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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, Aug. 20


AmCham gets back to business after a summer hiatus with todays EHS Committee Working Group Meeting. Check their website for more details.



Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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