Source – Sporting News
Wow! Just wow! What a World Cup this is turning out to be for the Underdogs!
This is turning out to be the World Cup of upsets. First major upset being the defending champions, Germany, not even qualifying for the knockouts, then Lionel Messi’s Argentina sort of had it coming sooner than later, but they also got knocked out by a young and energetic French team, the same night Cristiano Ronaldo’s, another Ballon D’or winner since past 10 years, Portugal team bow out to a resolute Uruguayan side.
But the best was yet to come.
Before the tournament began, Russian team was written off even before they kicked a ball. Some even speculated that they are lucky to host the World Cup and play in it as an automatic qualified team. Otherwise they wouldn’t had even made it until the World Cup finals.
After the tournament began, the world sat up and took notice as Russia put five goals past Salah less Egyptian side without any reply. They were even more impressive against Saudi Arabia to win it comfortably and rested their star performers so far against a defeat to Uruguay in the final group stage match as the qualification was already secured. But that one defeat meant Russia now had to play against Spain in the Round of 16.
With the defending champions, Germany and two other heavyweights going home early, the onus was on Spain to win against Russia and truly start their campaign.
But oh my! Who would have thought a 32 years old goalkeeper, a 38 years old defender, and an average age of 32 years old defense would hold off a world renowned Spanish attack for whole 120 minutes of play.
Russia knew the only way they can win against Spain was via penalty shootouts. But there was an impossible hurdle of holding their attack at bay for 120 minutes. Russian team’s heart even sank more deeper after they conceded an own goal after just 12 minutes on the clock.
Source – talkSPORT
It was an uphill task for Russia but thanks to a moment of madness by Gerard Pique who decided to play Basketball in his own penalty box despite knowing the presence of VAR in this World Cup, Russia were awarded a penalty much to the delight of all the home crowd. Artem Dzyuba coolly drilled it past a hapless David De Gea, who was yet to impress and justify his best keeper tag in this World Cup.
Source – Moneycontrol
With the scores level before the first half, Russia now had to hold onto this for another 75 minutes against a barrage of Spanish attack. They did exactly that and took the match onto penalty shootout. The rest is history!
This means at least one of the following teams: Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia and England would be playing the World Cup final on 15th July.
The World Cup of Underdogs? So true!