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Zenit St Petersburg

Ground: Stadion Saint-Petersburg

Visits: 1

Date: 22nd June 2018

Match: Brazil - Costa Rica  2-0  (FIFA World Cup)

Attendance: 64 468

Sweden knocked out Italy in the play-offs of the qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Having missed the tournaments in 2010 and 2014 football fans all over Sweden celebrated the 0-0 at the San Siro. As the draw for the group stage was about to take place I was hoping for one Sweden game in St Petersburg or Moscow, the easy destinations in the tournament. Nizhny Novgorod,  Sochi and Ekaterinburg was to be Sweden´s destinations though. Looking at my options I decided to apply for a ticket for the game in Sochi (v Germany) and combine it with Brazil v Costa Rica in St Petersburg. To my delight/surprise I got a ticket for both games. To enter Russia you normally need a visa but for the World Cup a special Fan-ID was introduced. My Fan-ID application was approved but once in Sweden it was stuck at customs. In early May I contacted PostNord (Swedish mail) and they told me package had been sent back to Russia. The reason was I hadn´t paid the invoice sent to me for toll (needed in Sweden for non-EU packages). No invoice had arrived at my house though and I was of course angry and upset at PostNord. I contacted the FAN-ID website and was told I would get an electronic Fan-ID, as a pdf-file. 10 days before I was leaving the e-mail finally arrived and the last hurdle was cleared!

There are direct trains from Helsinki to St Petersburg and I decided to use this route to enter Russia. On Wednesday evening I attended a game in the Helsinki area and at 07.20 on Thursday morning I boarded the Allegro train bringing me to St Petersburg. No problems at the border and around noon I was at my hotel in central St Petersburg. The hotel was pretty basic but my room was ok and the location good. To enter grounds in the World Cup you, besides a ticket, needed a laminated Fan-ID, the electronic one was only for entry to Russia. I went by metro to Sportivnaya where the organizers had a Fan-ID distribution centre. It only took a few minutes for me to (finally) get my laminated Fan-ID. With that sorted I spent the rest of the afternoon with sightseeing in the beautiful city of St Petersburg. St Petersburg has around 5.2 million inhabitants and is the second largest city in Russia. Between 1924 and 1991 the city was named Leningrad. Between 1703 and 1914 the city was known as St Petersburg and in a referendum in 1991 the city got its old name back. Everywhere I went there were plenty of Brazilians and they really had travelled to Russia in huge numbers. Unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy during my sightseeing tour but I managed to visit the main sights and tourist attractions. My last stop was Stadion Petrovskij, the former home of Zenit St Petersburg. It was obviously impossible to get inside but I took a few pictures of the exterior and the enormous floodlights. I hope I one day will be able to attend a match at this ground.

Kick-off for Brazil v Costa Rica was at 15.00 There is a newly built metro station next to the ground but I, since it was only five stations from my hotel, decided to use Krestovsky Ostrov instead. As I entered the metro station near my hotel one of the operators at the barriers asked me “Football ticket?” I was puzzled but once he saw my ticket he opened the barrier and said “Free transport”. From Krestovsky Ostrov you walk for 1.5 km, down the fan mile inside Krestovsky Park, to reach Stadion Saint-Petersburg. The building works started in 2007 and after several delays the stadium could finally open in 2017. Official capacity during the World Cup is 64 468 but there were several temporary stands inside the ground so for domestic games capacity is slight lower. Stadion Saint-Petersburg is one of the most expensive stadiums ever built and in total the cost was around $1.1 billion. Upon entering I was thoroughly searched but everything still wnet quite smoothly. My seat was in level 5 and from there I had a great view. As kick-off approached the ground was turned into a Brazilian home game. There must have been 30 - 35 000 Brazilians inside Stadion Saint-Petersburg and that is an incredible away following. Costa Rica were supported by 4 – 5 000 fans and as Brazil had problems to break down the Costa Rica defense those fans started to believe a miracle was on the cards. Brazil (Neymar) had a penalty appeal turned down by a VAR-decision. 0-0 after 90 minutes but in stoppage time Coutinho and Neymar scored to give Brazil the win. Great scenes inside the ground as the Brazilians celebrated the two goals. After the final whistle I walked back to Krestovsky Ostrov and it didn´t take long to be back at my hotel. Tomorrow I leave for Sochi and Germany v Sweden!

Sightseeing pictures

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View of St Petersburg

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Peter and Paul fortress

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Peter and Paul fortress

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Admirality

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Winter Palace

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Winter Palace

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Alexander column

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St Isaac´s Cathedral

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St Isaac´s Cathedral

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Stadion Petrovskij (the old home of Zenit St Petersburg)

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Stadion Petrovskij

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On my way

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Fan mile

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Closing in

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Brazilian fans

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Information

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Stadion Saint-Petersburg

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Brazilian fans

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West Stand

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North Stand

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East Stand

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Temporary stands

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Brazil v Costa Rica

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Looking good?

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Brazilian fans

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Players and officials entering

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National anthems

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West Stand

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View of play

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Free-kick, Brazil

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North Stand

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East Stand

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Costa Rica fans

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Victory!

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After the match

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Pano

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Pano