Spain vs Russia preview, betting tips and prediction
Spain -1 @ 17/10 with Betfair
Spain were far from spectacular in the group stage but the best is still to come from La Roja. Considering the disaster that befell them on the eve of their opener against Portugal, Spain coped alright. It’s not clear what stamp Fernando Hierro has put on the team since Julen Lopetegui’s sacking. They have continued as they were and will gather momentum as they progress through the knockout rounds. Barring something crazy, they’ll be in the last eight.
Defeat to Uruguay has brought Russia back down to earth following two misleadingly big wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Their tie with the South Americans was the first true test of the tournament for them and they failed spectacularly. Uruguay were comfortably better than Russia and reminded everyone of the pessimism surrounding the side going into the tournament.
Individual mistakes have littered Spain’s campaign so far with David De Gea being under the spotlight after fluffing a save in the 3-3 draw with Portugal. He had to wait until the third game of the tournament to stop a shot and conceded twice in that 2-2 draw with Morocco. He could be dropped for this tie with Athletic Club’s Kepa coming in to replace him.
Russia played with fluidity in their first two games but couldn’t find any rhythm against Uruguay. They won’t see much of the ball in this game so will need to retain their shape and their discipline. Igor Smolnikov was given a first-half red card in that aforementioned 3-0 defeat. Playing against a team as dominant as Spain can be frustrating but Russia can’t lose their heads or let them drop if they are to stand any chance of getting through.
Spain should have a fully-fit squad for the game.
Smolnikov is serving a suspension. Alan Dzagoev is battling injury.