Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Russia's Samedov trains alone ahead of Croatia match

Russia's Samedov trains alone ahead of Croatia match

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the government's council on the preparations for and holding of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Vitaly Mutko has thanked all who believed in Team Russia's win over Spain in their Round of 16 match.

The odds on England winning the World Cup for a second time were cut after Russia's victory, making them third favourites behind France and Brazil.

It all looked good for Spain entering the tournament, with coach Julen Lopetegui leading the team on a 20-match unbeaten streak and turning La Roja into one of the main title favorites. Penalties are cruel. "The main culprits are always the players, so from there we all have our responsibilities, although it's hard to draw conclusions from this game".

Curbing the attacking instincts of his side, the coach's 3-5-2 formation provided Russian Federation with extra cushioning in the midfield, which stopped Spain from carving out chances despite controlling the majority of the game.

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"I don't regret the decision taken with Lopetegui because it was done with conviction and values that aren't influenced by subsequent results", he said in quotes reported by the Spanish press. "It had to be made".

Despite 75 percent possession and more than 1,000 passes, Spain's famed tiki-taka got them nowhere and they had to wait until the 85th minute to test Akinfeev with a low drive from substitute Andres Iniesta.

But to the national media, this latest fiasco was all too familiar.

"I'm proud and have nothing negative to say to the whole group that has been in Russia, Hierro and all his team, the players, the coaching staff, all those who have been here". "We feel frustrated. Not always the best team is the one that advances".

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Edinson Cavani scored twice and Cristiano Ronaldo none, giving Uruguay a 2-1 victory over Portugal on Saturday at the World Cup . Brazil are in for a tough battle against Mexico , with the victor of their last-16 tie set to play either Belgium or Japan .


"I haven't regretted that decision or any other, because they are decisions made with responsibility, conviction and values, and it was not a sporting decision", the federation president said. If he does make a change, will he go with the experience of a veteran or someone with fresh ideas?

"We lost our leader", said the midfielder after the game.

Ramos also backed coach Fernando Hierro, who is not expected to continue as coach ahead of the UEFA Nations League.

Among the candidates rumored for the position was former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.

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Brazil will be favorites to advance, but Mexico have already shocked the world once this tournament and should not be counted out. Felipe Luis is expected to start in place of Marcelo after Marcelo was forced off against Serbia because of a back spasm.


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