Luzhniki Stadium: Venue of the Opening and Final Games of Russia 2018


The Luzhniki Stadium, initially named the Central Lenin Stadium, has witnessed both triumph and horror. It was constructed in just 450 days between 1955 and 1956 – a reflection of the growing ambitions of the then Soviet government after the Union’s athletes had returned from their first Olympics, in Helsinki in 1952, with 71 medals.

With an initial capacity of just over 100,000, the stadium was the central venue of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. It was here that Allan Wells took 100m gold for Great Britain and Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe staged their now legendary tussles over both 800m and 1500m.

However, tragedy struck two years later when 66 people died in a rush for the exit during the closing stages of a UEFA Cup match between Spartak Moscow and Dutch side HFC Haarlem.

Extensively renovated during the 1990s, during which it was renamed Luzhniki (which is a rough translation of the Russian word for ‘meadows’ and refers to the flood meadows on the bend of the Moskva River where the stadium is built), it has since hosted the 1999 UEFA Cup final, in which Parma defeated Marseille, and the 2008 Champions League final, which saw Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties.

During redevelopment work for the 2018 World Cup, the stands were divided into two tiers and the athletics track removed, with the exterior of the stadium preserved. This summer, it will become the fifth stadium to have hosted the finals of the World Cup, the European Cup/Champions League and featured as a main stadium of the summer Olympics.

GROUP MATCHES: Russia v Saudi Arabia (Thursday, 14 June; Germany v Mexico (Sunday, 17 June, 16; Portugal v Morocco (Wednesday, 20 June; Denmark v France (Tuesday, 26 June.

KNOCKOUT MATCHES: Last 16 – winners of Group B v runners-up of Group A (Sunday, 1 July; semi-final 2 (Wednesday, 11 July; final (Sunday, 15 July.