But it’s not a reflection of the recent poor on-pitch performances of the hosts, rather the location of the match – 65 metres below ground at one of the city’s metro stations.
Mezhdunarodnaya station – which means ‘International’ – hosted the first match in a series of four games which are also scheduled to take place over the next month on the open roof of a hotel, the deck of a ship and, more mundanely, a football pitch. The locations reflect above and below ground, as well as water and air.
Organisers told Reuters they want to show the universal appeal of soccer and to demonstrate that St Petersburg is ready to welcome fans from across the globe.
St Petersburg will host four group stage games as well as one of the round of 16 matches, a semi-final and the third place game during the World Cup.