Research, the Flea Market and a Spanish Inquisition

Tuesday for me was spent catching up on research, as there is no point trying to get your head around 64 games at the World Cup unless you put the work in. The Football knowledge you have lodged in your mind helps of course, but with GAA, Horse Racing and Golf to worry about, along with the rest of the day job, it's important to read and watch as much as you can. It makes it easier to react without reverting to notes. So when Spain sacked Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday, I had a bank of information in my memory to help frame the story in my mind when I contributed to the first World Cup Daily on Off the Ball with Eoin Sheahan and Phil Egan. It's tricky enough talking to camera in front of the Bolshoi Theatre without having to snoop at a page every 3 seconds. As journalists, we are paid to know things and inform and entertain our audience as best we can. 

You will get a sense on how I constructed my research on Brazil below, but I almost felt like ripping up the Spain brief following that crazy news today, the first earthquake of the tournament. Fernando Hierro will be a 'hierro' if Spain win the World Cup after this. It just goes to show that for all the magazine supplements, squad lists and sweepstakes, it's always worth waiting until the proverbial horse is in the stalls before calling it. I will submit my preview and predictions here in the morning. 

 

This afternoon I visited the Izmailovsky Market, well off the beaten tourist track to source some Soviet Union memorabilia which I will bring home, but also share with you over the coming days in digital form. Haggling is fun, but I didn't take liberties with the locals. 

The Moscow metro, which is the best way of getting around, has its own idiosyncratic beauty, illustrated by this statue of Lenin with the hammer and sickle in the background. The architecture is superb, classy and unique. And the trains arrive literally every minute. One quirk I noticed. When you are going into the city, it's a gentleman on the intercom. When you are going out of the city, it's a lady.

The day finished with a guest appearance on Capital FM, Russia's only English speaking radio station. Tomorrow it's the opening ceremony, at which Robbie Williams and Russian operatic singer Aida Garifullina will perform, followed by Russia v Saudi Arabia at 18.00 local time, 16.00 Irish time.

I hope the home side win and get the 2018 World Cup off to a cracker. 171 goals were scored 4 years ago. Let's hope that number is surpassed. Let's hope the 'Greatest Show on Earth', 'O Jogo Bonito' lives up to its billing. Enjoy your World Cup!