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World Cup diaries: A visit to Stalin's Dacha

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Enticing Ekaterinburg Arena stands out from the rest

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 By Nick Ames

Egypt need Mohamed Salah to be fit, firing in must-win game vs. Russia

After Mohamed Salah watched Egypt's loss to Uruguay from the bench, the FC crew examine how cautious Egypt should be with their superstar.
ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop is shocked Egypt's Mohamed Salah didn't feature against Uruguay, who capitalised late to keep pace with Russia in Group A.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- For a man of modest demeanour, Mohamed Salah has the keenest sense of theatre. Over the past 12 months, storylines at club and international level have bent to his will, and even when things turned against him in the Champions League final, the biggest of all was the injury that threatened his participation at the World Cup.

Now the stage is set for Salah to make his most dramatic intervention of all: Egypt need him to rise, Lazarus-like, from the treatment table to...

World Cup diaries: A visit to Stalin's Dacha

If you really want to see the scope and extent of Vladimir's Putin's soft power, come to Sochi. It's a town of palm trees and sunshine, heat and humidity, a resort on the Black Sea that Russians (and those from neighbouring (and friendly) countries visit to escape colder climes. A shorts-and-sandals place.

Yet in July 2007, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to give Sochi the 2014 Winter Olympics. Imagine that: A beach resort hosting the winter Games. It's a subtropical climate, the...

Russia World Cup star Denis Cheryshev's luck is finally in

No host nation has ever lost it's opening World Cup match as Russia put on a clinic in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia.
The FC crew break down Russia's hot start to the World Cup and try to temper expectations ahead of their remaining group stage games.
ESPN FC's Kasey Keller praises Russia's direct play and how well they used their strengths in a convincing 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia.

Two things caught the eye as Denis Cheryshev took his place at the news conference after Russia's opening World Cup fixture, in which he scored a magnificent brace in the host's 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

Firstly, he was astonished and unprepared. After all, Cheryshev wasn't expected to be at the tournament. Pundits were surprised to find his name in Stanislav Cherchesov's preliminary squad, and he was initially supposed to be left out in favour if Dynamo Moscow's rising talent Aleksandr Tashaev....

Moscow transformed by World Cup as Russian, foreign fans party hard

Join ESPN in Russia, as we go on the lookout for one of the World Cup's biggest stars, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Russia and Saudi Arabia fans are out in full force ahead of the 2018 World Cup opener.
Spain fans still remain optimistic of winning the World Cup despite the sacking of Julen Lopetegui as they face Portugal.
The World Cup is here and Anthony Richardson and Ian Fiveankles will be right by your side everyday throughout the tournament, setting the scene in Russia, highlighting games and playing anti-fantasy football.

Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a series of essays profiling all of the cities hosting World Cup games this summer. Eliot Rothwell visited every venue to get a sense of how preparations were going and enjoy the atmosphere.

MOSCOW -- In the shadow Moscow State University's imposing Stalinist tower, chants of "Rossiya" dominated the evening. It was the fifth goal, Aleksandr Golovin's free kick, that really did it. The 4-0 score was beyond the expectations of many Russian fans, but 5-0 was...

By ESPN Staff

World Cup diaries: Blaming Buenos Aires in quirky Ekaterinburg

There's a sense of quirk in Ekaterinburg that is entirely unexpected. Coming in here the only association one had was the grim, grisly end of the Romanovs. The city, built to tap into the vast mineral resources in Siberia, changed its name to Sverdlov to break with the Czarist past but country and city reverted to their old names in the 1990s.

You'd expect a gritty, industrial town, lined perhaps with factories and workshops. They possibly do exist, and there is homage to them in city-centre installations,...

From Real Madrid goat to Russia hero, Denis Cheryshev scores another memorable first

The FC crew break down Russia's hot start to the World Cup and try to temper expectations ahead of their remaining group stage games.
ESPN FC's Kasey Keller praises Russia's direct play and how well they used their strengths in a convincing 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia.
No host nation has ever lost it's opening World Cup match as Russia put on a clinic in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia.
Philippe Coutinho, Neymar and the Brazil squad star in episode two of Project Russia, also featuring a momentous day for U.S. soccer.

It was December 2, 2015. And Denis Cheryshev, a Real Madrid academy product and the first Russian to ever play for Los Blancos, scored his first goal for the club in a 3-1 away victory over Cadiz in the two teams' Copa del Rey round-of-32 second-leg tie.

Two days later, Real were eliminated from the competition. Cheryshev had been barred from playing in the match. He should have been serving a suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards in the previous edition of the tournament, back...