Spain vs Russia preview, betting tips and prediction
La Roja need to find their feet soon
Spain to win with a -1 handicap @ 13/8 with Paddy Power
Spain face the hosts Russia in the last 16 of the World Cup on Sunday afternoon. La Roja came into the tournament in crisis after Julen Lopetegui, their manager, was sacked for taking the Real Madrid job without telling the Federation, and Fernando Hierro has taken the safety first route while in charge during the group stage, setting the team up in Lopetegui’s image. But they have not had it all their own way, drawing with a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal in the first game and, after beating Iran in the second, they needed a late Iago Aspas goal to draw level with Morocco. Portugal’s draw with Iran meant that Hierro’s men won the group, avoiding what on paper would have been an even tougher tie against Uruguay. They don’t have much time to find their feet, but we think they will get past Russia fairly comfortably.
From Russia’s point of view, it has already been a successful tournament; they have exceeded all expectations of a disgruntled public by getting out of the group stage. The manner in which they did it, too, was mightily impressive. They may have been well and truly out classed by Uruguay on matchday three, but they coasted past both Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their earlier games. Denis Cheryshev has three goals to his name while Artem Dzyuba has two. They will come up against Diego Costa, another striker with three goals to his name. But Russia’s star man this summer has undoubtedly been Aleksandr Golovin, who has shone on the biggest stage as he looks to impress his growing list of suitors.
With Cheryshev, Dzyuba and Costa all likely to be on the pitch at the same time in Moscow on Sunday, the race for the Golden Boot could be an interesting sub-plot to the game. Our tip to score anytime, though, is not any of them; Isco scored Spain’s first against Morocco on Monday and his influence on the team is growing. He can be found at 11/5.
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