Porous defence making life difficult for La Roja

Spain's defence has been among the dodgy ones at the World Cup 2018.

Gerard Pique's handball that led to Russia being given a penalty which was converted by Artem Dzyuba.   -  AP

Only Panama (11), Argentina (9), Tunisia (8), and Saudi Arabia (7) have conceded more goals than Spain at the FIFA World Cup 2018. This demonstrates how La Roja has been defensively poor, while it managed to win just one of its three Group B fixtures en route to the round of 16.

Except Jordi Alba and Daniel Carvajal, whenever they have played as part of the backline, David de Gea, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, and Nacho Fernandez have been at fault for at least one of the six goals conceded by Spain at the tournament so far.

Live updates: ESP vs RUS

Nacho Fernandez was culpable for the first goal conceded by Spain, the Real Madrid defender fouling club-mate Cristiano Ronaldo in the box. De Gea let the ball slip through his hands from a Cristiano Ronaldo strike, the second goal Spain conceded from a defensive error committed by one of the back five (including the goalkeeper).

Against Morocco, in the final Group B fixture, Ramos and Pique were collectively at fault for the two goals conceded by the 2010 World Cup winner. Morocco might have scored more than two goals with a bit of luck.

Come the round of 16, when errors ought to be avoided, the Spanish defence let the team down again, Pique the man culpable once more. The Barcelona centre-back had his left hand high in the air while trying to defend a corner. A header from behind caught his left arm and the referee pointed to the spot, allowing Artem Dzyuba to score and pull Russia level.

That goal keeps Spain's World Cup campaign in the balance.

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