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FIFA World Cup 2018, Round of 16: FPJ’s dream XI predictions for Spain vs Russia

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AFP PHOTO / Luis Acosta

Spain have not lost a match since Euro 2016, although they have looked far from convincing after the chaos that saw coach Julen Lopetegui sacked before their FIFA 2018 first game. They will now play against host Russia in the Round of 16. The last competitive match between them saw the Spaniards prevail 3-0 in the semi-finals of Euro 2008. Spain have not lost a match in two years while Russia entered the tournament without winning a game in eight months. Here we see the probable dream XI for the Spaniards:

Spain: David de Gea, Dani Carvajal, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcântara, David Silva, Isco, Andrés Iniesta, Diego Costa

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Russian’s are making their first appearance in the FIFA World Cup knockout stages in the post-Soviet era as the ultimate underdogs. Hosts must rebound quickly for last 16 clash, the 2010 champions who have slipped under the radar after a tumultuous start to the tournament. Resounding wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt elevated expectations for Russian side before they were dealt a dose of reality in a 0-3 loss to Uruguay. While Russia arrived at the finals win-less in eight months before finding some badly-needed form, one of their better results in that period came in a 3-3 draw with Spain last November. Here are the probable dream XI for the hosts:

Russia: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Igor Akinfeev, Mário Figueira Fernandes, Sergey IGNASHEVICH, Ilya Kutepov, Yury Zhirkov, Yury Gazinsky, Roman Zobnin, Alexander Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksandr Erokhin, Artem Dzyuba,