Despite the off-field interferences with former coach Julen Lopetegui’s unceremonious departure, Spain were an efficient winner of Group B, even if, like Portugal, much was left to be desired of certain performances. The hosts, meanwhile, set the tone for their performances with two resounding wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but will be hard pressed to prove that their defeat to Uruguay was a simple once-off bad day at the office.
Spain vs Russia Prediction and Preview
Spain were tepid in their performances in their group but their results do betray their numbers to some extent. Spain hold above average numbers in most attacking respects, being one of only a handful of sides to accumulate over 40 shots already. When one considers 12% of those have been in the six-yard area (only England have a higher proportion), Spain’s issue is clear; their conversion has been sorely lacking. That said, they remain a side capable of slicing open any defence, stubborn or otherwise. On the other end, Spain have a lingering concern with David De Gea’s form; his save rate currently stands as the worst in the World Cup.
Russia’s goal-flush opening games were scuttled by Uruguay’s efficiency, but the hosts will be hopeful that they can sustain some of the home energy in the capital to guide them to victory once again. Their conversion rate on opportunities is excellent, and remains one of the best in the competition despite being held by Uruguay, but the true test will be if they can recover adequately to deliver against one of the best sides in the tournament.
New coach Fernando Hierro found victory with a 4141 formation against industrious Iran, but leveraged a narrow 433 shape against Portugal and Morocco, to attempt to strangle the creativity of the opposition, but these shifts have appeared to pose more headaches in selection than answers. He is likely to favour the 4141 system again given Russia’s intent on using transitional football, but he’ll be hard pressed to solve the issues in selection, especially on the right hand side, where Koke, Thiago and Silva have all been tested with none establishing a clear and obvious solution.
Russia, meanwhile, are anticipated to stay in their 4231 system. The frontline of Dzyuba, Cheryshev and Samedov should remain with the hero of the opening match Golovin returning to the lineup. Russia will likely rely considerably on transitional attacks, so expect big roles for midfielders Gazinskiy and Zobnin as well as fullbacks Fernandes and Zhirkov to ensure the free scoring teammates ahead enjoy enough of the ball to get chances to score against Spain.
Match Facts & Summary
|World Cup Base||Krasnodar||Moscow|
|2014 World Cup Finish||Group Stage||Group Stage|
|Total Head to Head Record||Played 6, Spain 4 Wins|
|Head to Head (World Cup Only)||Never played against each other in World Cup|
|Penalty Shootout Record||Won 1 of 3||None contested|
|Odds – Result||0.69||5.36|
|Odds – To Win World Cup||4.50 (2nd favourite)||65.00|
|Best Odds – Golden Boot||Diego Costa (6.75)||Cheryshev (49.00)|
|Best Odds – Golden Ball||Isco (11.50)||Unavailable|
Spain have not impressed, but like other nations with broader reputations at the tournament, they’ve still appeared nonetheless hard to beat and are far too difficult a side to stop in full flow. Russia have an advantage in the extent of travel that Spain will undertake to reach Moscow, but Hierro has a wonderful variety of players to choose from to manage such fatigue issues, and unless the home ground advantage does enough to intimidate the Spanish into their shell, Russia will likely bow out in the Round of 16 having at the least ensured they’ve made it to the business end of the competition.
* Please note – odds mentioned above are subject to change, so always check the latest published odds to be fully certain before betting.
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