Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Russia vs Saudi Arabia - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 14, 2018 Russia fan with body paint before the match

Russia's Team 'Not Afraid' of World Cup Round of 16 Rivals Spain - Midfielder

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NOVOGORSK (Sputnik) - Zenit and Russia midfielder Aleksandr Yerokhin said on Friday that his side was "not afraid" of Spain, their FIFA World Cup round of 16 rivals.

Russia are currently preparing for their round of 16 match against Group B winners Spain that will be played at Moscow's 78,000-seater Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.

"We are not afraid of Spain. We faced them not so long ago, we are preparing, we feel strong. We focus on the opponents' strengths, we are getting ready for the match in terms of our tactics," Yerokhin told journalists.

The 28-year-old, who missed several training sessions due to a minor foot problem, said that he had recovered and was ready for the game.

Russia will be playing in the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time, after failing to qualify from the group in their three previous attempts.

READ MORE: Russia Holds Full-Squad Training Session Ahead of Spain Match (VIDEO)

Speaking about the upcoming encounter with Spain, Russia forward Artem Dzyuba stated that the World Cup hosts Russia "did the minimum" by advancing to the knockout stage of the tournament.

"I can’t say that we are being praised, we've just achieved the minimum [advancing to the knockout stage]. The things got better [than before the tournament], we made a leap forward. We want to make a little miracle happen," Dzyuba told journalists.

Russia finished second in Group A, after defeating Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but losing 3-0 to Uruguay in their final group stage match.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo, Spain Controversy: Twitter Storm Erupts Over VAR Decisions

Spain beat Iran and drew with both Morocco and Portugal, finishing first in their group with a total of five points.

"We should simply go onto the pitch and show the maximum [effort]. We are preparing, our thoughts are to play with dignity and show the result. This is the main game for everyone in our team. A match like this may never happen again," Dzyuba said.

A similar position has been voiced by Vice President of the Russian Football Union Sergey Anokhin, who stated that Russia would "fight to the death" in their upcoming encounter with Spain.

"I know that the guys are highly motivated ahead of the Spain match… They said they would be fighting to death… The main goal is to win… I very much hope for a good result, I scarcely doubt [Russia's] victory. The training staff have elaborated a plan for the game, the players will come out on the pitch with dedication, everything will be fine," Anokhin told journalists.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on June 14 and will continue until July 15, with the matches being played in 11 cities across Russia.

football, 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia, Spain
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