The Caspian region will be represented in the 16th round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup by Russia, after Iran’s national team was eliminated in the group stage matches played this week.
Despite Russia’s loss in the third group stage match against Uruguay on June 25, which ended 0-3, wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt have helped the 2018 World Cup host nation team to qualify for playoffs as the Group A runner-up. Russia’s rival at the knock out stage will be one of the world’s strongest teams, namely Spain, which made it through as a Group B leader. The match will take place at Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.
In the event of winning the knock-out match over Spain and proceeding to the quarterfinals, Russia will play against either Croatia or Denmark, which will decide the Round of 16 winners, in Nizhny Novgorod stadium on Sunday.
For its part, the other Caspian country that made it to the World Cup, namely Iran, has been eliminated. Iran’s victory over Morocco on June 16 was short-lived, as “Team Melli” (meaning “national team” in Farsi) was defeated by Spain in its second match and a draw with Portugal in its last match on Monday blocked its plan to reach the playoffs. Iran ended its 2018 World Cup hopes standing at number three in Group B, where Spain and Portugal secured their spots in the Round of 16. Despite Iran’s failure to proceed further, this year was its best showing in World Cup games since 1978.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is being played in 11 cities across Russia, as far west as Kaliningrad and as far east as Yekaterinburg, in the central part of the country.