Over the next month, Russia will serve up a football stroganoff spiced with enthralling matches, a dash of the world's finest players and the biggest prize in the sporting world -- the FIFA World Cup.
The biggest show in the world will kick off today and fans will dig into a buffet of perfectly-timed tackles, exquisite passes, nerve-wracking penalty shootouts and goals that will give birth to legends.
Unfortunately, only one nation will lift the prize while players from 31 other countries will be left to swallow the bitter pill of defeat.
The world is ready for the football feast to begin with state-of-the-art stadia and the World Cup will provide a window into the planet's largest country -- from the chilly climate at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow and the Fisht Stadium on the Russian Riviera in Sochi to the Saint Petersburg Stadium in the 'Window on the West'. Fans must traverse a continent to reach the Ekaterinburg Stadium in Asia and they must cross borders to reach the Kaliningrad Stadium in a Russian enclave separate from the rest of the country and squeezed snugly between Lithuania and Poland.
The event will also provide a welcome boost to the economic situation in the land of Tsars by reinvigorating stagnating sectors of the economy with an influx of foreign visitors and their spending. Although the analysts at Moody's believe the impact will be minimal, others opine that the improvements to infrastructure and investment in tourism could increase the economy's growth potential.
However, although Russia is eager to welcome some of the world's biggest names, there are burning questions in the back of every fan's mind.
Will football pay its dues to Lionel Messi and reward him with the trophy or will Cristiano Ronaldo pull off the miracle of all miracles and lift the cup with his unfavoured Portuguese side? Will it be Neymar who leads his Brazil to glory after their embarrassing exit in 2014 or will it be the star-studded French? Will the Germans retain? Will Spain, with a new head coach a day before the World Cup, be the big team to bite the dust early? Which unfancied underdog will make a deep run?
These issues and many more will be playing on the minds of supporters, but unfortunately there is no Paul the Octopus to provide us with spoilers. The answers will come with time and the ultimate question will be answered at the Luzhniki Stadium on July 15. All we can do till then is sit back and enjoy the ride.