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No filter: Moscow leads quest to show Russia in new light

Press Trust of India  |  Moscow 

From the tree-lined grand boulevards to its ornate underground train stations, to the monolithic-looking suburbs, is illuminating and Moscovites are at the forefront of a quest to show "in a new light", unfiltered by stories.

They are eager to show their breathtakingly beautiful city to the world, befittingly enough, through the 'Beautiful Game's' quadrennial showpiece.

For some, the 2018 World Cup, starting Thursday, is Vladimir Putin's equivalent of China's 2008 Beijing

And the hosts are waiting for their guests as they seek to present their motherland in a different light, without the Soviet era stereotypes, without the haunting stories of the past, told and retold by her adversaries to define the country, whose map was torn apart by history.

"means people from all over the world will converge here. They will stay here and know about and go back with a different image. The perception will change and the spectators will see it in a different light, a local said, two days before the start of the tournament.

Unfortunately enough, observers say there has been no equivalent of the PR campaign witnessed prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics, what with the playing down due to the national team's rapid decline in fortunes.

For a city gearing up to host one of the world's biggest sporting events, the initial build-up had been a bit subdued, but it gathered steam as the tournament's dates approached.

Thousands of foreign journalists are set to descend on the country for the one-month extravaganza.

Many writers and photographers from countries, which are not even part of the tournament, are already at work. But that's how it has always been such is the allure of

The lure is not lost on and even the recent failures of Sbornaya, as the national team is called, have failed to dampen its spirit as far as successfully organising the tournament is concerned.

Be it from hospitality to organising the games. The hulking on every corner can be a put-off but the helpful locals more than make up for the stare with their smiles.

Known to house some of the world's costliest hotels, the enigmatic city has opened itself for travellers the frugal ones included -- from across the world.

But the picture turns grim when the focus shifts to the national team's pre-tournament results and prospects.

By chance (or whatever), Russia have been drawn into a group that has been called by many as the weakest in the history of Worlds Cup.

While are the frontrunners by some distance to top the group, teams such as and give the host nation a chance, but still people here don't seem to be too optimistic of their side shining.

But they seem to care that the organisational aspect is important. Authorities here are leaving no stone unturned to draw attention to the World Cup, Russia's first ever in the tournament's 88-year-old existence.

As part of the build-up, a light show is organised everyday near the famous Red Square, there are and World Cup-themed hoardings on buildings, a tournament branding is seen in front of The Russian capital has dressed itself in a colourful World Cup look.

With 12 matches, including the opening and the final on July 15, leads the host venues. The famous will host the opening game, as well as round-of-16 matches, one semifinal and the final.

The city's will host four group-stage matches and a round-of-16 game.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 12:00 IST