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Spain 3 Russia 0: Spain Slays Andrei the Giant

Posted 06-29-2008 at 02:26 AM by Striker X
Andrei Arshavin was supposed to make the difference.

Spain had shellacked Russia in each team's first match 4-1. But that game was without Arshavin who was suspended for his action in the last game of qualifying. When he returned, Arshavin was a gamechanger, leading Russia past Sweden and heavily favored Holland.

Unfortunately someone forgot to tell him to show up.

Spain, on the otherhand, was determined not to take the Russians lightly and dominated the game from opening to final whistle, winning 3-0.

Spain relentlessly attacked the Russian goal, scarcly letting the former Soviets touch the ball. Even the loss of their best player could not slow them down. David Villa tweaked his leg on a free kick in the first half and was replaced by Fabregas, who kept the Spanish attack running on schedule.

In the first half the Spainards ran the Russians into submission, and in the second they closed the deal. Their first goal was luck with Andre Iniesta's off-target shot hitting Xavi Hernandez midstride who powered the ball through the Russian goalkeeper in the 50th minute.

The goal deflated an already stagnant Russian attack. Fabregas put the once proud team out of their misery by assisting on two goals late in the game, one to Guiza in the 73rd minute and one to David Silva (82').

The real story of the match though was how Spain shut down three of the best playmakers of Euro 2008. Andrei Arshavin was tired and lackadasical, heavily marked by 1-3 players, and could manage only weak attempts to play the ball into open space. Attacking outside back Yuri Zhirkov had made life miserable for opposing teams throughout the tournament, but was thouroughly outplayed at his own game by Sergio Ramos. The Spanish defender seemed to move past the Russian at will, while completely frustrating him on the other end 6 times.

With no one to give him proper service forward Roman Pavlyuchenko was ineffective. The Russian forward led the tournament going in with 17 shots, but could only manage 3 against the Spainards.

The only Russian hero was goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev who faced more dead-on shots than a fish in a barrel. He managed 7 saves in addition to 6 other clearances from the penalty area. He deserved only partial blame for opening goal.

With the last Cinderella gone, Euro 2008 is down to two favorites: the deadly efficiency of Germany versus the beautiful attacks of Spain. It should be a great game to watch.
Posted in Euro 2008
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