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Guide to the Russia 2018 World Cup venues

by 06/10/2017 09:25:00 0 comments 1 Views

By Adam Shergold for MailOnline

Published: 08:58 EDT, 6 October 2017 | Updated: 09:25 EDT, 6 October 2017

They may have achieved it in pretty uninspiring fashion, but England have booked their place at next summer's World Cup in Russia.

A drab 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley, sealed thanks to Harry Kane's stoppage time goal, ensured England's qualification with one match to spare.

It means Football Association officials and Three Lions fans alike can start putting in place their plans to go out and watch the tournament next year.

Gareth Southgate has already chosen England's base - the four-star ForRestMix resort in the village of Repino, located on the Gulf of Finland in the north of the country.

Now we just have to wait for the draw at the Kremlin Palace on December 1 to see which of the groups England end up in and which of the 12 tournament venues they will be visiting.

Naturally, some locations are more attractive than others. Here's everything you need to know about the Russia 2018 venues.

A map showing the location of the 12 World Cup venues in Russia and their capacities 
A map showing the location of the 12 World Cup venues in Russia and their capacities 

A map showing the location of the 12 World Cup venues in Russia and their capacities 

Harry Kane scored the late goals that earned England a 1-0 win over Slovenia and secured their place at the World Cup in 2018
Harry Kane scored the late goals that earned England a 1-0 win over Slovenia and secured their place at the World Cup in 2018

Harry Kane scored the late goals that earned England a 1-0 win over Slovenia and secured their place at the World Cup in 2018

England will be staying at the ForRestMix resort in the village of Repino, northern Russia, if they qualify for the World Cup
England will be staying at the ForRestMix resort in the village of Repino, northern Russia, if they qualify for the World Cup

England will be staying at the ForRestMix resort in the village of Repino, northern Russia, if they qualify for the World Cup

MOSCOW - Luzhniki Stadium

Capacity: 81,000 Opened: 2017 (rebuilt original stadium, open 1955-2013) Team: Russia national team

Four group matches, one last-16, one semi-final, final

The centrepiece stadium for this World Cup, the Russian authorities tore down the old Luzhniki Stadium in 2013 and have rebuilt a new 81,000-capacity ground while trying to preserve the historical facade and architecture of the old one.

The former ground hosted the 1980 Olympic Games, the 2008 Champions League final, which saw Manchester United defeat Chelsea on penalties, and also the 2013 World Athletics Championships.

A view inside the refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital Moscow - it will host the final of the 2018 World Cup
A view inside the refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital Moscow - it will host the final of the 2018 World Cup

A view inside the refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital Moscow - it will host the final of the 2018 World Cup

Lenin stands guard outside the Luzhniki Stadium, which is the showpiece arena of the tournament next summer
Lenin stands guard outside the Luzhniki Stadium, which is the showpiece arena of the tournament next summer

Lenin stands guard outside the Luzhniki Stadium, which is the showpiece arena of the tournament next summer

Given that the Luzhniki is staging a semi-final and a final, it's potentially really good news if England get to play here.

In terms of travelling from the team base in Repino, it's a 763km trip or a relatively short flight time of one hour 15 minutes, which isn't too inconvenient.

For the travelling fans, Moscow will be one of the most attractive and easy-to-reach destinations. 

The capital is absolutely majestic in terms of history, architecture and culture, with Red Square, the Kremlin, Gorky Park and St Basil's Cathedral no doubt on the sightseeing list of most World Cup visitors.

Attractiveness rating for England: 4.5/5

With direct flights from the United Kingdom, many England fans will be keen to watch their side play in the Russian capital
With direct flights from the United Kingdom, many England fans will be keen to watch their side play in the Russian capital

With direct flights from the United Kingdom, many England fans will be keen to watch their side play in the Russian capital

A view of the distinctive Moscow skyline and the Moskva River, with the Cathedral to the right and the Kremlin in the back
A view of the distinctive Moscow skyline and the Moskva River, with the Cathedral to the right and the Kremlin in the back

A view of the distinctive Moscow skyline and the Moskva River, with the Cathedral to the right and the Kremlin in the back

MOSCOW - Spartak Stadium

Capacity: 45,360 Opened: 2014 Team: Spartak Moscow and some Russia games

Four group games, one last-16

Also in Moscow, the Spartak Stadium (or Otkrytiye Arena for sponsorship reasons) will be hosting five matches during the early part of the tournament.

