MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. Russia has impressively changed over the recent years and prepared perfectly to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off next summer in 11 cities across the country, Laurent Blanc, a former captain of the French national football team, told TASS on Thursday.
"I was in Russia last time a long time ago and I must say that many changes took place here and they are all for the better," Blanc, who won the FIFA World Cup with his team in 1998, said in an interview with TASS.
"Everything done for the World Cup here is simply magnificent," Blanc said. "Moreover, I think it will be better in summer since the weather will be good. It will be a perfect world championship."
Blanc won the 1998 FIFA World Cup on home ground in France and, according to him, the Russian national squad can also benefit from playing on their soil and could go as far as the semifinals at the upcoming championship.
"I know how it happens at home championships," he said. "You win and then you feel the vigor going from match to match. This is the way not only to clear the group stage but to reach the semifinals. Russia is capable of it, why not."
Blanc, 52, is currently in Moscow and will be one of eight assistants helping at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final Draw, which will be held at the State Kremlin Palace on Friday.
The other seven assistants are Diego Maradona, Fabio Cannavaro, Cafu, Carles Puyol, Diego Forlan, Nikita Simonyan and Gordon Banks. Together with hosts Russia they all represent eight FIFA World Cup winning countries as they will be joined by Miroslav Klose from Germany, who will be the Trophy bearer at the Final Draw ceremony.
After successfully hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup this summer, Russia is now in full-swing preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.