THE (VERY) BEAU­TI­FUL GAME!

From the pick of the pecs to the WAGs to watch, here’s why the World Cup will set pulses rac­ing (even if you hate the foot­ball)

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - RUSSIA 2018 - By Katie Hind

AF­TER years of con­tro­versy, more than €1bn spent and 2.4mil­lion tick­ets sold – not to men­tion a world­wide tele­vi­sion au­di­ence ex­pected to top 3 bil­lion, the world’s big­gest sport­ing jam­boree is fi­nally upon us.

Wel­come to Rus­sia 2018, which kicks off on Thurs­day when hosts Rus­sia play Saudi Arabia, to be­gin a month-long feast of foot­ball that will see 32 coun­tries play­ing a to­tal of 64 matches across 11 Rus­sian cities.

But ig­nore the threats of boy­cotts, claims of cor­rup­tion, hooli­gan­ism fears and Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin strut­ting around like a peacock to the wider world.

But maybe just take your eyes off the beau­ti­ful game for a minute as the matches are only the half of it.

Just as much at­ten­tion will be show­ered on the WAGs cheer­ing on from the side­lines.

And, of course, with foot­ball now ap­peal­ing to as many women as men, there will be great in­ter­est in the guys, and who are per­fect 10s rather than per­fect No.10s.

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