Predicted Spain XI to face Russia in the World Cup Round of 16
Spain opened their campaign with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Portugal, in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick. They eventually topped the group on goal difference, which saw Portugal finish 2nd in the group. La Roja haven’t been so convincing of late, toiling to win against Iran and drawing against Morocco.
Spain take on hosts Russia on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium. Russia have been impressive, winning two games to finish 2nd behind Uruguay. It will certainly be an open game, with either team capable of coming out as winners.
La Roja have no injury concerns and Fernando Hierro has a full squad to pick from. None of the players has any real suspensions to worry about. Spain are now unbeaten in their last 23 games and will be aiming to add to that number by getting one over the hosts.
Probable Spain XI
Manager: Fernando Hierro
David De Gea (GK)
De Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The Manchester United shot-stopper hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts to this World Cup campaign, failing to make a simple save against Cristiano Ronaldo. Nevertheless, De Gea is still a top-quality goalkeeper and should start in goal.
Jordi Alba (LB)
The Barcelona left-back is an undisputed starter at club and country and there’s no one better to take his spot. Jordi Alba has played every single game for Spain and should certainly start again on Sunday.
Sergio Ramos (CB)
Ramos is one of the best centre-backs in the world. The Real Madrid captain will be crucial for Spain as they bid to stop Golovin and his team. Ramos is a leader and a commander at the back, and Hierro shouldn’t look elsewhere when he picks his defenders.
Gerard Pique (CB)
Along with Ramos, Pique is also a top defender whose position in Barcelona is unrivalled. Pique and Ramos together form a formidable partnership and there’s nobody better to partner with Ramos than Pique himself. Easy one for Hierro.
Dani Carvajal (RB)
Carvajal missed the first game after picking up an injury in the Champions League final but the Real Madrid defender was slotted straight back into the team as he returned to full fitness. Carvajal is one of the best right-backs in the world and should start this game.
Andres Iniesta (LCM)
The 34-year-old has experienced an emotional season after departing Barcelona for Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe. Nevertheless, Iniesta is still one of the classiest and most technically brilliant players in the squad. He brings a new dimension of style to the La Roja’s game and should start no matter what. This is surely the Barcelona legend’s last World Cup.
Sergio Busquets (CM)
One of Spain’s most underrated players, Busquets is the man behind everything. He is Barcelona’s unsung hero and it seems as though the Spanish will have a tough time without him in the midfield. Busquets brings stability in the middle of the park. He’s also a defensively sound midfielder.
Thiago Alcantara (RCM)
Alcantara rose to prominence during his time with Bayern Munich and is known for his silky ability on the ball. He is also excellent at ball distribution. Thiago should retain his place for the game against Russia.
Generally operates as a central midfielder for Real Madrid but Isco’s versatility allows him to play in a number of positions. The midfielder thrived in the winger’s role last game with his vision and creativity in full throttle. Isco could be the one pulling the strings in the attack.
Diego Costa (ST)
Costa scored a brace in the opener against Portugal. So far, he has fit in seamlessly and though Iago Aspas came on as a substitute and scored last time, Costa should retain his place.
David Silva (RW)
A player who was probably written off at the start of the season but ended up being one of Manchester City’s best players. Silva has found great form after breaking bad with his new hairstyle. The midfielder’s touch and passes are brilliant in the final third and Hierro will certainly need them against the hosts.