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Spain's defeat clears path for fresh face in final

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Spain's defeat clears path for fresh face in final

Spain's defeat clears path for fresh face in final
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Spain's dramatic defeat by Russia on penalties in the World Cup round of 16 on Sunday ensured that at least one of this year's finalists will not have reached the title decider for half a century, if at all.

Former finalists England, who played their one final when they won the title in 1966, and Sweden, who lost to Brazil on home soil in the 1958 final, are still in the half of the draw vacated by the 2010 champions after their loss to the hosts.

The odds on England winning the World Cup for a second time were immediately cut from 6-1 to 5-1 after Russia's victory, making them third favourites behind France (7-2) and Brazil (4-1) with bookmaker William Hill. 

Also still alive in their section of the draw are Croatia and Denmark, who face off in Nizhny Novgorod later on Sunday and have previously done no better than a single semi-final and quarter-final appearance respectively.

Russia will face the winners of that match, hoping to continue to benefit from the hosts' dividend to better the single semi-final appearance that the Soviet Union achieved in 1966.

Switzerland, who have never done better than the spot in the last eight they achieved as hosts in 1954, take on the Swedes on Tuesday in St Petersburg with the winners going on to face England or Colombia.

Colombia, whose best finish was their run to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago, take on the English in the last round-of-16 match later the same night in Moscow.

The last addition to the elite group of 12 nations who have contested World Cup finals was France when they won the title for the first time in Paris in 1998.

The French beat Argentina to reach the quarter-finals on Saturday and are in the other half of the draw with fellow former champions Brazil and Uruguay, the three nations having competed in 11 finals between them.

Leading odds on winners of 2018 World Cup:

7-2 France

4-1 Brazil

5-1 England

6-1 Croatia, Belgium 

14-1 Uruguay

20-1 Colombia, Russia

33-1 Bar

(Source: William Hill)

(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Kazan, editing by Clare Fallon)

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