The home of Spartak Moscow has only been standing a few years after quite a long-winded construction process that saw the plans redrafted a few times.

It opened in September 2014 and beat the building of CSKA Moscow's VTB Arena, which was originally intended to be a World Cup venue.

The exterior is certainly impressive, with hundreds of little diamonds in red and white making up the Spartak club crest. However, these colours can be changed depending on who is playing there, rather like Munich's Allianz Arena.

Again, Moscow is just a short flight away from England's base, so there will be no complaints if they're drawn in a group that requires a visit here.

Attractiveness rating: 4/5

The Spartak Stadium, which opened in 2014, is the smaller of the two Moscow venues and will stage five tournament matches
The Spartak Stadium, which opened in 2014, is the smaller of the two Moscow venues and will stage five tournament matches

The Spartak Stadium, which opened in 2014, is the smaller of the two Moscow venues and will stage five tournament matches

A view of Moscow's Red Square by night, with the intricate domes of St Basil's cathedral visible
A view of Moscow's Red Square by night, with the intricate domes of St Basil's cathedral visible

A view of Moscow's Red Square by night, with the intricate domes of St Basil's cathedral visible

SAINT PETERSBURG - Krestovsky Stadium

Capacity: 64,287 Opened: 2017 Team: Zenit St Petersburg

Four group matches, one last-16, one semi-final, third-place play-off

It was designed to look as though a spaceship had landed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and, to be fair, now completed it does fit that description.

What Vladimir Putin and the World Cup organisers won't tell you is that the whole project has been an unmitigated shambles from start to finish.

The Krestovsky, named after the island on which it is built, was supposed to be ready in December 2008 but actually opened nine years late and 548 per cent over budget.

It is reportedly the most expensive stadium in the world at $1.5billion (£1.14bn) and it may well have been cheaper to build an actual spaceship.

Local side Zenit finally moved in back in April and it was the scene of Germany's triumph over Chile in the FIFA Confederations Cup in July.

For visitors, Saint Petersburg is very attractive indeed with stunning architecture to gawp at and plenty of history to discover.

Plus for England, matches here are incredibly convenient because their base at Repino is just 19 miles away from the city or a 40-minute drive.

Attractiveness rating: 5/5

The interior to the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg, which is the closest host venue to England's training base
The interior to the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg, which is the closest host venue to England's training base

The interior to the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg, which is the closest host venue to England's training base

A view of the city of Saint Petersburg, which will be high on the wish list of fans wanting to visit Russia for the World Cup
A view of the city of Saint Petersburg, which will be high on the wish list of fans wanting to visit Russia for the World Cup

A view of the city of Saint Petersburg, which will be high on the wish list of fans wanting to visit Russia for the World Cup

KALININGRAD - Kaliningrad Stadium

Capacity: 35,212 Opened: Under construction Team: Baltika Kaliningrad

Four group matches

Kaliningrad is the only venue that is separate to mainland Russia, for the city is located in an enclave situated between Poland and Lithuania. The city is actually slightly further west than Warsaw and was heavily militarised for much of its history.

The finishing touches are being applied to the stadium, which will need a few test events before the World Cup starts.

The local club Baltika, who play in Russia's second tier, will move there after the tournament and the capacity will be reduced from just over 35,000 to around 25,000.

The Lonely Planet write-up of Kaliningrad doesn't exactly sell it: 'It carries more than a whiff of its days as an outpost of the USSR... [with] vast swaths of brutal Stalin-stamped buildings and unmistakably Soviet monuments.'

Great news for football fans who also enjoy their Soviet history, but there are most pleasant aspects such as nice parks and attractions such as the Museum of the World Ocean which has a big sperm whale skeleton.

