The knockout rounds are underway at the World Cup and we have already seen some major moments. And, Sunday promises to be a memorable day with hosts Russia taking on Spain in what will be an intriguing clash. The hosts have shocked fans to get a place in the last 16, playing some brilliant football in the first two games as well. However they got a big reality check against Uruguay in their final group game and will start as underdogs against a Spain side that is blessed with outrageous quality all over the pitch.
Spain have only shown flashes of their brilliance so far in the tournament though, playing very well against Portugal but Cristiano Ronaldo managed to earn a point for his country. A win over Iran was unconvincing, whilst they needed a last-minute strike from Iago Aspas to earn a draw against Morocco, so this isn’t a side that is unstoppable.
Meanwhile, Russia, who will be backed by a raucous crowd, have already exceeded expectations. They play with intensity, passion and have some clear threats in Aleksandr Golovin and Artem Dzyuba. However, they are a fairly limited side and the one truly top side they’ve played so far, Uruguay, beat them comfortably and that will worry the hosts.
Here we will give you Spain vs Russia betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a Spain vs Russia prediction for the last 16 clash.
Our Spain vs Russia Prediction: Spain 2-0 Russia
Our Spain vs Russia prediction tips is for the Spanish side to show their class, control the game and grab a win that will see them progress to the last eight.
After the chaos that rocked them just a day before the tournament started, you’d have to say Spain have responded pretty well. They managed to qualify as group winners from a very tough section, even if they weren’t at their free-flowing best. However, La Roja will back themselves to deliver as the pressure increases. Fernando Hierro’s men are superior all over the pitch to Russia and will want to prove that quickly.
Yet, Russia will make it tough. They are a well organised side that are playing with confidence and we’ve seen at World Cup’s over the years just what home advantage can do. They will have seen weaknesses in this Spain side and they will expect to run them close given the likes of Iran and Morocco did.
Our recommended tip – Spain to win
Despite the feeling about Russia going into the tournament, there’s no doubt they are a decent side but ultimately they are coming up against a top, top nation in Spain.
Spain’s players have played in the biggest games in the world. From World Cup finals to Champions League finals to El Clasico, so they won’t be fazed by this fixture in Moscow, which is bad news for Russia. The one-time winners will keep the ball well, make the hosts work and have cutting edge with the likes of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco feeding Diego Costa. There’s simply too much quality for the hosts.
Russia are likely to let them keep the ball, sit deep and counter but they don’t really have the pace up top. And, if they concede the first goal they will have to force the issue and that will not suit them at all. They will be able to play without pressure as Spain are expected to go far but the Uruguay game highlights how they aren’t at a top side.
Given that, it’s hard to look past a Spain win. They have a complete team and whilst they haven’t played to their potential, they could beat Russia playing as they have done, whereas if they do pick things up it’s no contest at all.
The clash in Moscow will be the seventh match between the nations but the first at a World Cup. It’s a fixture the Spanish have dominated, winning four and drawing two of the previous six, which included two wins in their Euro 2008 success. However, the sides played each other in a friendly late last year in Russia, and the game ended 3-3.
As for their form, the hosts demolished Saudi Arabia and Egypt with very impressive team performances, before losing 3-0 to Uruguay, although they did rest a few significant players and went down to ten men. They have exceeded expectations and will hope rediscover their early form against Spain.
The Spanish have been a real mixed bag. They were fantastic against Portugal but failed to win, dominating the ball, finding spaces and getting in behind but they only drew. Against Iran they stuttered but won yet they were very poor against Morocco. The North African side were far better and deserved all three points, with Spain easily countered on and slow in their build-up.
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Players to watch – Andres Iniesta & Aleksandr Golovin
The Spanish have plenty of key players but the standout midfielder is still the legendary Iniesta. He plays in a slightly more advanced role for the national team and will be key in linking everything together in the final third. His ability to dribble past opponents and pick a telling pass is unrivalled and he will be the one that is tasked with opening up a Russian defence that will no doubt sit deep and look to frustrate the Spanish.
For Russia, a lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of exciting attacking midfielder Golovin. The CSKA Moscow man has enjoyed a fine tournament and missed the loss against Uruguay which was significant. Against Spain, Russia will defend and counter and Golovin will be central to that. He has the pace to make a difference in transitions and his speed and ability on the ball will be a major worry for the Spanish defence who have looked vulnerable at times.