England fans soak up the atmosphere in Volgograd as excitement levels ratchet up ahead of Tunisia


Policing this vast and sprawling city, laid out in a ribbon along the industrial River Volga in south-western Russia, will be difficult, even for the Russian security forces who are deploying thousands of police officers at the World Cup.

Volgograd stretches for more than 60 miles, making it the longest city in Russia, and the risks of confrontation lie in outlying areas accessible by the antiquated tram system. It helps that the most aggressive Russian football gangs are based back in Moscow, two hours’ flight time away.

According to local media reports, the Cossacks, some carrying the traditional nagaika whip, have been recruited. It has been reported that the Cossacks, famed as a tough war-like group, have been given £200,000 in funding for work during the tournament.  


Volgograd has been sweltering in the lead-up to the World Cup but is set to get even hotter on Monday, with temperatures in the low-30s forecast.

Dealing with variable climate will be one of the challenges of the tournament, with the temperatures of the southerly venues potentially twice as hot as those in chilly Ekaterinburg.

It helps that Gareth Southgate’s players will be kicking off at 9pm, but it can still be warm then. It is tonight’s group match against North Africans which will sap energy the most.


British football police chief Mark Roberts told Sportsmail that laying wreaths and flowers at the shrines to those who died at the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II will help.

There is an eternal flame and monument a short walk towards the railway station from the Fan Zone. It is a Russian ritual to lay red carnations at the Mother Russia statue opposite the Volgograd Stadium.


The under-watering of pitches has been a problem, leaving turf too dry and slowing the ball and attempts to operate at pace. The Egyptians seemed to find this a particular problem at times in their game against Uruguay, who also laboured. This could be particularly problematic in sun-baked Volgograd.

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