Some locks are harder to break than others. While in France, headlines are about a spectacular prison break, in Russia, Spain has failed to pull itself off the web woven by the Sbornaya, in the round of 16 of the World Cup. After a game largely dominated by Fernando Hierro’s men – the first team in history to make more than a thousand assists in a game – but poor on goalscoring opportunities, Stanislas Tchertchessov’s men took the shots on goal (1-1, 4-3).
Heroic in defense, the teammates of a great Akinfeiev in the cages suffered the whole game, but, bending the spine, never broke. Not even when in the 11th minute Ignashevich opened the scoring against his camp while the Russian defender hit Ramos with a free – kick. Just before the break, and while they had the game at their feet, the Spaniards conceded the equalizer on a foul from a nose-down hand in the area. A logical penalty, that Dzyuba made himself a joy to transform in the fervor of the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Possession is not used
With 80% ball possession, Spain played in the pass at Ten (the pass at a thousand, even, see above), but without getting any goal opportunities. Like some of its predecessors, this Roja seemed unable to propose anything other than its redoubled and millimetre passes but unable to move the Russian Defense. She who had lost coach Julen Lopetegui, fired by the Spanish Federation two days before the first match for having accepted the job offer of Real Madrid without speaking to its management, also lost her effectiveness.
Failing to do so by the proposed game, this part became history, when in the 97th minute, Kuzyayev was replaced by Ierokhin. Russia first applied the new rule allowing coaches to tap into their bench for a fourth time in case of overtime.
During the penalty shootout, Spaniards Koke and Aspas saw their attempt deflected by the Russian goalkeeper, while the Sbornaya realized a no-fault. For the first time since the fall of the USSR, Russia is in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and Chetchessov’s men will face the winner of Croatia-Denmark on Saturday, July 7 at 8 p.m. Spain, on the other hand, joined Germany, Argentina and Portugal in the ranks of the “great” countries eliminated prematurely. As in 1934, 1950 and 2002, La Roja proved unable to defeat the Organizing country on its lands. On the sidelines at kick-off (for the first time in 16 matches) and entering the game, Andres Iniesta could have lived his last adventures under the Spanish Jersey that he led to the firmament.