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Russia Gets Set as FIFA World Cup Kicks Off

Published: June 11, 2014 (Issue # 1815)


The FIFA World Cup starts tomorrow evening in Brazil as the host country takes on Croatia in the first of 64 games to be played over the next month. It is the worlds largest sporting spectacle and billions are expected to watch as 32 nations vie for the chance to be crowned as the best at the worlds most popular game.

For the first time in 12 years, Russia will be competing in the tournament. After finishing at the top of their qualifying group, the national team, nicknamed sbornaya, was drawn into group H, placing them alongside Belgium, South Korea and Algeria.

Their first match, against South Korea, kicks off at 2 a.m. on June 18 (Moscow time), followed by a showdown with Belgium in Rio de Janeiro at 8 p.m. on June 22 (Moscow time) before finishing the group stage against Algeria at 12 a.m. on June 27 (Moscow time). If Russia finishes as one of the top two teams in their group, they will play against one of the top two teams from Group G, which features Germany, Portugal, the United States and Ghana, in the round of 16.

The Russian team exclusively features players from the Russian Premier League, including five from this years champions CSKA Moscow and four from Zenit St. Petersburg. Coached by Italian manager Fabio Capello, who led England out of the group stage at the last edition of the tournament in 2010 before Germany demolished them 4-1 in the next round, the national team hopes to avoid a repeat of their last appearance at the World Cup.

In 2002, Russia was also drawn in Group H with an eerily similar draw to this years, placed in a group with Belgium, Tunisia and Japan. After beating Tunisia 2-0 in their first game, they lost to co-hosts Japan 1-0, a result which sparked riots in Moscow that killed 2 people. The national team lost 3-2 in their final game against Belgium after conceding two late goals and they were eliminated from the tournament.

Russia, however, will be without former Zenit St. Petersburg player and national team captain Roman Shirokov. The midfielder has not played since April and will undergo knee surgery in Finland this week. He has been replaced in the squad by 21-year-old midfielder Pavel Mogilevets, who plays for Rubin Kazan on loan from Zenit.

It is yet another eerie similarity to Russias last appearance in the World Cup. In 2002, then midfielder and playmaker Alexander Mostovoi missed the tournament after injuring his thigh several weeks before it began.

Shirokovs former teammate and current Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kerzhakov is the only member of the 2002 team in this years squad. Now 31, he is one goal away from matching Vladimir Beschastnykhs record 26 goals for the national team, a mark Kerzhakov will have a chance to surpass at this tournament.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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