Hosts Russia could not have made a better start to the FIFA Confederations Cup, following up a spectacular opening ceremony with a 2-0 defeat of New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament, according to the official website of FIFA.
Having a Confederations Cup exactly one year ahead of the World Cup, at peak time for European leagues, would not be acceptable.
On Saturday, Russia marched on toward hosting football's biggest party when the rehearsal tournament, the Confederations Cup, kicked off in the $750 million new stadium in Putin's native St. Petersburg. "We are here to watch some great football", Infantino said.
Participants in the 2017 Confederations Cup are hosts Russian Federation, 2014 FIFA World Cup winners Germany, 2015 Copa America champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup champions Australia, 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup winners Mexico, 2016 UEFA Euro Cup champs Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) champions Cameroon.
The hosts continued to crank up the pressure after the break, forcing the impressive Marinovic into a fantastic double save, but Russian pressure finally told when Krasnodar striker Smolov - top scorer in the Russia Premier League for the past two seasons - tapped home from an Aleksandr Samedov cross on 69 minutes.
Both teams were lined up on the pitch for an unusual pre-match protocol, looking up at the VIP boxes to hear from Russia's leader and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, before being able to complete their preparations.
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"It is the experience and knowledge that will be of enormous value for 2018". Portugal and Mexico are other teams in Group A and will face-off on Sunday, June 18.
Heavyweights Germany will clash with Asian Cup champions Australia, Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon and Copa America holders Chile in Group B.
"As much as 44,000 tickets have been sold for the opening match in St Petersburg with 24 hours remaining before the kick-off", Samoura added.
No matter where you are on the planet, you can see what channel the Russian Federation vs Portugal match is available on here.
Some 191 fans have been put on a blacklist barring them from games and legislation introduced to toughen up punishments and deport foreign hooligans.
While Russia defeated New Zealand in the Confederations Cup opener, many questions still surround their predictability.