Russian football: fixed match in Premier League tomorrow?

Every season in Russia there are matches that seem dodgy – the goals look soft, the betting patterns odd, the team selections unusual. Although there’s been a lot of talk of things being cleaned up, this year seems no different – and one such match may be taking place tomorrow: Krasnodar v Krilya Sovietov.

There is of course no absolute proof of this, but what alerted me to this game seeming odd was the amount of money matched on the Betfair exchange. Check the Russian Premier league weekend coupon, and compare the money staked on this match to the other Premier League ties. At the time of writing the other three Premier League games scheduled for tomorrow have around £1000 staked on them, which is typical a day before the game – the Krasnodar/Krilya Sovietov game has over £130 000.

Such large sums of money staked so early are uncommon in Russian games, and when they do happen, it’s usually because the big teams are playing – Spartak, CSKA or Zenit. Krasnodar are a mid table side in their first season in the top flight, Krilya Sovietov are bottom of the table.

So who’s going to win? The game is in Krasnodar, and they are well above Krilya Sovietov in the league – on paper they are surely the favourites. However, according to where the money is on Betfair right now, Krilya Sovietov are favourites.

Krilya are desperate for points, having never been relegated from the Russian top flight and suddenly in danger here; recently they sold one of their first team regulars, Oleg Samsonov, to Krasnodar. But maybe I’m putting two and two together and making five – we’ll see what happens tomorrow, and check the highlights when they are available on YouTube. In the meantime, check out another recent suspicious game involving Krilya Sovietov.

Saul Pope is the author of ‘New Holland’, a mystery novel set in Russia and published by Espresso Books. He also writes for the football magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’.

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