Spain will look to progress to the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup but will need to overcome the challenge of Russia. The host nation have shown they can score goals, albeit against bad opposition, but La Rioja have not been great either.
Three Keys To Success For Spain
Spain will know that they need to improve drastically to be within a chance of advancing and it will be crucial. They were considered as one of the pre-tournament favourites, however, their performances have somewhat disappointed.
They will need to ensure that their defence is as solid as can be and they can get their forward players firing following Julen Lopetegui’s sacking. But most importantly, they will need to forget they are playing against the hosts.
One concern the Spanish have had this World Cup is their defence. Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique have been far from their best. La Rioja have conceded five goals already, whilst Russia have managed to net eight.
The backline has looked shaky and has certainly lacked the confidence that they previously have shown. In the game against Morocco, a simple long throw-in nearly caught them out.
If Spain are not to be on the end of an upset, considering that Russia have been awful prior to the competition, Ramos and Pique will need to be at their best.
Their performances as a whole appear to be far from what is expected from a Spanish side. Lopetegui brought the Spanish back to what they were following their disastrous World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016 campaigns.
The manager had been sacked just days before their clash with Portugal for taking the Real Madrid job. However, in the two years that he was the national boss, he never tasted defeat and his side rarely conceded.
In fact, in 20 games, they conceded just 13 times and recorded 14 victories. Spain needs to forget about him and move forward, however, their football just is not showing that.
Hosts Trouble Spain
Spain really do not like it when they come up against the host nation of a major tournament. In the eight games they have played, they have never won. Actually, they have lost seven of those fixtures.
La Rioja will need to break their duck this year if they are to reach the last 8, but history is not on their side.
They struggled through their Group Stage, despite managing to top it with the help of VAR in other fixtures. They looked good against Portugal although there were defensive concerns, however, Iran and Morocco seemed to stop them from attacking.
Spain will now need to play their best game as there are no second chances and those at home will expect them to progress.
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