Russia won the opening match of the Confederations Cup convincingly, but more importantly, the country demonstrated that one of the most problematic World Cup stadiums could successfully host an international fixture.
The St Petersburg stadium will be a flagship venue for the 2018 World Cup and is supposed to be the most expensive stadium in history, but has proved to be problematic over an extended period of time. Its decade-long construction has been marred by corruption allegations and has overall caused more disappointment than anything else.
The stadium, which will become Zenit St. Petersburg’s home after the World Cup but there had caused worries about being able to host matches at all. When Zenit St Petersburg locked horns with Ural Yekaterinburg last month, the pitch was visibly patchy with uprooted chunks of turf, causing huge concern over the suitability of the venue just for league matches. A new pitch had to be hastily laid before Saturday’s kickoff.
There have been some problems at the stadium, including issues with the “state of the art” retractable pitch technology that made the playing surface vibrate, making it difficult to play on.
On Saturday however, the pitch looked good before and after the match, and there weren’t any noticeable worries.
“I don’t know how it was to play on, but judging by the game, it seemed the quality (of the pitch) was rather good. It allowed us to play,” Cherchesov said.
$1 billion later, Russia unveils its new St Petersburg stadium to launch the Confederations Cup pic.twitter.com/JJ161qPA5v
— ian herbert (@ianherbs) June 17, 2017
The Confederation Cup is a prestigious tournament in the run-up to the World Cup, and is designed to ensure the mistakes from the tournament can be rectified in time for the showcase event in 2018. The start has been good.