Preview - Spain vs Russia 01 July 18

Started by Harry85, Jul 01, 2018, 08:08 PM

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World Cup Last 16
Spain vs Russia
Sunday, July 1st, 2018
23:00pm, (GMT +8 Timing)
Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium

Last five matches form: D W D W D
Average goals per match last ten: 2.30
Average goals against per match last ten: 1.10
Top Scorer: David Silva (35)

Last five matches form: L D W W L
Average goals per match last ten: 1.40
Average goals against per match last ten: 1.70
Top Scorer: Artem Dzyuba (13)

The host nation enter the knockout phase this coming Sunday as Russia take on Spain.

Spain have won four of the six meetings between these sides, with the other two encounters ending in a draw. The most recent of those draws came in a 3-3 goal fest in November 2017.

For most Russian fans making the knockout stages would be deemed a successful tournament. Now that they have made it safely through though, expectations may well have gone up a notch. Impressive in dismantling both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the wheels came off once stepped up in class against Uruguay with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat.

The suspicion is though that the way this game pans out may be more suitable to Russia than that encounter with Cavani, Suarez and co. With Spain likely to dominate the ball, Russia will be content to sit and hit at pace on the counter, a tactic to which Spain have already looked vulnerable at times.

Having watched Spain against Portugal, we were of the opinion that they were by some distance the most impressive side in the competition. Whilst subsequent efforts against Iran and Morocco have forced us to revise that assessment, they do still probably deserve their status as one of the favourites to win it all. Our one concern would be that the downturn in performance could be at least partly due to the aging limbs in the squad.

We wouldn't be massively confident about Spain here, particularly with Russia having home advantage. All that said though they are a supremely talented group, and provided they can avoid their defensive errors, they should have much too much for Russia.

Prediction: Spain 3 - 1 Russia


Half time: 1 - 1
Full time: 1 - 1
After Extra Time: 1-1
Penalties: 3 - 4
Shots: 16 - 5
Shots on target: 10 - 1
Corner Kicks: 6 - 5
Possession: 79% - 21%

Gerard Pique was booked for Spain in this one with Russia's Ilya Kutepov and Roman Zobnin also having their names taken by referee Bjorn Kuipers.

Russia parked the bus against Spain, and the bus won.

Spain will be criticised for a lack of incisiveness, and whilst that may justifiable to an extent, they nevertheless were the better side by a huge margin on the stats. Miles ahead in possession and with Russia mustering a paltry one shot on target in the game, Spain weren't as good as they have been in recent years, but it was still sad to see this victory of ante-football against total football.

Not that Russia can really be blamed. Woefully overmatched on an individual by individual basis, they would likely have been torn to shreds had they adopted a more adventurous approach. As such this stifling strategy was the one which would give them the most chance of success, and in the end it worked via the coin toss of a penalty shootout.

Things couldn't have started much worse for Russia as they fell behind in just the 12th minute. A Marco Asensio free kick from the right-hand side being turned into his own net by Sergei Ignashevich. Not that he knew much about the deflection off his heel as he was facing the other way and attempting to haul down Sergio Ramos at the time.

Spain couldn't make it to the break with their lead intact. Gerard Pique stupidly leaving his arm in the air to block an Artem Dzyuba header. Penalty kick with Dzyuba himself stepping up to dispatch the ball 1-1 at the break.

Tiki-Taki all the way from Spain in the second half as Russia didn't have a sniff. But then neither did Spain as they failed to up the pace sufficiently to hurt the hosts. Extra time required.

Another 30 minutes and another period of Spanish dominance. They did crank up the pressure as time began to run down, with Rodrigo going close, and Russia somehow surviving a VAR enquiry when it looked as though both Ramos and Pique had been hauled down in the area.

It seemed from that moment that this was not to be Spain's day and so it proved. Russia perfect from the penalty spot in the shootout whilst Nacho and Aspas were the men to have their efforts saved.

Russia progress to the quarters. Spain Out!

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