Russia vs Spain Preview

       The hosts of the 2018 World Cup take on the winners of the 2010 World Cup in the round of 16 tie. After a second place finish for Russia, they take on Spain who finished first in group B owing to their draw against Morocco. Russia had an amazing start to the world cup by beating Saudi Arabia 5-0. They then went on to beat Egypt 3-1. However, a dismal performance on the final day of group stage game when they lost 3-0 to Uruguay who went on to top the group.
      Spain were in a very interesting group. They started the campaign with an intense 3-3 draw with Portugal. They then marginally beat Iran 1-0 and were held to a 2-2 draw against Morocco in Kaliningrad. Spain are one of the most unconvincing group leaders. I did find an interesting tweet that said that if Spain don't qualify today, one of the possible finalists are - Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia, England. And I would love to see one of these teams in the finals. It will be a nice break from the usual array of finalists. 

Image result for russia vs spain round of 16

      So let us take a look at the lineups that both the sides are likely to field tomorrow, starting with the home team:

Russia: 

Goalkeeper: Igor Akinfeev

Defenders: Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergei Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov

Midfielders: Yuri Gazinsky, Roman Zobnin, Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba

Spain: 

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Dani Carvajal, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba

Midfielders: Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, David Silva, Isco, Thiago Alcantara

Forwards: Diego Costa

      This game should be a tough game because Russia have played some great football this tournament. Spain finished first but were highly sloppy and relied on a last minute VAR decision. Both have solid midfield players and it will be interesting to see where Fernando Hierro places Iniesta on the pitch. The fifth midfield position in the Spanish squad is also up for grabs. So far it has been occupied by Koke, Thiago, and Vasquez. Therefore it remains to be seen who clinches it in the round of 16 tie. Hope we're in for a good game!

Score Prediction: 2-1 to Spain.

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