Russian stadiums for World and Confed Cups

Luzhniki Stadium (Supplied)
Luzhniki Stadium (Supplied)

Moscow - Russia will host World Cup 2018 matches at 12 stadiums in 11 cities across the vast country, including four venues that will also stage the Confederations Cup starting June 17.

Moscow's showcase Luzhniki Stadium, capacity: 81 000

Russia's most iconic arena, which opened in 1956 and hosted the 1980 Olympic Games, has undergone a complete renovation to get it ready to hold both the opening match and final of the 2018 World Cup.

Due to hold its first trial game in the autumn after two years of building work, Luzhniki will be the centrepiece of President Vladimir Putin's football extravaganza.

The stadium has previously hosted the 1999 UEFA Cup final, the 2008 Champions League final, and the Rugby Sevens World Cup and IAAF athletics world championships in 2013.

Moscow Spartak's Otkrytie Arena, capacity: 45 000

The home ground of Russia's newly-crowned champions Spartak Moscow since it was built in 2014, the Otkrytie Arena has been the scene of many fiery clashes in the country's top league.

The arena will host three Confederations Cup group matches before opening up to fans for the World Cup.

Saint Petersburg's scandal-mired Krestovsky Stadium, capacity: 68 000

The controversial spaceship-shaped stadium in Russia's historic second city took almost a decade to build and cost an estimated $800 million, sparking allegations of corruption.

Less than a month before it was due to host the opening match of the Confederations Cup, officials were forced to lay a new pitch after the old one broke up during trial games.

Set to become the home of local team Zenit, the arena was also targeted for criticism after it was revealed labourers from repressive North Korea helped build it.

Desperate authorities now insist it is ready to host the Confederations Cup kick off and final and World Cup matches.

Tatarstan's Kazan Arena, capacity: 45 360

The home of two-time champions Rubin Kazan, the stadium opened in 2013 for the Summer Student Games and has also hosted the World Watersports Championship.

The stadium has been at the centre of majority-Muslim Tatarstan region's attempts to put itself on the sporting map and will play host to the Confederations Cup and World Cup.

Sochi's Fisht Olympic Stadium, capacity: 47 600

The arena in the Black Sea resort was in the international spotlight as it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the vastly expensive 2014 Winter Olympics.

Since then it has been re-fitted as a football venue and opened again in March 2017 with a 3-3 draw between Russia and Belgium.

The former Olympics showcase will host both Confederations Cup games and World Cup matches.

Central Stadium in Ural city Yekaterinburg, capacity: 35 000

The venue near the Ural mountains lies some 1 500 kilometres east of Moscow and is the most far-flung ground due to host World Cup games.

Originally built in 1957, the architectural gem is undergoing a major facelift as local authorities look to have their city remembered for something other than the brutal murder of Russia's last royal family.

Volgograd arena on the site of Stalingrad, capacity: 45 000

Formerly called Stalingrad, the southern city of Volgograd was once the scene of the bloodiest battle of World War II as Soviet forces finally turned the tables on Nazi Germany.

Now the purpose-built arena under construction will host four World Cup group clashes before being handed over the local third division side Rotor Volgograd.

Little-known Saransk's Mordovia Arena, capacity: 45 000

Saransk has few claims to fame beyond once being the registered home of tax-avoiding French actor-turned Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu.

But the city of 300 000 is looking to make its mark as a World Cup venue and will host four group matches in the specially-built stadium workers are hurrying to finish.

Volga city Samara's Cosmos Arena, capacity: 45 000

Constructors at the Cosmos Arena in the Volga-river city of Samara have reportedly made last-minute changes to their plans as they scramble to complete the roughly $300 million venue started in 2014 for the World Cup.

So far some 65 percent of the arena has reportedly been completed but authorities insist that it will be finished on time despite growing costs.

Once-closed Nizhny Novgorod's Stadium, capacity: 45 000

During the Soviet period Nizhny Novgorod - then named Gorky after its most famous son, writer Maxim Gorky - was a "closed" military city that foreigners were barred from visiting.

Now it is looking to shake off its past as a place anti-Kremlin dissidents were sent into exile by hosting World Cup matches at its new stadium.

Officials say the pitch is set to be planted in July and that finishing touches will be made to the venue by December.

Rostov Arena near Ukraine, capacity: 45 000

Rostov-on-Don lies just 60 kilometres (40 miles) away from the border with war-torn east Ukraine where Russian-backed rebels continue to battle government forces in a conflict that has claimed some 10 000 lives.

But, despite its location on the edge of a war that has pitched Moscow against the West, the city is aiming to focus on football not fighting when the World Cup rolls around.

Authorities say the new arena should be completed ahead of schedule and will host its first trial match in November.

After the World Cup it will be home to local team Rostov, who last season lost narrowly to eventual winners Manchester United in the Europa League.

Kaliningrad Stadium in Europe, capacity: 35 000

Kaliningrad is the Western-most scrap of Russian territory cut off from the rest of the country and wedged between Poland and Lithuania.

The strategic European exclave on the Baltic Sea was once known by its German name Konigsberg and only fell under Moscow's control after the end of World War II.

The birthplace of philosopher Emmanuel Kant, it is set to complete its new stadium by the end of the year and host four World Cup matches.

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