There is just one week to go until the kick-off of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Opening Match, when hosts Russia will face Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Teams and supporters are touching down across Russia as anticipation and excitement grows across the world of football. And among those gearing up for the world finals with enthusiasm is Gianni Infantino.
"What I’m looking very much forward to are the matches – to see the ball rolling, to see the fans celebrating, to see the most beautiful spectacle in the world," he said.
The FIFA President was speaking as he sat down with FIFA.com to talk about his expectations for Russia as a Host Country, the journey so far and aspects of the competition that he looks forward to most personally as a fan.
"What is nice about the World Cup is that there are always surprises, right?" he said. "Of course at the end you will maybe have the usual teams, but maybe there will be a surprise too, or some players that we have never seen. I am looking particularly forward to watching
those teams who have qualified for the first time."
Ready for action
Infantino also declared Russia "100 per cent ready" to host the tournament, and predicted that supporters visiting the country will leave with their hearts warmed and their perceptions altered.
"One week before kick-off, I think we can say that Russia is 100 per cent ready and the whole world will witness how welcoming the country is and how the organisation will work out. It will be a great experience for everyone.
"The World Cup has this unique faculty of being able to change the perception people have about a place, about a country. People will see Russia as a different country: as a country that is welcoming the world, as a country that is festive, that wants to celebrate, that wants to be open."
Watch the full interview in the clip above to hear what the FIFA President had to say ahead of the Opening Match.