After billions of dollars spent, new stadiums built and much anticipation, the 2018 World Cup got underway with a musical opening ceremony.
English pop star Robbie Williams, former Brazil striker Ronaldo -- scorer of 15 goals over three tournaments -- and Russia soprano Aida Garifullina were the star attractions at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium before the opening match of Russia 2018 kicked off.
Russia hosts 2018 World Cup
Opening ceremony held in Moscow
Tournament runs from June 14-July 15
Thirty minutes before the Group A opener between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, the show began with a performance of work by celebrated Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
Williams then gave proceedings a more modern twist by singing "Let Me Entertain You."
Russian musicians featured heavily, from harpist and composer Alexander Boldachev to pianist Daniil Trifonov and Garifullina, who performed a duet with Williams. The pair sang the pop star's worldwide hit "Angels."
Ronaldo and World Cup mascot Zabivaka made a symbolic first kick with an official match ball -- a ball which was sent to the International Space Station in March, returning to earth on June 3.
Around 800 people performed in a ceremony which celebrated the start of football's showpiece event. A tournament which will feature 32 teams competing in 64 games across 11 cities.
- Robbie Williams and Ronaldo kick off World Cup 2018
- World Cup 2018: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rivalry heats up
- World Cup: Is Russia 2018 the last chance for Messi and Ronaldo?
- World Cup Fast Facts
- World Cup 2018: Schedule and results
- La estrella de la semana: Margot Robbie
- World Cup gambling in Kenya
- Cristiano Ronaldo Fast Facts
- FIFA gives VAR the green light for 2018 World Cup
- How the world reacted to Cristiano Ronaldo's fifth Ballon d'Or