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World Cup stories: Jayaditya Gupta in Russia

The 2018 World Cup stories of ESPN's Jayaditya Gupta, updated as he takes in more of the sights and sounds of the host country Russia.

World Cup diaries: A visit to Stalin's Dacha

The study in Stalin's Dacha.
The study in Stalin's Dacha.

Jayaditya Gupta travels by bus from Sochi to Stalin's Dacha - country house - and comes away unsettled by how out of sync the place's surroundings are with the terrible deeds that emanated from there.

First-timers Panama look to upset powerhouse Belgium

Most people know little about Panama other than the canal and the hat. On Monday, in muggy Sochi, they will hope to become stars in their own right.
Most people know little about Panama other than the canal and the hat. On Monday, in muggy Sochi, they will hope to become stars in their own right.

Panama know that if Mexico, their group-mates in the North American qualifying zone, can pull off an upset, they too stand a chance against Belgium.


Fearless Godin a throwback to Milanesque defending

Tackling, blocking, intercepting; Diego Godin is everywhere
Tackling, blocking, intercepting; Diego Godin is everywhere.

Diego Godin plays tough, but plays fair. He is as commanding with the ball as he is without it. And that makes him one of the best around.


Day 4: Blaming Buenos Aires in quirky Ekaterinburg

A modern-day Stonehenge: No one seems to know quite why Ekaterinburg's famous keyboard installation was built.
A modern-day Stonehenge: No one seems to know quite why Ekaterinburg's famous keyboard installation was built.

Jayaditya Gupta appreciates the charms of Ekaterinburg -- but does not forget the lessons learnt at the last World Cup.



Day 3: Tackling time zones and boiled horns for breakfast

A train carrying football fans arrives at Leningradsky Railway Station in Moscow ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
A train carrying football fans arrives at Leningradsky Railway Station in Moscow ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Jayaditya Gupta grapples with different time zones and discovers what happens when the World Cup hosts don't follow the Roman script.



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Day 2: The tourist attraction that is the Moscow Metro

The mosaics on the ceiling of the Mayakovskaya Metro station.
The mosaics on the ceiling of the Mayakovskaya Metro station.

On day two in Moscow, rain and a free transport pass led Jayaditya Gupta to explore the Moscow Metro and he was blown away by what he saw.


Day 1: Mkhitaryan fans, Lenin statues, never-ending escalators

The epitome of private enterprise: A grand statue of Lenin at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium
The epitome of private enterprise: A grand statue of Lenin at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

On day one in Moscow, an excited Jayaditya Gupta makes small talk with an Armenian cabbie and finds himself on a never-ending escalator.