Commentary Box: Cheers to rip-roaring Russia

The 2018 FIFA World Cup got off to the perfect start for the host nation as Russia thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match in Group A today.

Not even the most patriotic Russian fan would have predicted such a hammering, but the Russians delivered in front of their home fans at the Luzniki Stadium in Moscow. This was the biggest win by a host nation in the opening match since 1934. The team was as cool, calm and confident as national president, Vladimir Putin. Putin himself seemed impressed as the fifth goal struck the net – that coming from a man who doesn’t show much emotion.

The most emotion though came from the fans, players and coaching staff who celebrated each goal with absolute exultation. Tears of joy flowed on the fans faces as they saw a dream start develop into football heaven.

This is exactly what the World Cup is all about – nations rejoicing in their teams success and getting behind a team. This is especially important for the host nation as this just increases interest in the tournament as a whole.

Denis Cheryshev, Aleksandr Golovin and Artem Dzuyba were excellent for the Russians with Cheryshev scoring the goal of the tournament thus far, with a left foot shot which curled spectacularly into the top-corner.

The Russian team was not only stars, they were relentless red stars. They were not only as bold as eagles, but they represented every bit of boldness and tenacity as the famous double headed eagle with which this proud nation associates itself.

Khoroshaya Rossiya!

Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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