World Cup preview: Spain vs Russia

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The Luzhniki awaits. After four games during the group phase, the grand stadium will serve up an amuse-bouche round of 16 tie ahead of the semi-final and final to be held at the venue later in July.

The two teams heading to Moscow are perfect for the occasion. Spain, the 2010 winners and one of the hot favourites for the Russia 2018 face the hosts. If the atmosphere for Russia’s superlative opening match performance is anything to go by, Spain will be in for quite a reception.

The respective roads to this round have been contrasting. It was reasonably rocky for La Roja before ultimately topping the group in a remarkable final day in Group B.

Russia’s final group match showdown against Uruguay ended in a disappointing 3-0 defeat, meaning they finished second in Group A, but their consolation is a match at the Sbornaya’s home venue – with a capacity crowd expected to cheer on the hosts.

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 June 15, 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.

Possible line-ups

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



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