"They are replacements. There are good players and it's important we return to the way which gave us so much success".
The hosts Russian Federation took the game against the 2010 world champions into extra-time and then penalties, where they won 4-3 with the help of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, whose winning save can be seen here. During the next weeks we'll make a decision. Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the government's council on the preparations for and holding of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Vitaly Mutko has thanked all who believed in Team Russia's win over Spain in their Round of 16 match. "The coach takes decisions whether you agree with them or not", he said.
They progressed from their group through victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, then held Spain to 1-1 after extra-time, prevailing 4-3 in the shootout.
The idea that Spain, boasting a squad bursting with winners at club and worldwide level, could be sent home by the lowest-ranked team in the tournament would have sounded preposterous just a month ago, but as the minutes ticked by at the Luzhniki stadium it seemed ever more likely.
"It's a reality that this is my last game with the national team, on a wonderful stage", said Iniesta, a member of the 2010 World Cup winning Spanish squad. "And the fact that there is interest in us is quite inspiring", he said. Hierro, who had been Spain's director of football, was given the coaching job on an interim basis. Referees and video officials have consistently penalized handballs in the box at this World Cup. "Now we need to share this hard moment".
LeBron James, LA Lakers agree to four-year, $154 million deal
Lakers great Kobe Bryant showed support for James' decision in a tweet , saying "Welcome to the family". James joins a Lakers team with some young talent, including Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma .
"Like all Spaniards, we had high hopes and dreams and we are sad that we couldn't do it for the millions of people who were following the game back home", he said.
"I think I've been lucky to be able to experience one of the best periods of Spanish football, with a generation of players that have been and are exceptional in every sense of the word".
There will be plenty of time for the Spaniards to figure out how to start regrouping following yet another early elimination at a major tournament.