Football is a team game and yet sometimes it is individuals that shape the destiny of a game. Such was the case in the Round of 16 match-up between Russia and Spain. It was a promising game in which Spain held the possession for most of the time and still ended up losing 4-3 on penalties, Largely thanks to two heroic saves in the shoot-out from Igor Akinfeev.
32-year-old Igor Akinfeev has written down his name in the History of Football in Russia and has helped Russia qualify for the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1970. The CSKA Moskov player, who is also the captain of the national side – pulled off two important saves during the penalty shoot-out.
Igor Akinfeev was once rated as one of the future best GKs back in the day. He was often linked with transfers to Europe’s elite clubs and tipped to surpass legendary Lev Yashin as Russia’s finest GK.
However, things started going down for Akinfeev as Russia failed to qualify both previous World Cups and the Russia GK could never finalize a transfer out of CSKA Moscow. A lot of pundits played down talks of comparing Akinfeev with Yashin despite the current Russian GK having made 669 club appearances in total – eclipsing Yashin in this aspect. His form on the domestic level has been a massive support in making CSKA Moscow title contenders in the Russian League.
“Years ago, I said he could end up being the world number one. Yes, he always made little mistakes, but I think he still has time to write his name into history,” former Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said about Igor Akinfeev when asked about Akinfeev’s chances in the FIFA World Cup 2018.
When the whistle blew in regular time in their last game, the battle between David De Gea – who is considered by most as the World’s finest goalkeeper of today’s generation – and Igor Akinfeev – A forgotten cause. The fact is that David De Gea trains hard – plays in the Champions League for Manchester United and has experience in penalty shootout at the club level. on the other hand, Igor Akinfeev has never had experience of Penalty Shootout in the biggest stage in his professional career. The odds were all against him, and yet he defied the odds to prove himself, yet again.
Whatever happens in the World Cup – Igor Akinfeev surely deserves respect and recognition for all his hard work he as put through in the years for CSKA Moscow and Russia.
Russia are to play Croatia in the Quarterfinals of the tournament and will be looking to reach the semifinals especially after their heroic display against Spain. They think anything is possible and with the whole nation behind their back, it might as well be.
Igor Akinfeev and co.
will have more to prove in the upcoming game at Fisht Stadium on 07/07. All eyes will be them but they enter the games as underdogs – as Modrić and Croatia are in scintillating form as of late.
Let us know your thoughts on Akinfeev’s Russia and their chances in the next game.