It's not too bad for the England team to reach, just a 90-minute flight from St Petersburg. For fans not on charter trips, Kaliningrad can only be reached by changing planes in Warsaw or Moscow.

Attractiveness rating: 2.5/5

Kaliningrad, the only host city that lies outside the Russian mainland, will stage four of the group matches
Kaliningrad, the only host city that lies outside the Russian mainland, will stage four of the group matches

Kaliningrad, the only host city that lies outside the Russian mainland, will stage four of the group matches

KAZAN - Kazan Arena

Capacity: 45,379 Opened: 2013 Team: Rubin Kazan

Four group matches, one last-16, one quarter-final

The city of Kazan hired the same architects behind Wembley Stadium and the Emirates Stadium to build their new venue, which has been open four years already.

Apparently, when viewed from above, it is meant to resemble a water lily, a reference to the adjacent Kazanka River.

The stadium has the largest outside video screen in Europe, stretching right along one side of the venue, meaning fans can watch stuff as they walk up to the arena.

Russian Premier League club Rubin Kazan have been tenants since August 2013 and a swimming pool was built next door for the 2015 World Aquatics Championships.

Some 800km further east than Moscow, it'll be a two hour 10 minute flight for the England team from their Saint Petersburg base.

Fans will again have to change in Moscow and be prepared for the long-haul, but once there they will find a strange mix of European and Asian customs and cultures.

The multi-coloured domes and minarets of the churches and mosques here are beautiful and the city boasts a history 150 years older than that of Moscow.

The unusual Soviet Lifestyle Museum is an insight into everyday life behind the Iron Curtain.

Attractiveness rating: 2/5

The 45,379-capacity Kazan Arena, designed by the same architects that worked on Wembley and the Emirates Stadium
The 45,379-capacity Kazan Arena, designed by the same architects that worked on Wembley and the Emirates Stadium

The 45,379-capacity Kazan Arena, designed by the same architects that worked on Wembley and the Emirates Stadium

NIZHNY NOVGOROD - Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Capacity: 44,899 Opened: Under construction Team: Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod

Four group matches, one last-16, one quarter-final

Located mid-way between Moscow and Kazan, the newly-built stadium in Nizhny Novgorod is hosting two matches in the knockout stage as well as four in the group.

Construction should be finished this year but there was a setback this week when a fire broke out after a welding spark ignited some polystyrene debris.

The organisers insist the fire won't affect construction schedules.

Situated at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers, the stadium's design is meant to be inspired by the region's natural aspects - water and wind.

It is located slap bang in the city centre, offering views of the 16th-century Kremlin building and the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, the two main tourist attractions. 

That bodes well for day-trippers and it is an hour's flight from Moscow, so not too arduous for travelling fans. For the team, the flight time will be just under two hours.

Local side Olimpiyets, recently promoted into the Russian second division will move into the stadium after the tournament. 

Attractiveness rating: 2/5

The attractive interior of the stadium at Nizhny Novgorod, which will host six matches during the World Cup
The attractive interior of the stadium at Nizhny Novgorod, which will host six matches during the World Cup

The attractive interior of the stadium at Nizhny Novgorod, which will host six matches during the World Cup

The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium catches fire this week when a welding spark ignited some polystyrene debris
The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium catches fire this week when a welding spark ignited some polystyrene debris

The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium catches fire this week when a welding spark ignited some polystyrene debris

SAMARA - Cosmos Arena

Capacity: 44,918 Opened: Under construction Team: Kylia Sovetov

Four group matches, one last-16, one quarter-final

This particular part of the Volga region is associated with the aerospace sector and that provided the inspiration for this uber-modern stadium design.

From the outside, the shape of the stadium resembles a glass dome and this will be particularly impressive when lit up for evening matches.

Samara is some 1,000km to the south-east of Moscow, so is likely to require a stopover, while it'll be two hours and 20 minutes on the plane for the England boys.

Indeed, it isn't too far away from the border with Kazakhstan, so this is truly one for the intrepid should England get drawn here.

One thing to visit is the bunker where Stalin was to be relocated in the event the Germans occupied Moscow during the Second World War.

