Spain's midfielder Koke (C) controls the ball during a training session at Krasnodar Academy on June 17, AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
Spain's midfielder Koke (C) controls the ball during a training session at Krasnodar Academy on June 17, AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

Kazan : Spanish playmaker Isco say Wednesday’s match against Iran will determine their World Cup destiny as they seek to register their first win in Russia following a gripping 3-3 draw against Portugal.

Champions in 2010 and among the favourites this year, Spain’s World Cup ambitions were kept in check, almost single-handedly, by a stunning Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.

The draw came just two days after Spain’s campaign was thrown into disarray by the shock sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui following an untimely announcement by Real Madrid that he would join the 13-times European champions after the tournament.

Fernando Hierro, Spain’s sporting director, is now at the helm but barely a week into the tournament La Roja — expected to join Brazil, Germany and France in the latter stages — have endured more drama than they would have wanted or expected. “It’s a crucial match that will determine our World Cup destiny,” said Isco.

“We want to score from the opening minute, even though that won’t be easy. We will stick to the style that defines us as a team, but we have to pass the ball around a lot more. If we play quickly across the pitch, the chances will come.”

Iran kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win against Morocco, thanks to a late own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz, piling the pressure on Spain at Kazan Arena on Wednesday. Iran sit top of the pile as the only Group ‘B’ team with a win so far, an achievement that sparked incredible celebrations in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere throughout the Islamic republic.

Coach Carlos Queiroz concedes Iran now face one of the biggest challenges in their World Cup history, but maintains they can “make the impossible possible”. “If the game against Morocco was the World Cup final for us, the game against Spain will be the Universe Cup final.”

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