|Life After Football|
Dear diary, sometimes when you wait so long for something, it's arrival can feel extremely surreal.
Well, it was either the lengthy anticipation or the fact that Robbie Williams and Vladimir Putin were on the same TV screen one after another, that made the opening day of the 2018 World Cup one to gawk at.
The game itself didn't promise much. With both teams so lowly ranked, these nations have more than just oil in common. There's been talk in the Russian press about how our hosts are the worst Russian side of all time. About how their players are unmotivated and overpaid in the Russian top flight. About how even Saudi Arabia, a country ranked 67th in the world, will be a challenge for this Russia side, ranked at an all-time low of 70th. With both teams so lowly ranked, these nations had more than just oil in common.
But that simply was not the case and Russia were superb.
Unphased by an injury to one of their star players, Alan Dzagoev, their early lead was doubled by the man who replaced him, Denis Cheryshev, the man of the match and our first Comrade of the Day. He didn't make the grade at Real Madrid and has struggled to get into the Villareal side all season, but on the biggest stage of them all, he netted two fine goals in the morale-boosting 5-0 win for the hosts.
Maybe we can save judgement for the Saudi Arabia defence until after their second match and then decide just how easy it was for Russia. But for now, our hosts deserve praise. All the eyes of the nation, the pressure to represent them well, as well as the eyes of Putin and the eyes of the world were on the 11 Russian players on the pitch. Their performance, wrapped up with two stunning goals in injury time, was enough to get a smile from even a Gosha Rubchinskiy model.
Surrealism aside, the reality is that the World Cup has begun. Whilst these opening group games may not be the most dramatic just yet, there are at least 3 games every day for the next two weeks, and you don't need to have scored a 93rd-minute free-kick to be able to celebrate that.