Spain v Russia player ratings as Igor Akinfeev earns 8 but dreadful Marco Asensio gets 4

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Hosts Russia caused a massive upset at the World Cup on Sunday as they knocked out Spain after winning 4-3 on penalties.

With the score level at 1-1 after extra-time, the game headed into penalties where Koke and Iago Aspas missed and Fernando Hierro‘s team was ousted from the tournament.

Here we take a look at player ratings for both teams.

SPAIN (4-2-3-1)

David De Gea – 6 – Had hardly anything to do but his distribution wasn’t great. Could save any of Russia’s penalties despite getting close.

Nacho – 6 – Won the free-kick for the opening goal and was solid down the right before going off with a knee problem.

Gerard Pique – 6 – Conceded a silly penalty, otherwise did a decent enough job and crashed home his penalty off the post.

Sergio Ramos – 7 – Produced his usual battering ram job from a set-piece, forcing Ignashevich into the own goal. Scored his penalty.

Jordi Alba – 6 – Covered Russia’s occasional counter-attacks well and tried to help in attack but struggled to provide penetration.

Koke – 5 – Did a good job defensively but very limited on the ball. Missed his penalty in the shoot-out.

Sergio Busquets – 6 – Sat in front of the back four and played in simple, rarely pressured as Russia sat deep.

Isco – 7 – Buzzed everywhere from his starting position on the left wing, always looking Spain’s most – or only – dangerous creative source.

Isco of Spain is challenged by Daler Kuziaev

David Silva – 4 – Another very disappointing game for the veteran, who again couldn’t get on the ball and was rightly replaced.

Marco Asensio – 4 – Brought in to provide creativity down the right but failed to do so. Nice free-kick for the opener but little else.

Diego Costa – 5 – Starved of service and lacking space to attack, this just wasn’t his game. Became slightly more involved after the break before being subbed.

SUBSTITUTES

Andres Iniesta – 6 – Came on midway through the second half and came close to a winner with a fierce 20-yard strike. Scored his penalty.

Dani Carvajal – 6 – Took over from Nacho in right-back duties and tried to be more attacking, but with little effect.

Iago Aspas – 6 – Replaced Costa and provided a different threat with his busy movement, but saw the decisive spot-kick saved.

Rodrigo – 7 – Came on as a second striker in extra time and added much-needed energy, nearly grabbing a winner.

RUSSIA (4-5-1)

Igor Akinfeev – 8 – Largely untroubled but made a pair of good saves from Iniesta and Rodrigo and a great shoot-out stop from Aspas.

Ilya Kutepov – 8 – Looked nervy early on but improved to deliver an excellent performance, anticipating well and acting decisively.

Sergei Ignashevich – 6 – Defended poorly to score an own goal, allowing himself to be bullied out of position, but otherwise solid and scored his penalty.

Fyodor Kudryashov – 7 – Solid job in defence, keeping disciplined to prevent any space from opening up for Spain’s probing attacks.

akinfeev

Mario Fernandes – 8 – Excellent job down the right, limiting the attacking impact of Alba and getting forward whenever he could.

Daler Kuzyaev – 5 – Did he play? Barely noticed until he made a footnote of history by being involved in Russia’s fourth substitution.

Roman Zobnin – 5 – Another anonymous presence in midfield, forced to sacrifice any ball-playing intentions and do a chasing job.

Yuri Zhirkov – 4 – Remarkably only had 15 touches before he was replaced at half-time. Completely anonymous.

Aleksandr Samedov – 5 – Billed as one of Russia’s most creative presences but he had little impact and was replaced after an hour.

Aleksandr Golovin – 7 – By far the most dangerous of Russia’s attackers, though that wasn’t difficult. Fired home a low penalty.

Artem Dzyuba – 6 – Battled for everything in the air including a header to win the penalty in normal time, which he converted crisply. Later subbed.

Substitutes

Vladimir Granat – 5 – Came on at half-time but was almost as invisible as the man he replaced, doing nothing but defending.

Denis Cheryshev – 5 – Came on at some point and did very little until nervelessly netting his team’s fourth penalty.

Fyodor Smolov – 5 – Curled a late shot narrowly wide in a rare attacking burst. Fired penalty into left corner.

