Following Russia’s dominant 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia I tried my best to watch as much football as I could, preferably on the big Fan Fest screen, between lessons and other leisure activities. Here’s a rundown of how I managed.
FRIDAY: Egypt 0-1 Uruguay; Morocco 0-1 Iran; Spain 3-3 Portugal
I only saw the first half of Egypt v Uruguay and missed all of Morocco v Iran because I had to teach on Friday afternoon There were a lot of Egyptian fans at Fan Fest but it wasn’t very crowded and because it was in the middle of the day, it was too hot to sit in the sunshine so most people were crowded under the shadows of the tall columns and towers around the Fan Zone. I found a little spot more or less to myself but had to hurry away at half-time and just made it to my lesson in time!
My last lesson finished at 20:45 so I hot-footed it to the stadium to make it in time for the big game that started at 21:00. This took a lot of logistical planning – I needed my books and discs for lessons at another office in the morning but I couldn’t take my bag into the Fan Fest zone or leave it at the office that was closing. My ingenious solution was to leave my back in a locker in the Kvadrat shop – I even took a key earlier in the day to make sure there would be a locker available for me!
The match between Spain and Portugal was epic, definitely one of the best games I have seen in a long time with a terrific performance from Cristiano Ronaldo – Diego Costa got 2 goals too but couldn’t compete with Ronaldo’s hat-trick and last-minute equaliser. I was very impressed by Portugal.
SATURDAY: France 2-1 Australia; Iceland 1-1 Argentina; Peru 0-1 Denmark; Croatia 2-0 Nigeria
I saw the first half of France v Australia between lessons, after that I had to go and finish off City Camp. Fortunately I got back in time for Iceland v Argentina which was a very exciting game. I watched it at home on the small screen because I was getting my place ready for my visitor. I watched the start of Peru and Denmark but had to go collect my friend in the Traktorniy district, by the time we met up and got back all the football was finished, but at least we saw the highlights.
SUNDAY: Costa Rica 0-1 Serbia; Brazil 1-1 Switzerland; Germany 0-1 Mexico
We decided to take a day trip to Kamyshin knowing we would miss the early game, but Costa Rica and Serbia didn’t really excite me much (despite having the only Newcastle United player at the World Cup playing for Serbia – Mitrovic). More on that in another post, but after a mad dash back to Volgograd we were able to catch the second half of Germany’s surprise defeat on the big screen.
In the evening we went to the Fan Fest to watch the Brazil game. As Switzerland were playing, I took along the cowbell that I actually bought in Switzerland, for a bit of extra atmosphere. Instead of sitting on the concrete steps in front of the screen, we sat on the grass to the side where we still had a decent view of the screen. There were lots of people bedecked in Brazil flags and facepaint! But again, it was an interesting and surprising result.
MONDAY: South Korea 0-1 Sweden; Belgium 3-0 Panama; England 2-1 Tunisia
We watched the early game in the hot sunshine, we found a shaded area of grass (and brought a mat to sit on) but the problem today was the flies, thousands and thousands of them flying in your face, in your mouth, in your ears, in your hair, down your shirt! We eventually developed a level of tolerance but it was quite unpleasant.
I completely missed Belgium and Panama because we went to the stadium very early for the England game in Volgograd – this deserves its own blog post!
TUESDAY: Japan 2-1 Colombia; Senegal 2-1 Poland; Russia 3=1 Egypt
Again we decided to take a day trip and forsake the early match (Japan-Colombia), and just about managed to get back in time for the early evening game (Senegal-Poland). We watched it at home on the small screen (with a poor streaming connection) but saw the last two goals.
Of course we went to Fan Fest for the Russia game, like the first one it was very well attended with lots of loud, inconsiderate people standing in everyone’s view and holding up giant flags. It was another good performance by Russia so everyone went home happy (except, perhaps, the Egyptians). At least Mo Salah got a goal.