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End of an Era as Spain Eliminated from World Cup

The second shock of the 2018 World Cup occurred on Sunday, as Spain were eliminated by the hosts, Russia.

After Germany failed to progress from their group, the tournament became about what the less prestigious football nations could do.

The reigning and previous champions have now been knocked out, representing a changing of the guard with regards to tactics.

Both Spain and Germany built footballing dynasties based on possession football. They played with a style that awed the world and delivered trophies on a regular basis. At this World Cup, however, they showed themselves to be behind the times.

Against Russia, Spain had 79% possession throughout the game, including 30 minutes of extra time. In spite of this, they couldn’t break the Russian defense down, bar a fortunate set-piece goal in the first half.


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Spain passed the ball around to no avail against an organized, athletic and determined Russia team.

Once Russia equalized, they didn’t look worried about the threat of Iniesta, Isco and co. Once they set into their shape, they simply let Spain knock the ball around and hit them on the counter. The threat from Spain didn’t change and Russia simply blocked them for the whole game.

Despite a performance that ended up being flat, Spain took the lead early in the game. A corner in the 12th minute saw the ball curl towards the far post.

Sergio Ramos and Sergei Ignashevich were grappling, and the ball deflected off Ignashevich into the net as both players hit the ground.

After being gifted that goal, Spain would have expected to be able to close the game out. They didn’t get it all their own way, though, and they conceded a penalty in the 41st minute.

Gerard Piqué was penalised for a handball in the box, and Artem Dzyuba converted the spot kick to equalize.

What followed was over an hour of one dimensional passing football from Spain, who looked shorn of ideas.

The game was decided on penalties. Thanks to an Iago Aspas miss, Russia progress to the quarter finals, beating spain 4 – 3 on penalties.

They will face Croatia, who also needed penalties to get past Denmark in the round of 16.

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