Aleksandr Erokhin – 5 –  Added more physical presence after being introduced in the extra period, getting in the way a few times.

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End of an era and other talking points as Spain are stunned by Russia at World Cup 2018

Andy West 1/07/2018
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Spain crashed out of the World Cup with a penalty shoot-out defeat to plucky and lucky hosts Russia, who eventually gained reward for their uber-negative tactics by holding La Roja to a handful of clear chances.

Spain coach Fernando Hierro – only appointed two days before the tournament following the shock sacking of Julen Lopetegui – is already being subjected to fierce criticism after his team failed to turn their overwhelming dominance of possession and territory into more penetrating attacking play.

And that is the game’s main talking point.

Over-cautious Hierro pays the price

Acting Spain coach Fernando Hierro made a tactical tweak for this encounter, dropping Andres Iniesta and recalling Koke into the midfield. And it wasn’t just a change of personnel, as Hierro also changed the team’s shape to line up with a 4-2-3-1 formation, placing Koke deep in a double-pivot in midfield alongside Sergio Busquets.

That move – and Russia’s tedious negativity – helped Spain establish firm control over the flow and tempo of the game, with Koke’s tactical awareness and excellent pressing playing a big role in winning back the ball quickly and keeping the action almost entirely inside Russia’s half.

But with Marco Asensio and David Silva both enduring poor games in their attacking midfield positions, it also left Spain badly lacking in attacking penetration, with Isco the only source of creativity and Diego Costa starved of service.

With Russia hardly ever attacking, it was calling out for Hierro to switch to a back three and introduce another striker, but instead he retained the shape and introduced Iago Aspas instead of Costa rather than alongside him.

He eventually introduced Rodrigo to partner Aspas for the final 20 minutes, and the Valencia man twice nearly won it to show he should have been brought on much earlier rather than risking the lottery of penalties – which eventually proved so costly.

hierro

Russia play it safe

Hosts Russia, meanwhile, produced one of the most negative performances of the tournament, or perhaps any tournament, protecting their three-man central defensive line with a six-man midfield and getting everybody behind the ball, defending deep inside their own half and only very rarely showing any kind of attacking intent.

Compared to the previous day’s end to end thriller between France and Argentina, and the no-holds barred battle between Uruguay and Portugal, it created a painfully slow and uneventful contest, but Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov can’t really be blamed for adopting a pragmatic approach which preyed upon Spain’s weakness – their inability to penetrate well-organised defences.

The home team’s only attacking tactic was launching long ball towards big front man Dzyuba, and that bore fruit when they were gifted an equaliser as Gerard Pique lost the flight of the ball from a corner and the striker headed it goalwards against the arm of the Barcelona man, who had inexplicably left it pointing straight in the air.

Other than that, Russia had nothing to offer going forward and spent the rest of the game holding on for penalties, which eventually proved so glorious for the home team.

russia coach

End of an era

This game will almost certainly trigger the international retirement of several Spain stars who played a key role in their team’s glory years between 2008 and 2012, when they won three consecutive major trophies.

The first of those will be Andres Iniesta, who has the added bitterness of being left on the bench for his final international game. Central defenders Sergio Ramos and Pique, respectively aged 32 and 31, could also call it quits, along with midfielder David Silva (32) who had so little impact in Russia, while Busquets, Jordi Alba and Costa (all 29) may have played in their last World Cups.

And with interim boss Hierro certain to be replaced by a new permanent boss in the coming weeks, the exit in Russia marks the end of an era for the most dominant international team in recent history.

spain 42243

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Croatia make nine changes for World Cup last-16 clash with Denmark

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Croatia made nine changes as they recalled their leading names for the World Cup last-16 clash with Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod.

Zlatko Dalic made wholesale alterations to his side for their final Group D game with Iceland, with qualification already secured.

Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic were the only players to keep their places, with the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic coming back in.

Denmark, meanwhile, made just the two changes to the side that held France to a goalless draw in their last match, with defender Jonas Knudsen and forward Yussuf Poulsen coming in for Jens Larsen and Pione Sisto.

The winner of the tie faces hosts Russia in the quarter-finals.

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