Teams: Spain vs Russia
Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium
After Russia waltzed through their opening two games of the World Cup against Saudi Arabia, the feel was that they had not been properly tested. They had not faced a side of genuine quality. Russia’s 3-0 defeat to Uruguay certainly confirmed the feelings. The Sbornaya face pre-tournament favourites Spain at the Luzhniki Stadium in the round of 16. Fernando Hierro’s side aren’t without their weakness, though formidable in attack, their defence sticks out as a foible. The defence conceded three against Portugal and another two against Morocco.
They were made to grind out a draw against a spirited Morocco side. And only just nicked a victory against Iran. Against hosts, Russia urged on overwhelmingly by the supporters at Moscow, it could be a tough fixture for La Furia Roja. Russia need no further motivation playing in front of their fans. However, it is expected that the superior quality of the Spanish side shines through. The last time both teams met in 2017, it ended in a wild 3-3 draw.
Did you know?
On the day of the game, it will have been 11,704 days between matches in the knockout stages at a World Cup for Russia. Their most recent non-group match was on 15 June 1986, where – then competing as the Soviet Union – they were defeated 4-3 AET in a thrilling round of 16 encounter with Belgium. Incidentally, it will be almost eight years (2912 days, to be precise) since Spain played a knockout game: their 2010 Final victory over the Netherlands.
Spain: David De Gea; Dani Carvajal, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Koke, Andres Iniesta, Isco; Diego Costa and Iago Aspas.
Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev; Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba