Daily Maverick

Robbie Williams parties like a Russian as hosts seal win in opener against Saudi Arabia

Russian fans pictured before the start of 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

One down, only 63 more matches to go. Keep on top of the action with our daily wrap that includes all the results and news you need to know. Oh and of course we're going to talk about the cuisine of all the participating nations.

The 2018 World Cup kicked off in Russia on Thursday.

Yury Gazinsky, Denis Cheryshev (twice), Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin all found the back of the net for the hosts with hapless Saudi Arabia having no response.

For the good of the tournament, it’s exactly the start everyone would have hoped for.

Cheryshev said there were “no words” to describe how he was feeling after Russia’s rout… and then proceeded to use words anyway, saying: “I could never have dreamed of anything like this. I felt very happy when I knew I would be here in the squad but I never dreamed of anything like this. I’m happy we’ve won but we shouldn’t stop there.”

Meanwhile, Robbie Williams, who was the lead act at the opening ceremony, flipped the bird in front of the whole world.

If Thursday’s extravaganza set the tone for the tournament, we’re in for one heck of a ride.

News you might care about

Good news if you’re a fan of Egypt or a fan of Mohamed Salah. The striker has been declared fit to face Uruguay in the Pharaohs’ opening fixture on Friday. Luis Suárez will have to lend an extra hand, or at least some added bite, to his side.

Communist lawmaker Tamara Pletneva gave Russian women a good old bollocking before the tournament kicked off, with the old “I’m not nationalist, but…”, warning that Russian women should watch where they kick off their boots.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov went out to bat for the feminists, though, saying Russian women can manage their own affairs by adding: “They are the best women in the world.”

Another world leader might have something to say about that, Dmitry.

Quote of the day

“It completely surprised me, I don’t know the background of the decision, but two days before the first World Cup game – it’s amazing.”

Germany coach Joachim Loew is as surprised as anyone after Spain’s decision to fire their coach on the eve of the tournament.

Fixtures on 15 June

14:00 Egypt vs Uruguay

17:00 Morocco vs Iran

20:00 Portugal vs Spain

Dish of the day

You can’t go through 64 matches with 32 different countries and not be a little bit intrigued about what kind of sustenance fuels their success. On today’s menu: Borscht. Popular in a number of Eastern European countries, this vividly coloured delight of blended beetroot is the perfect winter warmer to get you through those evening kick offs.

Ukraine is frequently cited as its place of origin, so you can insert your own political innuendo here.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the name comes from the Slavic word for “the cow parsnip, or common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), or from a fermented beverage derived from that plant. The more palatable cultivated beet eventually replaced the wild cow parsnip as the basis of the soup”.

Try this recipe from the Hairy Bikers for some comforting fodder. DM

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