Talking points: Keepers hog the limelight, Spain exits

With Russia and Croatia booking its place in the quarterfinals, we take a look at four talking points from the concluded Round-of-16 matches.

Published : Jul 02, 2018 03:38 IST

Sergio Ramos was reduced to tears after Spain's World Cup exit in the last-16 stage.
Sergio Ramos was reduced to tears after Spain's World Cup exit in the last-16 stage.

Sergio Ramos was reduced to tears after Spain's World Cup exit in the last-16 stage.

Spain runs out of luck

Spain was the latest casualty in the list of heavyweights which have exited the World Cup a lot earlier than their potential warrants.

La Roja, however, like Argentina, had scrapped through to the Round-of-16, have its porous defence at fault for three of its undesirable results in the World Cup campaign.

READ: Russia knocks out Spain, Akinfeev the hero in shootout

Defensive vulnerability meant Spain found itself having to score three and two goals for a point in two of its Group B fixtures (coming from behind on both occasions)!

Come the last-16, however, Gerard Pique's handball proved costly. With the attackers not at their incisive best, Spain didn't score a goal at all (Sergei Ignashevich's own goal gave it the lead) over 120 minutes and was beaten 4-3 on penalties by Russia.

Russia the dark horse?

When it was soundly beaten by Uruguay in the final Group A fixture, one wondered if Russia had been offered a reality check.

But lining up in a 5-3-2 formation, knowing its limitations against a strong Spanish team and playing within itself, Russia neutralised the World Cup 2010 winner as an attacking force.

ALSO READ: I am saving my emotions for later, says Russian coach

With Croatia up next, Russia might set up in the same way it did against Spain. And, with the confidence of having knocked out Spain playing the way it did, the World Cup host will be brimming with confidence ahead of the quarterfinal.

And, with nobody giving it a chance (which has been the case right from its first fixture against Saudi Arabia), Russia could thrive as an underdog. 

1114 passes, 78% possession, 1 goal

With its array of gifted midfielders in its lineup, Spain was expected to walk all over Russia in the Round-of-16 encounter in Moscow. While it did dominate the host for majority of the match, its only source of goal was from the opposition player from a corner kick.

For all their passing, the likes of Isco, David Silva and Andres Iniesta were unable to get Spain the crucial second goal against Stanislav Cherchesov's well-drilled unit. Spain's interim boss said after the match, "It is difficult to attack a team which has 11 players defending, which is organised and physical."

ALSO READ: Spain breaks World Cup passing record

Although, Spain was knocked out after the penalty shootouts, it smashed a new passing record in World Cup history. La Roja went past Argentina's record of 703 passes from 2010 with a total of 1114 passes in the 120 minutes of play.

Shot-stoppers' night out

Denmark's Kasper Schmeichel will count himself unlucky after his heroic display between the posts in the penalty shootout defeat to Croatia.

ALSO READ: Rakitic spares Modric blushes with winning spot-kick

On a night where he made three crucial penalty saves, including two in the shootout, he was upstaged by his opposition number Danijel Subasic with three saves in the sudden death.

ALSO READ: Igor Akinfeev - The Russian whom Spain will remember for long

Earlier in the day, custodian Igor Akinfeev denied Spain's Koke and Iago Aspas from slotting their penalties in the shootout to hand Russia a stunning win.

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