fo­cus • anal­y­sis • sta­tis­tics

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

The wait is over! The FIFA World Cup 2018 in Rus­sia will kick-off this af­ter­noon at the Luzh­niki sta­dium in Moscow with the host coun­try Rus­sia fac­ing Saudi Ara­bia in a Group A match.

The month-long foot­ball fes­ti­val will see 32 na­tions bat­tling out for foot­ball’s most pres­ti­gious tro­phy.

This will be the 21st edi­tion of the FIFA World Cup which started way back in 1930 in Mon­te­v­ideo, with hosts Uruguay beat­ing Argentina 4-2 in the fi­nal to claim the first ti­tle.

This will be the first tour­na­ment to be or­gan­ised in East­ern Europe, with the next two edi­tions in Qatar and North Amer­ica re­spec­tively.

Germany will be de­fend­ing the ti­tle won in Brazil in 2014.

The in­au­gu­ral match be­tween Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia will be pre­ceded by a 30-minute open­ing cer­e­mony which will will have a slightly dif­fer­ent for­mat com­pared to pre­vi­ous edi­tions of the tour­na­ment, and will fo­cus on a se­ries of mu­si­cal acts, with Rob­bie Wil­liams head­lin­ing.

Around 500 dancers, gym­nasts and tram­polin­ists will also be per­form­ing in an open­ing ex­trav­a­ganza that will pay homage to Rus­sian cul­ture and his­tory.

Rob­bie Wil­liams the former Take That star will be joined by cel­e­brated Rus­sian so­prano Aida Gar­i­ful­lina.

Opera singer Placido Domingo - who fa­mously sound­tracked Italia '90 as one of the Three Tenors along­side Lu­ciano Pavarotti and José Car­reras will also be per­form­ing. Peru­vian tenor Juan Diego Florez will join him.

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

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