There isn't much else to see, though the riverside parks should be thronged if the weather is hot.

The stadium, which is the centrepiece of a massive regeneration project in the north of the city, will be home to Premier League side Krylia Sovetov after the World Cup.

Attractiveness rating: 1.5/5

Inside the Cosmos Arena in Samara, designed in tribute to the region's space and aeronautics industries
Inside the Cosmos Arena in Samara, designed in tribute to the region's space and aeronautics industries

Inside the Cosmos Arena in Samara, designed in tribute to the region's space and aeronautics industries

VOLGOGRAD - Vologograd Arena

Capacity: 45,568 Opened: Under construction Team: Rotor Volgograd

Four group matches

Another ambitious new stadium build with an eye-catching design. It will have a lattice exterior, while the roof is meant to resemble the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

It is being built at the foot of the Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, the city's most iconic landmark.

This towering monument of Mother Russia wielding an 11m long sword marks the bloody battle in 1943, when the city was known as Stalingrad, that turned back the German advance into Russia once and for all.

The new stadium will be home to second-tier Rotor Volgograd after the tournament, a team best known for their UEFA Cup elimination of Manchester United back in 1995.

Almost 1,000km south of Moscow, this venue will only stage group games and it's also one of the longer trips for the England team, at two hours 35 minutes.

Still there is plenty of history to explore for those who do visit, with a big museum and various military cemeteries.

Attractiveness rating: 2/5

The stunning exterior of the riverside Volgograd Arena, which is scheduled to hold four group stage fixtures
The stunning exterior of the riverside Volgograd Arena, which is scheduled to hold four group stage fixtures

The stunning exterior of the riverside Volgograd Arena, which is scheduled to hold four group stage fixtures

SARANSK - Mordovia Arena

Capacity: 44,412 Opened: 2017 Team: Mordovia Saransk

Four group matches

An attractive-looking oval-shaped stadium design that features an exterior of orange, red and white coloured tiles to reflect Mordovia's arts and crafts.

Saransk is the main city in the Mordovia region and is some 626km south-east of Moscow. It seems to also be the hub for industry, with mechanical engineering, metalwork and chemical plants among the main employers.

There doesn't appear to be much for the tourist although it is a short hop to Moscow and could be visited in a day. It's under two hours from Saint Petersburg Airport for the England side.

After the World Cup, local third division side Mordovia Saransk take up residency, with the capacity set to be lowered from 44,000 to 25,000, more suited to a team of their status.

The space freed up will be devoted to other sports including indoor volleyball, basketball and tennis.

Attractiveness rating: 1/10

The 44,000-capacity Mordovia Arena in Saransk, situated some 626km south-east of Moscow 
The 44,000-capacity Mordovia Arena in Saransk, situated some 626km south-east of Moscow 

The 44,000-capacity Mordovia Arena in Saransk, situated some 626km south-east of Moscow 

ROSTOV-ON-DON - Rostov Arena

Capacity: 45,000 Opened: Under construction Team: Rostov

Four group matches, one last-16

Over 1,000km south of Moscow, Rostov-on-Don is really moving into the 'long-haul trek' territory for those planning on coming to the World Cup.

Manchester United fans who made the journey to watch their team play Rostov in last season's UEFA Europa League will attest to that.

The gateway to the Northern Caucasus region and the centre of Cossack culture, a visit here should certainly be a break from the norm.

The River Don flows through the heart of everything and the city's open spaces have been designed around it - and so has the new stadium.

Located on the left bank of the river, the varying height of the stands offers panoramas of the city from your seat.

Not that it's quite finished but when it is, Rostov will move in there. The club have never won the Russian Premier League but came mighty close in 2016 when they finished two points behind CSKA Moscow.

It'll be two hours to fly in from Moscow and even longer from the England base right up in the north of the country.

What may concern visitors is Rostov's reputation as one of Europe's most dangerous. In 2015, crime there rose by a staggering 21.5 per cent, though you can expect the authorities to round up trouble-makers ahead of the World Cup. 

