The FIFA World Cup is only seven months away and we cannot wait anymore. After the recently concluded draw, you may be hoping to see your favourite stars in national colours vying for the ultimate prize.
Russia invested millions of money in order to renovate these already wonderful stadiums. Ever since winning the bid to host next year’s tournament, the Russian President Vladimir Putin has given the green light to invest heavily on these grounds. Russian Football President Mitaly Putko has assured fans of best-in-class seats and facilites all around the stadiums. “People will love the atmosphere. Our men have worked hard. The stadiums will also be having special reservations for the students, the challenged masses. Price cuts will be offered to the fans of visiting countries”.
Here is a rundown of the Russian cities and stadiums hosting the 2018 World Cup and which matches will be played there.
Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)
It is slated to host the opener and the Grand Finale. Built in the 1950s, it was used during the 1980 Olympic Games and hosts most matches played by the Russian national team and at various times has been home to city clubs Spartak, CSKA and Torpedo. Manchester United fans will remember it fondly – it was here, in driving rain, that the club won their third European title by beating Chelsea on penalties in 2008.
Thursday, June 14: Russia v A2 4pm
Sunday, June 17: F1 v F2 4pm
Wednesday, June 20: B1 v B3 1pm
Tuesday, June 26: C4 v C1 3pm
LAST 16 Sunday, July 1: 1B v 2A 3pm (Match 51)
SEMI-FINAL Wednesday, July 11: Winner match 59 v winner match 60 7pm
FINAL Sunday, July 15 4pm
Moscow (Spartak Stadium)
Home, as the name suggests, to Spartak Moscow, who despite their reputation and huge fanbase had never truly had a stadium to call their own until it was built. Opened in 2014.
Four group games, one last-16 game.
Saturday, June 16: D1 v D2 2pm
Tuesday, June 19: H1 v H2 1pm
Saturday, June 23: G1 v G3 1pm
Wednesday, June 27: E4 v E1 7pm
LAST 16 Tuesday, July 3: 1H v 2G 7pm (Match 56)
Nizhny Novgorod (Nizhny Novgorod Stadium)
It is situated in Strelka, a western district of Nizhny Novgorod, and is one of several World Cup stadiums to be placed attractively by a river – or two, in this case, at the confluence of the Volga and the Oka. Work on the project is expected to be over by Christmas. The design promises to be one of the World Cup’s most striking, with slim pillars supporting from the outside and surrounding a semi-transparent facade. But the view over the 500-year-old Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is the real selling point and the sense of place should be strong.
Monday, June 18: F3 v F4 1pm
Thursday, June 21: D1 v D3 7pm
Sunday, June 24: G4 v G2 1pm
Wednesday, June 27: E2 v E3 7pm
LAST 16 Sunday, July 1: 1D v 2C 7pm (Match 52)
QUARTER-FINAL Friday, July 6: Winner match 49 v winner match 50 3pm (Match 57)
Rostov-on-Don (Rostov Arena)
Situated on the banks of the River Don, this is another brand new facility and one that – like several of its peers – has suffered a few false starts. Eventually construction began towards the end of 2014 and the finishing touches should be complete by Christmas, although this is seven months after the originally mooted completion date.
According to the blurb, Rostov Arena will be notable for its roof – which apparently imitates the meanderings of the river. There are attractive views over that and the south-west Russian city.
Sunday, June 17: E1 v E2 7pm
Wednesday, June 20: A4 v A2 4pm
Saturday, June 23: F4 v F2 7pm
Tuesday, June 26: D2 v D3 7pm
LAST 16 Monday, July 2: 1G v 2H 7pm (Match 54)
SAINT PETERSBURG – (Krestovsky Stadium)
It was designed to look as though a spaceship had landed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and, to be fair, now completed it does fit that description.
What Vladimir Putin and the World Cup organisers won’t tell you is that the whole project has been an unmitigated shambles from start to finish.
It is reportedly the most expensive stadium in the world at $1.5billion (£1.14bn) and it may well have been cheaper to build an actual spaceship.
Local side Zenit finally moved in back in April and it was the scene of Germany’s triumph over Chile in the FIFA Confederations Cup in July.
For visitors, Saint Petersburg is very attractive indeed with stunning architecture to gawp at and plenty of history to discover.
Friday, June 15: B3 v B4 4pm
Tuesday, June 19: Russia v A3 7pm
Friday, June 22: E1 v E3 1pm
Tuesday, June 26: D4 v D1 7pm
LAST 16 Tuesday, July 3: 1F v 2E 3pm (Match 55)
SEMI-FINALS Tuesday, July 10: Winner match 57 v winner match 58 7pm
THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF Saturday, July 14 3pm
Samara (Samara Arena)
Capital of the Samara region and home to the offices of Russian state when they were evacuated from Moscow during the Second World War. It will play host to Krylya Sovetov after the tournament. From the outside, the shape of the stadium resembles a glass dome and this will be particularly impressive when lit up for evening matches.
