By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 1st July 2018
Sunday 1st July
Kick-off: 15:00pm BST
Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Live on BBC
Spain vs Russia odds
The Spain vs Russia odds see Fernando Hierro’s men as 8/13 favourites to book their place in the quarter-finals at the host nation’s expense inside 90 minutes, with Russia as long as 24/5 to win and the draw that brings extra time and perhaps penalties a 27/10 shot.
Meanwhile Spain are overwhelmingly favoured by the bookies in the to-qualify betting at 2/7, with Russia 5/2.
Spain vs Russia team news
News coming from the Spain camp is that Marco Asensio may be set to start against Russia in place of David Silva, whilst Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke could be brought in to replace Thiago Alcantara.
Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev may be available for the hosts after suffering a hamstring injury in their opening Group A match against Saudi Arabia, whilst Aleksandr Erokhin could also be set to return for the hosts after recovering from the foot injury.
La Roja are currently injury and suspension free heading into this round-of-16 tie, though midfielder Sergio Busquets is one booking away from a suspension.
Russia’s Fedor Smolov, Yuri Gazinsky and Aleksandr Golovin are all one yellow card from missing the quarter finals should they progress.
Igor Smolnikov will be suspended for the home team after his sending off in the final group games. Mario Fernandes, who started the first two games and assisted a goal vs Egypt., will start at right back.
Manager Fernando Hierro is set to stick with David de Gea in goal, with the Manchester United stopper keeping his place despite some questionable performances in the group stages.
De Gea is the hot topic in Spain at the moment, with former international goalkeeper Santiago Canizares describing his lack of confidence as ‘transparent’. There is a perceived feeling amongst some that De Gea is not a ‘very Spanish goalkeeper’ – that he prefers to stayed glued to his line than fly 30 yards out of his goal.
How he performs today will be a point of interest to many.
Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov is under no illusion of the task at hand. “Spain play football that is clear to us. It’s difficult to find ways to deal with it but we’ll try.”
“We’ve played against Julen Lopetegui’s men and now we can see changes under Fernando Hierro. I won’t go into detail but the team plays differently.”
Spanish centre back Gerard Pique said this week. “The most important quality in winning a World Cup is transmitting defensive solidity,”
“From there, those in attack can be freer and enjoy that greater freedom to score the necessary goals to keep going though. That was what succeeded in South Africa.”
Spain vs Russia match stats
The Spanish are now unbeaten in 23 matches (W15 D8) since losing to Italy at Euro 2016, thanks to a late equaliser from substitute and former Liverpool player Iago Aspas.
Russia have kept just one clean sheet in 11 games during 2017/18, with that coming against Saudi Arabia, and they’ve shipped exactly three times against Spain, Brazil, France and Uruguay.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s side had only three shots in their match against Uruguay, the fewest by a host nation in a World Cup match since USA against Brazil in 1994 (3).
The hosts also scored eight goals in their group despite posting an Expected Goals rating of 3.06 across the three games. This means that they’d have been expected to bag around three times given the quality of their chances.
Spain vs Russia key players to watch
Spanish striker Diego Costa heads into this match in fine form, notching three goals during the group stages. The Atletico Madrid striker is now 5/1 to score first against Russia, and now 7/2 to score 2 or more goals within 90 minutes.
Fyodor Smolov scored two goals against Spain during their 3-3 encounter last November, which is the only game in which he’s ever found the net more than once for Russia. Smolov is currently 14/1 to repeat the feat against Spain this time around.
Aspas’ strike meant he’s now been involved directly in ten goals in his last ten appearances off the bench for his country, with six goals and four assists. He can be backed at odds of 7/2 to score last against Russia in Moscow.
Meanwhile Isco, who netted the opener against Morocco, has now either scored (ten) or assisted (two) in his last 15 internationals and is a 15/8 anytime scorer shout against the hosts.
Andres Iniesta hasn’t scored with any of his last 32 shots at the World Cup/Euros, his last strike dating back to the 2010 final.
When Russia met Spain in Saint Petersburg last November, both La Roja defender Sergio Ramos and Russian striker Fyodor Smolov struck braces in the match. Ramos’ anytime goalscorer odds for their next meeting are 9/2, while Smolov’s are 23/10.
Interestingly, despite the wealth of creative talent within the Spanish ranks, the Golden Eagles’ Aleksandr Golovin will be the most prolific tournament assister on show at Luzhniki.
Golovin, who plies his trade for CSKA Moscow, is one of just three players to have assisted two goals at the World Cup, alongside Carlos Sanchez or Uruguay and Colombia’s James Rodriguez.
Reports suggest that Juventus are interested in his signature have arisen in recent days, while Manchester United and Barcelona are also rumoured to have scouts in Russia to assess the youngster.