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Spain Will Need an Improved Back Line vs Russia in Round of 16

Russia’s World Cup goal-scoring spree was brought to an abrupt halt by a well-oiled Uruguayan defensive machine and while their next opponent Spain would have been among the highest rated defensive sides pre-tournament, that accolade is now in question.La Roja’s goaltending and defensive reputation was rocked during a tough group stage and the Russian’s will need that to continue if they have any hope here.

Bovada currently has Spain as the favorite in moneyline markets at -170 with Russia coming back at +525 and the draw at +225. Totals shape up with the OVER 2 is priced at +105 and the UNDER at +285.

SHARK BITES
  • Spain have the highest number of goals against among group winners.
  • Russia have 8 goals through the group stage, tied as the second best in group stages.
  • There have been over 2.5 goals in 10 of Spain’s last 14 games.

Leaky Last Men Back

Ramos, Pique and De Gea all had lapses in group play and that needs to be rectified for them to make a proper run in Russia.

The Russians don’t portray an ideal footballing squad, but they’ve pounced on their opportunities, as have Spain’s previous competitors. De Gea’s blunder to allow an ordinary attempt from Ronaldo past him, and some questionable marking from Pique and Ramos to allow Morocco to put up their only tallies of the tournament does not instill confidence.

Going forward the Spanish are one of the most entertaining sides on the planet, with jaw-dropping passing sequences and world-class finishing. Their entire XI often have an impact on any chances they get. That prowess should be on display against the Russians, but if they give an inch to this side the home crowd will be a major factor.

Fernando Hierro took the helm just days before the tournament began so there was bound to be an adjustment period, and at this stage I’d like to think they’ve sorted any issues out. The Real Madrid legend was one of the best defenders to ever grace the pitch at the Bernabéu and I expect his men to look to him for inspiration in trying halt the Russian attack.

A both teams to score prop would be worth a look if you think Hierro’s defense is still shaky, though.

Lost: Russian Scoring Boots

The Saudis and Egyptians both felt the wrath of the home nation’s potent but surprising attack. With eight goals through two matches I was beginning to change my very negative tone about the Russians, but reality set in when they faced a very good Uruguay squad.

Uruguay’s back line is one of the best at the tournament and has been flawless by definition to this point. Scoring against them was always going to be a tall order, but the Russian’s did see their share of chances not converted.

Cheryshev will look to add to his tally of three but he’ll need support. Unfortunately that support is hard to come by if you don’t have the ball. Spain will control the lion’s share of possession and I expect them to find the net more than once here so the Russian’s will need a huge game from their talisman.

If you think the Russian’s can exploit the Spanish back line a Cheryshev to score anytime prop would be advisable

Test The Total

Defensive troubles aside the Spanish have been very good offensively scoring in each of their group matches and putting up two or more against two very steady defensive teams in Morocco and Portugal.

Costa was a question mark for me heading into the World Cup, but he quickly turned my doubt into belief with his brace against Iberian rivals Portugal. Isco and Silva provide some of the best service you could ask for and the Atletico man has benefited greatly.

The Spanish midfield should be able to break down the Russians with ease and I think the total of 2.5 will be hit easily. Look for an OVER play here.

Favorite Play

I think Spain takes this one easily and moves on to the quarterfinals, but I think Russia will provide some moments of drama, give me the Spain moneyline at -170 all day.

Bet on the 2018 World Cup here