FIFA World Cup 2018, Opening Ceremony Highlights: Robbie Williams serenades fans before 1st match between Russia and Saudi Arabia

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FIFA World Cup 2018, Opening Ceremony Highlights: Robbie Williams serenades fans before 1st match between Russia and Saudi Arabia
  • 20:25 (IST)

    Russia vs Saudi Arabia LIVE football score, FIFA World Cup 2018, Match 1 in Moscow: Hosts aim to start on winning note LIVE News, Latest Updates, Live blog, Highlights and Live coverage - Firstpost}

    Catch all the latest updates from the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

    https://www.firstpost.com

  • 20:24 (IST)

    As Putin makes his speech, we switch to our main live blog of the opening match!

    Do follow along as we bring you live scores and regular updates from Moscow -- Russia vs Saudi Arabia LIVE football score, FIFA World Cup 2018, Match 1 in Moscow: Hosts aim to start on winning note 

  • The opening ceremony had about 800 people in it. Russia was keen to keep it short, so we should expect the match to start on time. As the teams walk out, loud chants of "Rossiya, Rossiya'

    And of course, the seven nation army song.

    Vladimir Putin's arrival is accompanied with a huge cheer and waving of flags. 

  • 20:21 (IST)

    And with that, the opening ceremony comes to an end!

    Thankfully, it was short and not too painful. 

    We can see the teams in the tunnel and are just minutes away from live action! 

  • 20:15 (IST)

    Now, Robbie Williams is singing Rock DJ. 

    Finally, a song that the crowd recognises and can groove to. 

  • 20:12 (IST)

    The official match ball has just been brought onto the pitch, by the model Victoria Lopyreva.

    This very ball went into space earlier this year, spent some time on the International Space Station and got back on 3 June.

  • 20:11 (IST)

    Robbie Williams is back again with -- Feel. 

    Again, I had to check the pre-match notes for that. The irony -- no one is feeling anything right now. (Except bewilderment? And maybe anguish.) 

  • 20:10 (IST)

    Russian soprano Aida Garifullina is now singing while riding some kind of dragon(?)

    Your guess is as good as mine. I am a little lost for words right now. 

  • 20:08 (IST)

    IT'S TIME!

    Brazilian legend Ronaldo walks out with a mascot to start off the opening ceremony. 

    He is followed by Robbie Williams, who belts out his classic 'Let Me Entertain You'. 

    (Seriously, who made this choice? I had to Shazam that song to find out what he was singing.) 

  • 20:06 (IST)

    Russia vs Saudi Arabia LIVE football score, FIFA World Cup 2018, Match 1 in Moscow: Hosts aim to start on winning note LIVE News, Latest Updates, Live blog, Highlights and Live coverage - Firstpost}

    Catch all the latest updates from the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

    https://www.firstpost.com

  • 19:58 (IST)

    Will the Saudi Arabian fans have much to cheer for after the match is over? No host nation has ever lost in their opening game of a World Cup tournament

  • 19:54 (IST)

    The stadium is gradually filling up with an eclectic crowd including not only Russians and Saudis but many fans from various South American countries.

    Fans cheered as the sides were announced and came out of the tunnel.

    The players and coaches from Saudi Arabia and the host Russian side have gone out to loosen up and wave to fans in the 81,000-seat stadium.

  • 19:51 (IST)

    The 38-year-old defender Sergei Ignashevich will start for Russia in the opening game against Saudi Arabia.

    Ignashevich, who came out of international retirement for the World Cup, is likely to be part of a four-man backline after injuries forced coach Stanislav Cherchesov to switch recently from his preferred system of three center backs.

    The Brazil-born Mario Fernandes starts at right-back, while Fyodor Smolov is set to be the lone striker.

  • 19:47 (IST)

    Russian team come out to warm-up and are welcomed with loud cheers from the crowd.

    Take a look at the starting line-ups for the two teams.

  • 19:43 (IST)

    The World Cup is in the house!

  • 19:33 (IST)

    Before the opening ceremony, let's shift our focus to the first match -- Russia vs Saudi Arabia!

    Hosts Russia enter the World Cup as the lowest-ranked of the 32 teams participating in the tournament as they sit 70th in the FIFA rankings while Saudi Arabia are three spots above in 67th.

    Russia last progressed past the World Cup group stage in 1986, when they were part of the Soviet Union national team, while Saudi Arabia’s sole appearance in the last-16 came in 1994.

    Previous meetings: The teams have played each other once before - in a friendly in 1993, with Saudi Arabia winning 4-2.

  • 19:27 (IST)

    The Luzhniki Stadium is beginning to fill up!

    We are just half an hour away from the start of the opening ceremony. 

    Football purists will be happy to hear that, unlike most years, this time the opening ceremony will be *just* 30 minutes long. 

    As far as headliners go, this year's choice is quite a perplexing one - Robbie Williams, the voice of this generation. Obviously! 

