar

In the space of four days FC Sochi have gone from five points adrift at the bottom with no wins in eight games to out of the automatic relegation zone. Last weekend’s win over FC Ural was efficient, but the midweek win over FC Orenburg was destructive. However, those wins were their first since September, and came against the second and joint-third worst away defensive records.

FC Krasnodar now boast an 11-game unbeaten run after edging past a resurgent Spartak Moscow last weekend. Their two wins have closed the gap to just six points behind Zenit St. Petersburg, with the two due to meet in just over a month’s time in Krasnodar. They’ve only lost once since July and are unbeaten in their last four away games.

Head to head: FC Krasnodar won the only meeting last July 3-0/

CSKA Moscow (5) vs (8) FC Ufa

16:30 MSK, Sunday 15 March, VEB Arena

Matchday 21: FC Rostov 3-2 CSKA Moscow//Zenit St. Petersburg 0-0 FC Ufa

It will be a little consolation to CSKA Moscow that they were involved in one of the RPL’s most gripping games this season, as their nine men missed a chance to steal a point with five minutes remaining. They have conceded less than a goal per home game this season and are still only three points off a Champions League playoff place.

FC Ufa heroically held out against leaders Zenit last weekend to claim a precious point and stay in the top half of the table. Impressive as drawing away to the reigning champions was, it was also the eighth time FC Ufa have failed to score in their last 10 away games. Visiting top-five sides, they haven’t scored on the last four occasions.

Head to head: CSKA have never lost to FC Ufa, winning four of the six home games they’ve played.

FC Rostov (3) vs (4) Lokomotiv Moscow

19:00 MSK, Sunday 15 March, Rostov Arena - LIVE English commentary on YouTube

Matchday 21: FC Rostov 3-2 CSKA Moscow//Lokomotiv Moscow 1-0 Akhmat Grozny

Fireworks exploded last weekend in a five-goal thriller that swung in FC Rostov’s favour. Three penalties were given, only one was scored, and two CSKA Moscow players were sent off. FC Rostov are arguably the RPL’s great entertainers as the leading goalscorers but also having conceded more goals than anyone bar FC Orenburg and FC Ural.

Lokomotiv Moscow also made hard work of their game last weekend as Felipe Vizeu was denied from the penalty spot with five minutes remaining by an in-form Guilherme. It was only their second win in their last eight RPL matches. Away from home they haven’t scored in their last two and have won once since last October.

Head to head: Lokomotiv have won four of the last five meetings.

FC Tambov vs Krylia Sovetov Samara

19:30 MSK, Monday 16 March, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Matchday 21: Dynamo Moscow 1-0 FC Tambov//Rubin Kazan 0-1 Krylia Sovetov Samara

Tambov have slipped back into the relegation playoff places after failing to score for the third time in their last four RPL matches last weekend. Only two teams have conceded more goals this season at home.

Krylia Sovetov Samara edged above FC Tambov on head-to-head record after beating Rubin Kazan by a single goal last weekend. It was their first win in eight RPL matches, although they’ve also only lost twice in their last six away matches. Over their last eight away matches, they have scored a respectable 10 goals.

Head to head: The only previous meeting ended 2-0 to Krylia Sovetov earlier this season.


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