Four group games (including Russia’s third and final group match), one last-16 game, one quarter-final.
Sunday, June 17: E3 v E4 1pm
Thursday, June 21: C4 v C2 4pm
Monday, June 25: A4 v Russia 3pm
Thursday, June 28: H2 v H3 3pm
LAST 16 Monday, July 2: 1E v 2F 3pm (Match 53)
QF Saturday, July 7: Winner match 55 v winner match 56 3pm (Match 60)
VOLGOGRAD – (Volgograd Arena)
It all starts here for England on June 18 against Tunisia.
The new stadium will be home to second-tier Rotor Volgograd after the tournament, a team best known for their UEFA Cup elimination of Manchester United back in 1995.
Almost 1,000km south of Moscow, this venue will only stage group games and it’s also one of the longer trips for the England team, at two hours 35 minutes.
Still there is plenty of history to explore for those who do visit, with a big museum and various military cemeteries.
Monday, June 18: G3 v G4 7pm
Friday, June 22: D4 v D2 4pm
Monday, June 25: A2 v A3 3pm
Thursday, June 28: H4 v H1 3pm
Sochi (Fisht Stadium)
The resort city on the edge of the Black Sea hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the Fisht Stadium was purpose-built for those Games. It is due to be a training – and match – venue for the Russian national team after the 2018 finals.
Friday, June 15: B1 v B2 7pm
Monday, June 18: G1 v G2 4pm
Saturday, June 23: F1 v F3 4pm
Tuesday, June 26: C2 v C3 3pm
LAST 16 Saturday, June 30: 1A v 2B 7pm (Match 49)
QF Saturday, July 7: Winner match 51 v winner match 52 7pm (Match 59)
SARANSK – (Mordovia Arena)
An attractive-looking oval-shaped stadium design that features an exterior of orange, red and white coloured tiles to reflect Mordovia’s arts and crafts.
Saransk is the main city in the Mordovia region and is some 626km south-east of Moscow. It seems to also be the hub for industry, with mechanical engineering, metalwork and chemical plants among the main employers.
After the World Cup, local third division side Mordovia Saransk take up residency, with the capacity set to be lowered from 44,000 to 25,000, more suited to a team of their status.
The space freed up will be devoted to other sports including indoor volleyball, basketball and tennis.
Saturday, June 16: C3 v C4 5pm
Tuesday, June 19: H3 v H4 4pm
Monday, June 25: B4 v B1 7pm
Thursday, June 28: G2 v G3 7pm
Kazan (Kazan Arena)
Kazan is the capital of the republic of Tatarstan and is home to 1.2 million people. The stadium was built for the World University Games in 2013 and is home to local club Rubin Kazan. It was designed by the same firm of architects behind Wembley Stadium and the Emirates Stadium.
Saturday, June 16: C1 v C2 11am
Wednesday, June 20: B4 v B2 7pm
Sunday, June 24: H1 v H3 7pm
Wednesday, June 27: F4 v F1 3pm
LAST 16 Saturday, June 30: 1C v 2D 3pm (Match 50)
QF Friday, July 6: Winner match 53 v winner match 54 7pm (Match 58)
KALININGRAD – Kaliningrad Stadium
This brand new facility will provide the Russian exclave, squeezed in between Poland and Lithuania, with an impressive stadium whose concept was originally based on the Allianz Arena. It is situated on Oktyabrsky Island, to the east of the city centre – a picturesque setting that had effectively been a wilderness for many years until this project began. The location is probably Kaliningrad Stadium’s most seductive factor. Design-wise, the stadium is fairly functional even if it is easy enough on the eye.
Saturday, June 16: D3 v D4 8pm
Friday, June 22: E4 v E2 7pm
Monday, June 25: B2 v B3 7pm
Thursday, June 28: G4 v G1 7pm
Home to Russian side FC Ural. Full international football has yet to take place here although Russia’s under-21s have passed through three times. The ground’s biggest past dalliance with global significance came in 1959, when it held the World Allround Speed Skating Championships. The new stadium soars high above the vestiges of its predecessor but does, at least, retain the old facade – which, like at the Luzhniki, is quite a work of art. But the biggest point of interest may be the temporary stands behind each goal that sit outside the main stadium structure. Such a bizarre sight triggered widespread media interest, and some ridicule, in October.
Friday, June 15: A3 v A4 1pm
Thursday, June 21: C1 v C3 1pm
Sunday, June 24: H4 v H2 4pm