World Cup 2018 diary: A paddling pool, Messi's curse and Ronaldo-led classic

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Our diary on day two of the 2018 World Cup reveals Lionel Messi's little-known curse on the day Cristiano Ronaldo scored three.

Day two of the 2018 World Cup saw some gripping action on the pitch, particularly in Sochi as Cristiano Ronaldo stunned Spain to complete a hat-trick late on and secure a 3-3 draw.

But perhaps just as notable, it has emerged Argentina star Lionel Messi is under a crisp-related curse that is certain to make him feel the crunch.

And although Spain's draw with Portugal was pretty incredible, Kazan saw what will probably go down as the best match to be played in Russia during the World Cup, as Australia and France fans played out a classic.

 

SOCCEROOS LEAVE DEFLATED FRANCE FEELING BLEU

While it may sound a little daft, there really is a whole lot more to the World Cup than just the matches - the fans who have travelled from all corners of the globe are every bit as much a part of the tournament as the players.

And ahead of Saturday's Group C opener between France and Australia in the Kazan Arena, supporters from both sides got together to take part in a dress rehearsal at the nearby Olimp ground - a one-stand stadium.

With a huge media presence, the players milked every minute of the event, belting out their national anthems, producing fancy flicks whenever possible and engaging in light-hearted - albeit occasionally foul-mouthed - banter with watching supporters.

Australia ultimately ran out 5-2 winners despite initially going behind, with their three late goals each sparking a pitch invasion.

 

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

If you had been around the Sochi and Adler area prior to Friday's Group B blockbuster between Portugal and Spain, you could be forgiven for thinking the World Cup was being staged elsewhere.

Locals were far happier to laze around on the beach, soaking up the Sochi sun and improving their tans, while Portuguese and Spanish fans were hard to come by.

However, Fisht Stadium and the surrounding areas finally came to life as Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos rolled into town ahead of what turned out to be a six-goal thriller - the Portugal forward getting three of them.

The World Cup is well and truly underway.

 

MESSI DOOMED AS HE LAYS IT ALL ON THE LINE

Argentina begin their Russia 2018 campaign against everyone's favourite underdogs Iceland on Saturday, but Lionel Messi's final bid for World Cup glory in his peak years is apparently doomed due to a savoury snacks manufacturer.

When discussing the merits of the various tournament favourites with an entertainingly gregarious member of the Krestovsky Stadium accreditation staff, Omnisport were told in no uncertain terms why Messi will not add the greatest prize in international football to his raft of club honours.

"Messi can't do it, it’s the Lay's Potato Chip Curse," our man spat out dismissively.

Sorry, what?

"The Lay's Potato Chip Curse. Messi has an endorsement with them, so he can't win. It started with Andrey Arshavin, who was the great star of Russian football. Then he signed with Lay's and the Russian team went to hell."

In the interest of balance, we should remind you Russia won 5-0 against Saudi Arabia and other brands of crisps are available.

 

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

When Omnisport visited Moscow for the Confederations Cup this time last year, we took a video of the VTB Arena which will be the new home of Dinamo Moscow.

Next to Dinamo Metro Station, the arena will house both Dinamo’s football and ice hockey teams, all in one stunning structure.

This is how it looked in 2017.

Twelve months on and it’s nearing completion, although it remains well behind schedule.

Originally due to be finished in October 2017, delays meant it was earmarked for its inaugural game when Russia hosted Turkey in their final World Cup warm-up match, only for that fixture to be switched to the VEB Arena, the home of CSKA Moscow.

Here’s how it looks today.

 

WATER WAY TO COOL OFF

It was a scorcher in Sochi today as the coastal city hosted its first game of the World Cup - and what a game it was.

Portugal versus Spain shaped up as the fixture of the group stage as soon as the draw for the tournament was made.

Friday’s contest at the stunning Fisht Stadium lived up to its billing, as Ronaldo again demonstrated that he is quite good at football by scoring a treble.

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But there was another match nearby earlier in the day that could rightfully claim to have made more of a splash.

Down by the fan fest there were supporters cooling off in an inflatable paddling pool with a goal at each end - an excuse to dive if ever there was one.

 

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