Confederations Cup Diary: Summer 'snow' and Ronaldo mural explained

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The Confederations Cup rumbled into day six with Cameroon taking on Australia and, in the game of the tournament so far, Germany meeting Chile.

As always, there was plenty going on away from the on-field action with our team of reporters out and about across Russia.

Thursday's offering comes in educational form with explanations about the Moscow summer 'snow', the Kazan mural and a look round Dinamo's new home, although all is quiet at the Sochi Autodrom.

 

DINAM-OH THIS LOOKS AMAZING

The new Dinamo Moscow Stadium - VTB Arena Park - is already making its mark on the capital's skyline.

Emerging high above Dinamo Metro station and just off Leningradsky Avenue, it will replace the former ground on the same site.

It's not just a football stadium, though, it is two arenas under one roof with the club's ice hockey and basketball teams also set to be housed here.

The target date for completion is October 22, 2017 to coincide with the birthday of former goalkeeper Lev Yashin.

But, as you can see, there is still much work to be done!

KAZAN'S MURAL-MAD MAYOR HAS THE RIGHT IDEA

We finally have an explanation for the Cristiano Ronaldo mural that appeared in Kazan last week.

The city's mayor, Ilsur Metshin, says it was his idea to have the three-storey artwork painted on a wall opposite the Portugal team hotel.

Metshin invited local graffiti artists to produce the image after inspecting the hotel himself, and he hopes that visitors in the years to come after the Confederations Cup can enjoy the view.

He's also promised to commission something similar for Lionel Messi and any other "stars" who visit the city in next year's World Cup.

It might sound like a whimsical idea but Metshin has shown the way forward when it comes to preparing host cities for these events. 

The Ronaldo mural was produced by local artists on private property, in agreement with the owners. Residents have been encouraged to get involved in turning their city into a venue, rather than simply tolerate the arrival of the big wigs in town.

More of the same would go a long way between now and 2018.

 

SNOWING IN MOSCOW IN JUNE?

Take a stroll around Moscow in June and July and you'd be forgiven for thinking winter has come early.

Floating in the air are small white balls of fluff which zip around on the wind and settle in every nook and cranny.

They are the seeds from the female Balsam Poplar tree - omnipresent in the Russian capital - and are shed every summer, to the frustration of locals who have to put up with the fluff, or pukh as it's known here, getting in the way of everyday life.

Although highly visible in recent days, the pukh has yet to take full effect this year due to the high number of thunderstorms which wash it away.

ALL QUIET IN SOCHI

There were no matches in Sochi on Thursday, which at least left a little more time to reflect on Mexico v New Zealand ending amid scenes akin to the Wild West.

With the sun again beating down on the Black Sea coast, it felt like a good time to go and check out Sochi Autodrom, venue for the Russian Grand Prix and, at this tournament, the home of the secondary non-accredited media centre.

Entering the press room to the giggles of two volunteers because there were no other journalists in the entire facility was not entirely expected. The ghost-town feel in the room overlooking the home straight could not have been much further removed from the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton roaring down there.

The Autodrom also organises press trips to see the sights around Greater Sochi. The Matsesta spa resort, all-year skiing location Gorky Gorod and Joseph Stalin's villa are all on the agenda over the coming days.

However, as the woman working on the welcome desk stated, the trips will be cancelled unless a minimum of 15 sign-ups are achieved. The sad resignation in her eyes suggested this is the expected outcome.

 

GREAT MINI-SCOT!

Away from the press area at the Autodrom, there were welcome signs of human life.

Although the Grand Prix came to town a couple of months ago, petrol heads can enjoy a range of delights at the Auto Museum, splash out on a track day and grab a top-up at the Pit Stop Cafe.

As is customary at such venues, there is also a well-stocked gift shop, where a miniature model of Scotland's former Williams and McLaren driver David Coulthard is yours for just 300 roubles. Bargain.

Incidentally, Coulthard is currently the star of an advert for a brand of alcohol free lager on Russian television, so proving to be an unlikely recurring character at Confederations Cup 2017.