  • 19:22 (IST)

    FIFA World Cup 2018: Everything you need to know about Russia's Zabivaka and other mascots over the years - Firstpost}

    Everything you need to know about Zabivaka, the official mascot for the 2018 World Cup. Zabivaka was chosen after FIFA.com conducted an internet poll.

    https://www.firstpost.com

  • 19:22 (IST)

    A wolf called Zabivaka is the 2018 Fifa World Cup mascot.

    The wolf, whose name according to FIFA means “the one who scores”, was designed by student designer Ekaterina Bocharova and received 53 percent of the votes cast in the poll, beating out a tiger (27 percent) and a cat (20 percent). 

    FIFA described the mascot — unveiled during a live television show in the presence of Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko and former Brazil striker Ronaldo — as “a wolf who radiates fun, charm and confidence”. 

    Read more about the mascot here: Everything you need to know about Russia's Zabivaka and other mascots over the years

  • 19:20 (IST)

    Here's more on the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow from the Saudi Arabia team's Twitter account.

  • 19:18 (IST)

    The FIFA World Cup 2018 trophy is out in the Luzhniki Stadium!

    Former Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas carries the gilded prize out! This is what all 32 teams are fighting for over the next one month. 

  • 19:04 (IST)

    As we count down to the opening ceremony, get in the mood by listening to this year's official anthem 

  • 18:48 (IST)

    FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia gets ready for its big day amid crisis, worries and poor planning - Firstpost}

    With crisis, worries and poor planning, the World Cup threatens to have a limited impact. But that may change if the Russian national side turns around its fortunes on the big day.

    https://www.firstpost.com

  • 18:48 (IST)

    Priyansh, a freelance journalist covering the World Cup in Russia for Firstpost, writes

    "As the World Cup dawns on Russia, the country may finally wake up from its stupor. It has been a somewhat muted welcome to football’s greatest show, an air of apprehension about the whole thing."

  • 18:38 (IST)

    The opening ceremony will start half an hour before the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    Kick-off for the first match is at 8.30 pm IST at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

    There will also be a concert held in the city's famous Red Square concurrently with the opening ceremony. 

  • 18:29 (IST)

  • 18:18 (IST)

    The opening ceremony will focus on a series of musical acts, with Robbie Williams headlining. 

    Around 500 dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists will also be performing in the opening extravaganza that will pay homage to all things Russian. 

    According to FIFA, the 2018 World Cup opening ceremony will have a slightly different format compared to previous editions of the tournament, with a particular focus on musical acts.

  • 17:21 (IST)

    Hello and welcome to out live coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2018!

    We are just hours away from the start of the biggest sporting event in the world.

    Ahead of the first match between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, there is a glamorous opening ceremony to officially kick-start the tournament.

    Stay tuned as we count down to the opening ceremony and bring you live updates from Moscow.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to begin on Thursday at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium with a glamorous opening ceremony to kick things off.

British pop star Robbie Williams will be performing at the World Cup opening ceremony along with a series of musical acts.

Around 500 dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists will also be performing in an opening ceremony that will pay homage to all things Russian.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Winner's Trophy on display. Reuters

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Winner's Trophy on display. Reuters

There will also be a concert held in the city's famous Red Square concurrently with the opening ceremony.

Speaking on Tuesday after a rehearsal for the show, Williams said he will be performing “a medley, a smorgasbord of my greatest hits” alongside Russian soprano Aida Garifullina.

“I would love to do ‘Party Like A Russian.’ Unfortunately I’ve been asked not to do ‘Party Like A Russian,” he said.

Williams immediately added: “Actually, it has nothing to do with not being asked. It’s about me doing my biggest hits that are the best known.”

In the 2016 track, the Briton sings “it takes a certain kind of man with a certain reputation, to alleviate the cash from a whole entire nation.” In the accompanying music video, ballerinas twirl around Williams in a lavish setting.

Pro-Kremlin media outlets were critical, suggesting Williams could be snubbed by Russian event organisers because of the song.

In response, Williams wrote on Twitter at the time that “this song is definitely not about Mr Putin.”

“‘Party Like A Russian’” was a big hit for me, it was like my biggest hit here in Russia, so I’m really pleased,” Williams said.

“I didn’t mean any disrespect by it at all. It’s more of a Monty Python-esque kind of humor. I’m not mocking anybody. It’s just a pop record.”

Williams, who has previously performed at private parties organized by wealthy Russian business people, said he loved coming to Russia.

“Because when we grew up, Russia might as well have been on a different planet,” he said. “And then peering behind the Iron Curtain as it was, as it is, you get to meet the people, you get to experience the culture and you realize that, you know, they are just humans, just like me and you.”

Williams said performing at the opening ceremony of the World Cup was an honor.

“Something like this happens, and you pinch yourself,” he said. “I’m pinching myself again... And I just don’t want to get too overwhelmed because I know how big the stage is.”

The performance will take place half an hour before Russia face Saudi Arabia in the tournament’s opening match.

With inputs from Reuters

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Click here for live updates from the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia


Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 20:25 PM

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