#Russia2018 in Pictures

Clairvoyant cats, Robbie Williams flips the bird and Russia fires in World Cup opener

By Antoinette Muller 14 June 2018

Denis Cheryshev of Russia in action during to the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/FELIPE TRUEBA

Flags, fans and fading pop stars. A World Cup must have started.

Compiled by ANTOINETTE MULLER, photos by EPA.

It’s not an opening day of a World Cup if you can’t get excited about the fans and soccer-themed sculptures.

Fans of Russia arrive to the stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV
Colombian fans gather in central Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. Russia faces Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018, the group A preliminary round soccer match on 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

Has anyone done market research on the rise in sales of face paint during big sporting tournaments?

Fans of Saudi Arabia arrive to the stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Stick this instrument in your vuvuzela and blow it, South Africa.

Mexican fans gather in central Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. Russia faces Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018, the group A preliminary round soccer match on 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA
Egyptian fans cheer in Ekaterinburg, Russia, 14 June 2018. The FIFA World Cup 2018 takes place in Russia from 14 June until 15 July 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG
Russian workers make last adjustments at a floral decorative arrangement depicting a soccer shoe and a ball in front of the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, 14 June 2018. The FIFA World Cup 2018 takes place in Russia from 14 June until 15 July 2018. EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT

Models and former players basically form part of the bid when countries put their names forward as interested hosts.

Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas (L) and Russian model Natalia Vodianova present the World Cup trophy prior to the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TERKENAREH

Keeping with the recent tradition of oracles in the form of animals, Russia opted for a distressed feline due to the popularity of cats on the internet.

The Hermitage cat Achilles dons a jersey after predicting the winner of the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the House of Journalists in St. Petersburg, Russia, 13 June 2018. EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

Disappointingly, Robbie Williams didn’t play his “hit” song Party Like a Russian. You know, the one that outraged the entire country whose World Cup he opened. He did belt out: “Not sure I understand this role I’ve been given,” though. Neither do we, Robbie, neither do we.

Robbie Williams performs during the opening ceremony prior to the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018.

To the man’s credit, he did manage to flip the bird on live television in front of the entire world and with Vladimir Putin watching on.

Robbie Williams. Photo: Screenshot / Twitter

But on to the actual soccer. Yury Gazinsky netted the opening goal of the tournament for Russia, just 13 minutes in.

Yury Gazinsky (R) of Russia celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018.

And then Alan Dzagoev limped off with a hamstring going twang.

Alan Dzagoev (L) of Russia receives medical assistance before being substituted due to an injury during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018.
EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

Denis Cheryshev made it two for the hosts just before the break.

Denis Cheryshev (C) of Russia scores the 2-0 lead against Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf (R) during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

By the time South Africans realized that load shedding was back, Artem Dzyuba had made it three.

Artem Dzyuba of Russia (2R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the 3-0 during to the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/FELIPE TRUEBA

The hosts found the back of the net twice in stoppage time with Cheryshev adding his second through a screamer of a kick while Aleksandr Golovin piled the misery on Saudi Arabia, who lost 5-0.

Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf (R) concedes Russia’s 4-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Russia, 14 June 2018. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

Meanwhile, Spain are carrying on as usual despite doing something that ranks as “usually reserved for African teams” on the barmy scale. La Roja play Portugal in their opening fixture.

Spain’s new national soccer team coach Fernando Hierro (L) leads a training session in Krasnodar, Russia, 13 June 2018. Former coach Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as national coach one day after agreeing to take over Real Madrid. Hierro will take charge of the Spanish team during the FIFA World Cup 2018. EPA-EFE/JAVIER ETXEZARRETA
Spanish national soccer players warm up during a training session in Krasnodar, Russia, 13 June 2018. The Spanish national soccer team prepares for the FIFA World Cup 2018 taking place in Russia from 14 June until 15 July 2018. EPA-EFE/JAVIER ETXEZARRETA

Friday’s fixtures feature three matches, including the mouth-watering derby between Portugal and Spain. DM

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