Russian Federation goalkeeper says he knew what to expect from Spain's penalty shots

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Sid Lowe and the FC crew conduct a deep dive into Spain's World Cup exit and call Fernando Hierro's tactics into question after the defeat to Russian Federation.

Akinfeev used his trailing left foot to kick the ball high away from the goal on Spain's last attempt.

Russians danced in the streets of Kaliningrad on the Baltic and kissed strangers in Vladivostok in the Far East after their team defied all expectations to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. Gerard Pique, blamed by many back home for the handball that led to Russia's equalizer in regulation, said before the tournament he wouldn't return to the national team. However, Lopetegui was shown the door two days before their opening match following his decision to accept Real Madrid's offer of becoming their new manager after the tournament without informing the national FA. "Over the whole second half and extra time we were defending our goal and managed it, we were hoping for penalties because Spain are hard to beat". "Spain can't always be lucky".

July 3 2018 Russia's goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev during training. "We've given everyone a party and we believed in ourselves to the end".

"We're hosting a fantastic tournament", Akinfeev said. "We left our soul in the pitch".

Sitting alongside was Manchester City midfielder David Silva, a mainstay of Spain's sweet-passing sides for over a decade, but now the subject of mounting criticism, so much so that dropping him may be one of Hierro's first big calls as coach.

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But they won't have numerous veterans to help them, as Iniesta officially retired from the national team and many others are unlikely to be back for the next World Cup.

The diminutive maestro departed boyhood club Barcelona at the close of last season, moving to Japanese side Vissel Kobe on a lucrative three-year deal.

Schmichel and his counterpart Danijel Subasic stole the show as the match moved to penalties.

More than 74 percent possession, an astonishing 1,137 passes and utter territorial domination, yet the only statistic that counted in the end for Spain was the two penalties they missed after they strangled themselves out of the World Cup on Sunday.

With 35 minutes on the clock Spain had made 300 passes to the 63 of Russian Federation but had not mustered a single effort on target and led only through Sergei Ignashevich's comical own goal. Artem Dzyuba stepped up and set De Gea the wrong way to tap the ball into the net for the equalizer. The king is a soccer fan who, as crown prince, attended the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg to see Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time.

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