Spain didn’t look particularly well during the group stage, but still managed to make the job done in the end. Their first round game against Portugal was probably the best game at the competition which ended 3:3.
However, like the Spaniards dropped down in form from that moment on – or thought the next matches will be easier. They only recorded narrow victory over Iran, while they were losing twice in the third round game against Morocco.
Africans took the lead in fourteenth minute via Boutaib, while Isco leveled up five minutes later. Spain had much more of the ball possession, but didn’t care to attack much. Morocco took the lead again, in 81st minute thanks to a goal from En Nesyri while the Spaniards upped the tempo only once they found themselves in trouble.
Aspas leveled up during the added time. Surely that their approach wasn’t the best possible in these two games, but now everything changes as the final stage comes. There are no more calculations are every mistake will be punished.
Spain should continue in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Costa in attack. Iniesta, Isco and Asensio will be his offensive support. Goalkeeper Jose Reina is doubtful for this one, so Kepa Arrizabalaga could start between the posts. Sergio Busquets is one booking away from ban.
Russia started the World Cup with impressive and morale boosting 5:0 victory over Saudi Arabia, while the nation’s hopes were even bigger after 3:1 victory over Egypt in second round. They tactically outplayed the Africans, but must be also said that the Egyptians looked too downhearted from the first goal conceded and their game plan was ruined.
However, like the reality was shown in the third round when they were somehow too easily defeated by Uruguay with a 3:0 result. It was a game that decided the group winner and Russians didn’t react well to it. Uruguayans were simply getting into goal scoring chances too easily. Suarez and an own goal brough the South Americans into the lead after twenty five minutes of play.
Smolnikov’s red card in 36th minute only made the things more difficult to hosts. Uruguayans had ball possession in second part, but didn’t press that much. Still, Cavani scored once more in 90th minute for the final 3:0 victory.
Russians are set to continue in 4-2-3-1 formation with Dzuyba as central striker. Samedov, Golovin and Cheryshev should be acting as offensive midfielders. Offensive Alan Dzagoev is injured and won’t perform anymore at the tournament.
Right back Igor Smolnikov is suspended after red card against Uruguay. Mario Fernandes is anyway expected to return. Aleksandr Golovin, Fedor Smolov and Yuri Gazinskiy are all one booking away from suspension.
~ Spain have scored at least 2 goals in 9 of their last 11 matches (FIFA World Cup).
Russia looked well against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but they were hit by reality against Uruguay. South Americans needed very little chances and effort in order to dispatch Russia, while I can’t see them improving against even better Spain. Spaniards didn’t impress so far, but they have just what’s needed in order to the victory against hosts who can’t compete nor defend against a side that moves the ball so well like Spain does.