The home nation Russia will be hoping to further progress in the World Cup when they face 2010 winners Spain in this round of 16 fixture.
Russia’s campaign in this tournament could not have begun in more extravagant fashion. After a massive opening ceremony featuring some north-eastern up and coming singer, Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 in a terribly one-sided affair. The Golden Eagles carried this momentum to their second game against Egypt, winning this 3-1 and keeping Mo Salah relatively quiet. These first two games fully reflected Russia’s underrated prowess. Players such as Denis Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin were both instrumental to these victories. Cheryshev even provided an early goal of the tournament contender with a superb strike in the opening fixture. The side faltered, however, in their final game against Uruguay. The side showed a lack of discipline here, with an early Cheryshev own goal and Smolnikov red card effectively burying this team. Russia nevertheless progressed to the second round of the tournament in second place of Group A. A mainly positive group stage for Russia, however a win in the next round will help to prove their value.
Spain was my choice to be the most underwhelming side of this World Cup. My predictions are often wrong, however I was fairly correct here. The Spanish campaign opened with a spectacular 3-3 draw against Portugal, in which the side was almost single-handedly defeated by a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. Many pundits predicted an easy win for Spain in their subsequent game against Iran. The reality, however, was a closely contested 1-0 victory for the Spaniards. Their final game against the already eliminated Morocco gave a similar story. Spain allowed Morocco to come back into the game too often, resulting in a close 2-2 draw. This, however, could easily have been a loss for Spain. As a result, despite remaining undefeated and topping Group B, Spain often looked shaky in the opening matches. Therefore, this match against Russia will allow them to prove that they deserve their spot in the second round of the tournament.
The Lazy Fan Prediction
It has been a good run for Russia in this tournament so far. Their performances against Saudi Arabia and Egypt provided many good highlights and memories. However, I think their run in the tournament ends here. Spain often looked promising, despite their mixed results in the first round. Here, I think Spain live up to the occasion and defeat the home nation. I expect the game to be close, however, and predict a 3-2 win for the Spaniards.