Football

'Death By 1,000 Passes' - Spain Infuriate Fans With Incessant Passing

'Death By 1,000 Passes' - Spain Infuriate Fans With Incessant Passing

Somewhere in the second-half of extra-time, Spain broke the 1,000 mark for passes attempted. That 90% or so of them were on target, in a game that finished 1-1 after 120 minutes, tells you something of the timidity with which they were carried out.

Looking perhaps like a team that parted with their manager on the eve of the World Cup, those who took in the entirety of Spain's last-16 clash with Russia were left largely bemused.

In the end, their best efforts took them all the way to penalties, where, amidst very little sympathy from those who'd watch them get this far, they promptly lost.

Having patiently (painstakingly so) tried to break Russia down with a series of short, sharp passes, the rhythm became unbearable for those watching.

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Having taken a 1-0 lead early on through a fortuitous own-goal, Spain relinquished their hold on the scoreline when Barcelona's Gerard Pique conceded a penalty for a scarcely believable handball.

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From here, Spain huffed and puffed but never truly came close to pulling ahead once again. Instead, they proceeded to pass, and pass, and pass some more - getting nowhere in the process.

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One pundit who professed to be equally interested in what he had seen was RTÉ's Damien Duff. A noted fan of their playing-style, the turgidity with which they carried out their task didn't seem to bother him. The resulting penalty shoot-out did offer some much-needed relief at least.

In the end, Russia will progress to the World Cup quarter-final where they will meet the winners of tonight's last-16 clash between Croatia and Denmark.

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Arthur James O'Dea

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