Confederations Cup Diary: Sochi gets to Goretzka and Messi stops by St Petersburg
There was only one match on the Confederations Cup's first Monday but that hasn't stopped our intrepid team from finding items of intrigue from all four host cities.
Day three of the finals included getting to grips with the Moscow's palatial metro, spotting Lionel Messi in St Petersburg and taking in the sights of a Kazan city tour.
Of course, there was the important matter of Germany against Australia in Sochi – a genuinely thrilling five-goal game witnessed by a crowd that had Leon Goretzka feeling a little lifeless.
Here are some of the latest best bits you might have missed from Russia...
MOSCOW'S A-MAZE-ING METRO
Most underground systems around the world are simply a functional way of getting from A to B as quickly as possible.
Not so in Moscow, where the Metro is a spectacular array of different architectural styles – from Baroque to Art Deco to Futurism.
Initially commissioned by Joseph Stalin to showcase the possibilities of communism, it remains a monument akin to a National Heritage site.
The grandeur of the Moscow metro system is something else. pic.twitter.com/P1L6XuLM0K
— Jon Fisher (@fisherjon10) June 19, 2017
But, while that's all well and good, to us non-Russian speakers, it remains a place as baffling as it is beautiful!
Which way for Red Square, left or right?!? pic.twitter.com/TSrBg5w1gA
— Jon Fisher (@fisherjon10) June 19, 2017
MESSI MAKES CONFEDS BOW IN ST PETERSBURG
Argentina missed out on a place at this tournament after losing both the World Cup and 2015 Copa America finals.
Those defeats to Germany and Chile mean Messi is yet to taste success on the major senior international stage but the Barcelona star has at least made an appearance in Russia. Well, sort of.
This proud waxwork was spotted by the Omnisport team on the ground in St Petersburg, standing in pride of place at a sports bar in one of the city's riverside complexes.
The likeness isn't too bad, although the hair and beard could use an update...
— James McCarthy (@jamessmccarthy) June 19, 2017
KAZAN'S CULTURAL CAULDRON LIVES UP TO ITS NAME
Often described as the meeting point between Europe and Asia, Kazan is a city boasting an estimable blend of cultures and faiths.
The Tatarstan capital boasts some incredible sights, including the Kazan Kremlin, Kul Sharif Mosque and Suyumbike Tower, but none quite sum up this brilliantly mixed-up city as well as the Kazan Family Centre.
The brainchild of sculptor Dashi Namdakov, this 32-metre building is designed to honour the city in a literal sense, given that the word 'Kazan' means 'cauldron' or 'melting pot'.
This vast cauldron-shaped space, which is flanked by dragon and winged snow leopard statues and is lit at night to give the impression of simmering flames, is first and foremost a wedding venue.
Outwardly ostentatious but with real human feeling at its core, it's a perfect summation of the region.
The Kazan cauldron, complete with winged snow leopards. Not bad as wedding venues go. pic.twitter.com/1CLYuWPtzU
— Joe Wright (@JoeWright004) June 19, 2017
SILENT SOCHI GETS TO GORETZKA
Countless stars of the world game have been inspired to greater heights by a crowd roaring them on or hostile opposition fans baying for blood. But Germany midfielder Goretzka appears to be cut from a different cloth.
The Schalke youngster had a hand in Lars Stindl's fifth-minute opener in the world champions' entertaining 3-2 win over Australia in Sochi and won a penalty for Julian Draxler to convert, before rounding off an accomplished showing with his first international goal.
Such a proud moment might jar slightly for Goretzka, given he was sprung into action by how passively quiet the crowd gathered at Fisht Stadium were.
"I have to be honest, before the game in the players' tunnel it felt like a funeral because it was so quiet," he said, before offering some advice to eventual man-of-the-match Draxler over the task they were about to undertake.
"Then I said to Jule, 'Make sure to wake up the stadium'."
Thankfully for Goretzka, Draxler and company, Australia chose to be compliant with their surroundings and were soon caught napping.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 19, 2017
FISH-T-Y GOINGS-ON AS ORGANISERS ENDURE ANOTHER BLIP
On the safe assumption Goretzka reads our daily diary with avid interest, it might be worth offering an explanation over the stony reception the 22-year-old found within Sochi's Olympic Park.
It seems someone behind the scenes at Fisht Stadium got their timings wrong because the pre-match ceremony – the unusual FIFA bells and whistles of Fair Play banners, big team letters, a centre-circle cloth and an atmospheric drum soundtrack – was laid on as the substitutes took their seats on the bench.
Then, nothing. No music, no teams and a confused silence. Many of the officially confirmed 28,605 attendance were yet to take their seats and the collective hush made for a surreal experience moments from kick-off.
The sideshow to all this was two small packs of photographers, roughly a dozen from each near corner of the field, being guided towards the players' tunnel to take their best shots surrounded by Russia 2017 volunteers chaperoning them with a big rope, essentially herding them like cattle.
In summary, Leon, it was quiet because people were trying to work out what on earth was going on.
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) June 19, 2017