It was simply flabbergasting. The defeat of Spain by Russia was both surprising and somewhat well-deserved. The Spanish media has been quite lambasting of the team all throughout the competition, spotting breaches in their play. Turns out that the media was not purposelessly mean, but it had rather found out the initial stages of a disaster waiting to happen.
And so disaster did happen when Spain played Russia yesterday. For the world of me, I expected Diego Costa and Pique to perform much better, but hardly any advances were made on the door, with Spain tip-toeing around the fringes of Russia’s defence. Even the score Spain managed was an auto-goal, which detracted some of its value.
Then Pique’s hand got caught by a ball that was coming behind him and led to a penalty score, which put the score at 1:1. What followed was exhausting plays. As if the regular time was not enough, but another 30 minutes had to be added with footballers visibly exhausted. After much of the same, we saw what Russia had hoped for all along – penalty shots. It was definitely easier for them to seal the deal this way, and they did. Russia qualified for the quarter-final with Spain going back home.
What led to it?
Why did Spain lose? What I saw was a team that wasn’t really focused and didn’t know how to handle an attack. Flaws surfaced in the very first minutes as well. We saw Spain fail a number of passes, even though they were doing three times more passes overall. Still, the uncertain game and overall purposelessness led to a situation where Spain was not doing much.
Diego Costa definitely didn’t shine as he had very few opportunities to do anything this match. Pique, criticised as he might have been, did not “fail” as much as the media would have wanted him to. In my opinion, he played well, intervening with Russian attacks as often as he had to. Not only that, but Spain only did around five dangerous mistakes, i.e. Russia had only five good situations to score, and even then, it was contested.
Spain, though, did not have many goal opportunities. They continued to play statically, but also continue to struggle against the taller Russians who managed to get every ball flying in from a corner shot, leaving very little for the Spaniards to do.
If we have to be perfectly honest, though, what has led to this moment is a simple fact that Spain was simply not prepared to be a world champion this time.
Brazil vs Mexico and Japan vs Belgium
Mexico and Brazil are facing off today in what will appear to be a fast-paced football action. What do you think are the chances of both teams? Mexico achieved an easy win over Germany, but then again Germany really did perform rather poorly.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s games were all victorious, but their team seems to be always scoring in the last minutes. Brush such concerns aside, and you will have a team that is well-poised to snatch the world cup title remorselessly.
Mexico may have had an easier run up against Germany, but the footballers were nimble and committed throughout the entire duration of the game, which made them, let’s face it – outstanding and committed chaps in their own right. Not only that, but Mexico has shown the quick-pacedness of gameplay that sets all good teams apart.
This will come in handy because Brazil plays really quick.
Japan and Belgium
Disciplined as they are, Japan’s chances of actually winning here are rather slim. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that they won’t be able to score, because the majority of the time the ball is in the centre of the field.
Belgium is the underdog and now they face serious heat from Uruguay, but the game up against Japan shouldn’t be as challenging. If they manage to defeat Japan, which I have a suspicion they will, they will be going to the next stage of the competition.
I still root for Japan as I find them to be one of the best disciplined, polite, and kind teams on the World Cup field as of this moment, and I do appreciate this.