Attractiveness rating: 2/5

The stunning design of the stadium in Rostov-on-Don, a city some 1,000km south of the Russian capital Moscow
The stunning design of the stadium in Rostov-on-Don, a city some 1,000km south of the Russian capital Moscow

The stunning design of the stadium in Rostov-on-Don, a city some 1,000km south of the Russian capital Moscow

SOCHI - Fisht Olympic Stadium  

Capacity: 47,659 Opened: 2013 Team: Some Russia matches 

Four group matches, one last-16, one quarter-final

Originally constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the stadium has been overhauled and converted into a football stadium for the World Cup.

It is named after Mount Fisht, a peak in the Caucasus mountains and the silhouette of the stadium resembles a snow-capped mountain.

The Black Sea resort, some two hours from Moscow by plane, is incredibly popular with tourists and has become something of a sports hub, with the Russian Grand Prix also held there.

Sochi is nicknamed the 'Russian Riviera' but you can be the judge of that. It does have plenty of waterside restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the sea is warm and the climate will be very hot during the tournament.

However, since the World Cup will be held during the resort's peak tourist season, prices for accommodation will be high.

Visiting fans will enjoy themselves, but it'll be a slog for the team if they are drawn there. England did look at bases around Sochi and the Black Sea region, but Southgate feared the heat would be too much.

It means a three-hour flight and 5,000km round trip from Repino if they do have to play there.

Attractiveness rating: 3/5

The distinctive design of the Olympic Stadium in Sochi, the Black Sea resort in the south of the country popular with tourists
The distinctive design of the Olympic Stadium in Sochi, the Black Sea resort in the south of the country popular with tourists

The distinctive design of the Olympic Stadium in Sochi, the Black Sea resort in the south of the country popular with tourists

YEKATERINBURG - Central Stadium

Capacity: 35,000 Open: 1957 (renovated 2014-2017) Team: FC Ural

Four group matches

At some 1,800km from Moscow and 2,300km from Saint Petersburg, this is as far east as the World Cup gets.

England fans have been talking in hushed tones about Yekaterinburg being the place to avoid and it would be an epic trek if they were unlucky enough to be drawn in a group that requires going there.

The flight time from Moscow is a shade over two hours and the England team are looking at a five hour round trip from Saint Petersburg.

In a similar fashion to the Luzhniki in Moscow, the stadium is a rebuild with elements of the original, opened in 1953, retained to continue the Soviet neo-classicism architectural legacy.

The stadium hit the news this week when, behind the construction schedule and below the 35,000 minimum capacity, temporary stands at each end were added - but situated outside the stadium's oval roof.

Built on a whole lot of scaffolding, the temporary stands looks quite frankly terrifying and anyone sat in them may need binoculars.

As for the city, Yekaterinburg is base camp for those wanting to explore the Ural mountains and the place was central to the events of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

FC Ural will continue to use the stadium after the competition but the temporary seats will be removed and the capacity scaled down to 25,000.

Attractiveness rating: 1/5

A view from behind the stand as construction goes on at the World Cup venue, the Yekaterinburg Arena, earlier this month. The temporary seating outside the stadium has been added to increase capacity to the mandatory 45,000 for a World Cup venue
A view from behind the stand as construction goes on at the World Cup venue, the Yekaterinburg Arena, earlier this month. The temporary seating outside the stadium has been added to increase capacity to the mandatory 45,000 for a World Cup venue

A view from behind the stand as construction goes on at the World Cup venue, the Yekaterinburg Arena, earlier this month. The temporary seating outside the stadium has been added to increase capacity to the mandatory 45,000 for a World Cup venue

The 2018 World Cup venue Yekaterinburg Arena has odd new stands at either end of the pitch as expansion takes place
The 2018 World Cup venue Yekaterinburg Arena has odd new stands at either end of the pitch as expansion takes place

The 2018 World Cup venue Yekaterinburg Arena has odd new stands at either end of the pitch as expansion takes place

The roof and exterior of the venue is protected under Russian law and there has been a novel solution to expansion
The roof and exterior of the venue is protected under Russian law and there has been a novel solution to expansion

The roof and exterior of the venue is protected under Russian law and there has been a novel solution to expansion

 

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