As the biggest carnival of World football is knocking on the door we look through some of the stadiums in which the players will write the new history.
Today we take a look at Luzhniki Stadium, where the opening match will be played between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Capacity: 81,006 seats
Luzhniki Stadium, initially called Central Lenin Stadium, was built between 1955 and 1956. It was the result of the ambition of the Soviet leadership to upgrade the country’s sports facilities after the Soviet Union had tasted its first post-war successes at the 1952 Olympics.
Works on Luzhniki Olympic Complex started in 1954 and construction of its centrepiece stadium, also called the Grand Sports Arena, in 1955. The stadium got finished in just 450 days and officially opened on 31 July 1956.
Luzhniki Stadium served as the centrepiece stadium of the 1980 Olympics, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics events, football finals, and equestrian programme. When Russia got awarded the 2018 World Cup, it was soon clear that Luzhniki Stadium would host the final and as a result had to undergo a large redevelopment. It hosted it’s last football match in May 2013 and closed following the IAAF Athletics World Championships in August 2013.
Redevelopment works entailed the complete reconstruction of the stands, adding a second tier, the removal of the running tracks, and an expanded roof structure. The characteristic exterior of the stadium was left intact. Works were completed in the summer of 2017, and the first football match at the reopened stadium, a friendly between Russia and Argentina (0-1), was played on 11 November 2017.
Important Games Played Previously:
In 1999, Luzhniki Stadium hosted the UEFA Cup final between Parma and Marseille (3-0), and in 2008 the Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea (1-1).
Did You Know?
In 1982, a stadium disaster took place at the stadium during a second round UEFA Cup match between FC Spartak and Dutch side HFC Haarlem. In the dying seconds of the match, people started rushing for the exits to make it to the metro before the rest of the crowd. When someone fell on the icy staircases, chaos ensued, and the resulting crush and domino effect killed 66 people.
Until the 1990s, the roofless stadium could hold just over 100,000 spectators. In 1996, the stadium got extensively renovated, which included the construction of a roof over the stands and the refurbishment of the seating areas, which resulted in a decrease of capacity.
Matches To Be Played In The Venue In This WC:
Apart from the final, Luzhniki will also host the opening match, three further first round group matches, a round of 16 match, and a semi-final.