Russia faced a lot of derision both as a nation and as a team heading into the 2018 World Cup. More than a few people complained about holding the World’s Greatest Sporting event in a country run by Vladimir Putin. Even if the critics own countries had problems of their own too. As for the team few experts or fans gave Russia any respect at all.
But so far both the nation and the football squad have exceeded expectations. Russia has been a great host as Putin and company have put their best foot forward. The team has been exciting to watch and has thrilled homeland fans with a berth into the Round of 16. But now the rubber meets the road as Russia plays mega talented Spain in a win or else match.
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2018 FIFA World Cup Spain vs. Russia
Date and Time: Sunday, July 1, 2018, 10 a.m. ET
Location: Luzhniki Stadium, Russia
World Cup Betting Online Odds at SBG: Russia +1 -130, Spain -1 +110, Over 2 ½ +132, Under 2 ½ -152, Russia +575, Spain -165, Draw +270
2018 FIFA World Cup TV Coverage: FOX
Russia is a 50/1 choice to win the World Cup. Spain the top choice 4/1 favorite to win the championship.
Redemption in Russia
Spain is just eight years removed from their 2010 World Cup championship and entered Russia as a feared favorite. Especially after the team was humiliated in Brazil four years ago with their failure to get out of the group stage. They had a hard time living that down ever since and were determined to redeem themselves at Russia in this year’s tournament.
Pulling the Rug Out from Under Spain
Spain was one of the most impressive teams in qualifying and a big reason as to why was coach Julen Lopetegui. He got the talented team focused, repurposed and back on track as a world power. But Lopetegui made one huge mistake. He accepted the Real Madrid coaching job effective after the World Cup. The imbecilic Spanish Administration threw a hissy fit and sacked the coach on the eve of the World Cup opener. The Players did not want a coaching chance. Everything that was built up over years was blown apart.
Sluggish in Group.
Departing Russia with Lopetegui was Spain’s swagger and confidence. And it showed in their opener when they failed to protect a late lead against Portugal as Cristiano Ronaldo tied the match with his third goal of the game at the 88 minute mark. In their second match Spain was quite lethargic in a listless 1-0 win over an Iran team that they should have decimated. In their third match they again were under par in a 2-2 draw with outgunned Morocco. Spain “won” Group B by default. And the loss of Lopetegui was seen for what it was; A truly damaging blow to a team that was feeling great about itself and was in good habits. Until Lopetegui was canned.
Host Russia had the opening day to themselves with the only match of that day and destroyed Saudi Arabia 5-0. It was cause for national celebration. In their next match the Russians scored an impressive 3-1 win over Egypt. While Egypt is no power it was the type of performance one would expect against the Pharaohs. In their third match against Uruguay for the Group A title Russia got a reality check in a 3-0 loss to the Sky Blue. But they made the knockout round which has everyone pleased.
Spain vs. Russia Free Picks
Spain has been their own worst enemy with the firing of their manager. However, Russia lacks the defense against top tier teams as evidenced by their loss to Portugal. Spain should win be sheer talent alone but it may again be a default type of victory.
Spain vs. Russia Pick: Bet the money line on Spain
Spain vs. Russia Score Prediction: Spain 3, Russia 1
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