The 2018 FIFA World Cup starts today with the first match starting at 20:30 IST between Russia and Saudi Arabia. With the excitement rising let’s look back at why Russia was selected and how ready the Russian team is to face the challenge.
Soon after the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Russia and England were fighting for a chance at being the hosts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Everything was going in England’s favour as Russia not only did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup but also had a very bad presentation during the bidding. However, things soon changed when BBC accused three FIFA British ExCo members of taking millions of dollars in bribe. This paved the way for Russia being chosen as the venue for the 2018 World Cup.
There are 12 venues in which matches will be played, they include:
- Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow which is largest stadium with a capacity of 80,000 seats. This is where the opening match, a semi-final and finals will be held.
- Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg which has a capacity of 67,000 seats.
- Fisht Stadium, Sochi which has a capacity of 48,000 seats.
- Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg which has a capacity of 45,000 seats.
- Kazan Arena, Kazan which has a capacity of 45,000 seats
- Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod which has a capacity of 45,000 seats
- Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don which also has a capacity of 45,000 seats.
- Samara Arena, Samara which also can hold 45,000 people.
- Mordovia Arena, Saransk which is capable of holding 45,000 people
- Volgograd Stadium, Volgograd which also has a capacity of 45,000 seats.
- Spartak Stadium, Moscow which has a capacity of 42,000 seats.
- Lastly, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad which has a capacity of 35,212 seats.
The venues are spread all across Russia with bookings for the match tickets still open now, though most of them will be sold out now.
The Russian team though is in quite a pickle as they stand at all-time low at rank 70. This could affect their chances of qualifying into the round of 16. The Russian team hasn’t being performing up to the expectations of their fans as they have scored only two goals in four friendlies this year. The Russian player to look for would be Fyodor Smolov who has scored 52 goals in three seasons for his club Krasnodar.
There are also generally mixed reviews about Russia hosting the World Cup after its controversy at the Winter Olympics at Sochi in 2014 wherein they purposely swapped urine samples of their players to make them pass the drug test. Russia has been banned for participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Russia will be looking to proving the haters wrong by at least qualifying for the round of 16 and also hosting the event without any problems. Russia will also be looking at the success of its opening ceremony as that would determine how the world would view the hosts as the World Cup moves further.
The first time debut teams are Iceland and Panama so watch out for them. All-time favourites and 2014 FIFA World Cup winners Germany would also be trying to hold their ground this world cup. Brazil and Argentina would also be looking for a comeback after their respective semi-final and final defeat last world cup. Here’s hoping we all will get to see one of the toughest and most entertaining world cups this year.