By Paul Giblin MOSCOW (Xinhua) --
Veteran Russian defender Serguei Ignashevich
believes his side’s best chance of beating Spain in their last
16 tie on July 1 is to try and take advantage of Spain’s poor
defending in the current World Cup.
David de Gea has been at the center of criticism of a Spanish
side that has conceded five goals in their group matches and
defenders Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal have both looked to be
below their best.
Russia lost their
last group game 3-0 to Uruguay and that defeat means they will
face Spain in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow with 81,000 fans
getting behind them. “We will take advantage of the weakness
Spain showed in the first stage,” Ignashevich said. “Spain
defended very high up the pitch and left spaces. Morocco were
able to exploit that (in a 2-2 draw) and I hope we can do as
well,” he said from the Russian training center close to Moscow.
that although it was hard to say Spain had any star players;
they “play as a team.”
“Diego Costa isn’t
their only threat, all of their forwards are dangerous: when he
is tired, Rodrigo comes on and also Aspas, who is different from
the other two. That makes our job much more difficult because
you can’t get used to one style of play,” the 38-year-old said.
gave his support to the controversial VAR system in use in
Russia, saying that both defenders and attackers have to be more
careful with the new system in place.
Japan looking to make the ball
do the running in heat of Volgograd Arena
By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- The coach of the Japanese national
team, Akira Nishino wants his players to make the ball do the
work when they play Poland in the Volgograd Arena in their final
Group H game in the 2018 World Cup.
A draw for Japan
against a Polish side with nothing to play for would be enough
to make them the only Asian side in the last 16 of the World Cup
for the second time in eight years, but with the game scheduled
to kick off at 5pm local time, temperatures of over 30 degrees
centigrade and high humidity are likely to be important factors.
“When I landed on
Tuesday, I was surprised at how humid it was, but I don’t think
the team’s conditions is going to be affected much by that,”
Nishino said in his pre-game press conference on Wednesday.
The Japan coach said
he would assess the fitness of his squad in training, but added
they were not tired after a 2-1 win against Colombia and a 2-2
draw with Senegal.
competition sides tend to cover 110 or 120 km... Here we will
have to coordinate our moves and not waste energy.”
“The ball doesn’t
get tired, so we will have to use it as effectively as
possible,” he commented.
Nishino said the
fact Poland were only playing for pride did not make them less
“There is no such
thing as an easy game I am sure Poland will want to play for
pride and (Robert) Lewandowski will come out looking to score a
goal... We don’t think Poland will be easy rivals, they
qualified from a tough group,” he insisted.
“We want to keep
hold of the ball and continue with our Japanese style of
football. We want to continue, so we will move the ball, move
ourselves and look to attack at speed,” he concluded.
Japan looking to
maintain Asian presence at 2018 World Cup
By Paul Giblin VOLGODRAD Russia (Xinhua)
-- Japan will be the only Asian side
to qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup finals if they take
a point from Poland in the Volgograd Arena on Thursday
If they succeed they
will be the first Asian team to reach the second stage of the
tournament since they did so in 2010 in South Africa.
Japan are the only
Asian side to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup finals
since they and South Korea did so when they hosted the
tournament in 2002.
Japan have impressed
so far in Russia with a 2-1 win over Colombia and a 2-2 draw in
an entertaining match against Senegal.
They will be
favorites against Poland, who have lost their two matches and
have no chance of reaching the last 16. “Although we earned four
points in two matches, we haven’t accomplished anything yet. The
next match will be the deciding match. We must go into the game
with the aim of getting all three points and [focusing] our
performance,” Japan captain, Makoto Hasebe said.
Hasebe insists it
would be dangerous for Japan to be over-confident against the
Poles. “I don’t think we can go into the game looking for a
draw,” he said, explaining that a win would help continue their
momentum for a last-16 tie against Belgium or England.
Japan have only
played Poland twice in the last 22 years, beating them 5-0 in
February 1996 and 2-0 in March 2002, but they will be wary of
the fact they have failed to score in four of their last World
Cup games against European opposition. The last time they scored
against European opponents was in a 3-1 win over Denmark in
winger, Kamil Grosiki admits their time in Russia has been a
struggle, but they must try and recover some pride in their
final game after losing 2-1 to Senegal, before being totally
outplayed by the Colombians.
“We couldn’t even
get the ball off Colombia, never mind counter against them.
We’ve disappointed everyone, including ourselves. We came here
with high hopes and huge dreams. Now we’re playing the last
match just for honor,” Grosiki said.