Spain completed over 1,000 passes when they played against Russia, but managed to get as many goals as the host nation – one.
La Furia Roja were unable to do anything to break down the Russia defence. They took the lead early in the first half thanks to an own goal and from then, they sat back and just held on to the ball.
There was no intent from the Spaniards to score another goal and seal the game. They were confident and that Russia would not be able to break their defence and score a goal. All that hope was shattered when Pique decided to join the crowd the do the Mexican Wave inside the box.
The ball hit his hand and Russia were awarded a penalty. Artem Dzyuba converted with ease and Spain were back to square one. It was clear from kickoff that the host nation had one plan – sit back and counter when possible.
The game went to extra time and still, there was nothing both teams could do in front of goal. It eventually went to penalties and Igor Akinfeev saved two of them – one from Koke and the last one from Aspas.
Here are three reasons Spain got knocked out:
#1 Bringing on Rodrigo too late
When things were not going their way, Spain should have thought differently. They brought on Iniesta, Carvajal and Aspas as substitutes in the first 90 minutes and only decided to bring on Rodrigo in extra time.
In his 15-minute appearance, the Valencia striker did a lot more than what Aspas did after coming on in the 80th minute. Had Hierro decided to bring Rodrigo instead of Aspas, things might have ended differently.
The 27-year-old created a crazy chance for himself and almost scored. Had to not been for Igor Akinfeev’s brilliant save, it would have been 2-1 to Spain and the 2010 champions would have been on their way to the quarter-finals instead of Madrid.
#2 Not using Diego Costa properly
Diego Costa had the best seat in the house today. His team might have lost but he had the best view of every pass and every move.
Jordi Alba and Nacho Fernandez were not sending in crossed to use Costa’s ariel abilities. Even when Dani Carvajal came on, he did not send in a single cross. There was nothing Costs could do to help his team and that meant Spain were basically playing with 10-men for the majority of the game.
He was eventually taken off for Iago Aspas and the former Liverpool player did nothing significant either.
A cross was finally put in and it flew a foot about Aspas’ head!
#3 No ‘Plan B’
For 120 minutes, Spain had only one thing in mind – pass their way around the Russia defence. There was nothing else they were trying. No intercepting passes and no shooting from long range.
It was all about keeping the ball and trying to get past the 10 man Russia defence. When things were not going their way, they didn’t bother switching positions, crossing the ball in and not even chipping the ball over the defence.
Commentary by Sportskeeda