The Luzhniki awaits. After four games during the group phase, the grand stadium will serve up an amuse-bouche round of 16 tie ahead of the semi-final and Final to be held at the venue later in July. The two teams heading to Moscow are perfect for the occasion. Spain, the 2010 winners and one of the hot favourites for the Russia 2018 face the hosts. If the atmosphere for Russia’s superlative Opening Match performance is anything to go by, Spain will be in for quite a reception.

The respective roads to this round have been contrasting. It was reasonably rocky for La Roja before ultimately topping the group in a remarkable final day in Group B. Russia’s final group match showdown against Uruguay ended in a disappointing 3-0 defeat, meaning they finished second in Group A, but their consolation is a match at the Sbornaya’s home venue – with a capacity crowd expected to cheer on the hosts.


Team reporter analysis
Antía André [Follow: Twitter | Facebook]​
Spain do not have a particularly strong record when facing host countries. In addition, for this particular test, the defensive problems within Fernando Hierro’s side will be met by the issue of facing one of the highest goalscorers at the tournament so far. The entire squad is available and the coach could make changes in all positions as – up to this point – what has been tried has not gone as expected.

Igor Borunov [Follow: Twitter | Facebook]​
The defeat against Uruguay didn’t influence the preparation for the knockout stage for Russia too much. They will try to learn from their mistakes and move on to confront the might of Spain. The hosts are at full strength and with the support of fans at the Luzhniki, will hope to upset their opponents by attempting to build on the performances of Portugal and Morocco – who managed to score and remain undefeated against La Roja.

Did you know?
On the day of the game, it will have been 11,704 days between matches in the knockout stages at a World Cup for Russia. Their most recent non-group match was on 15 June 1986, where – then competing as the Soviet Union – they were defeated 4-3 AET in a thrilling round of 16 encounter with Belgium. Incidentally, it will be almost eight years (2912 days, to be precise) since Spain played a knockout game: their 2010 Final victory over the Netherlands.

Possible line-ups:
Spain: David De Gea; Dani Carvajal, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Koke, Andres Iniesta, Isco; Diego Costa and Iago Aspas.

Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev; Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba

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The Luzhniki awaits. After four games during the group phase, the grand stadium will serve up an amuse-bouche round of 16 tie ahead of the semi-final and Final to be held at the venue later in July. The two teams heading to Moscow...