The World Cup circus moves on ... Even as Germany celebrates its triumph, the focus swings to preparations for 2018 in Russia - and whether President Putin can succeed in showcasing his country against a backdrop of concerns over cronyism, cost overruns and human rights. David Pollard reports.
Party time in Berlin. Few celebrations match those of a World Cup victory. Germany's has, says its media, turned it into a ''four-star'' nation - Angela Merkel sharing the spoils almost as much as the team itself. Russia's footballers have little chance of such glory. President Putin is, 'though, hoping the 2018 event will give his country a seat at the top table. The Luzhniki stadium in Moscow will stage the opening match. Built in 1956, it's undergoing a huge renovation for 90,000 spectators - though still bears the hallmarks of its Soviet legacy. It was hit and miss that Brazil's stadiums would be ready for this year's World Cup. Here in Moscow, there's faith. SOUNDBITE (Russian) MOSCOW RESIDENT, KIRILL, SAYING: "I think we've got it all. Stadiums are being built, it's only the cities that we need to bring up to a better state, the bus stops and things like that, so that when foreigners come, they say 'Wow, Russia is so beautiful.'" Twelve stadia in eleven cities will play host - at a cost of $18 billion dollars. At least, that's the cost now. Russia's prime minister has already warned 20 billion is more likely. Others say it'll spiral further - and could be unsustainable for a country already on the verge of recession. While others still say mega budgets for huge sporting events are behind the times. Tom Cannon is a business professor at Liverpool University. SOUNDBITE (English) TOM CANNON, PROFESSOR OF STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL MANAGEMENT SCHOOL, SAYING: ''I think there's a certain amount of questioning now emerging about these giant expenditures. I would be astonished if another country, coming in to bid, would bid the kind of commitment that Brazil's made and Qatar has made. I think that an awful lot more people are looking to the German model, when Germany got the World Cup and predominantly invested in improving its facilities and thinking about the development of the game, rather than a grand spectacular. I don't imagine we'll see another Brazil, Qatar, Russian-type bid in the future.'' Corruption is another worry - after accusations that deals for this year's Winter Olympics in Sochi went to Putin allies. And human rights - especially after the controversy at Sochi of laws banning the spread of so-called ''gay propaganda''. Then there's the Russian team: knocked out in the first round in Brazil. And Putin himself - after Germany's triumph he's no doubt hoping in for something good in 2018 - potentially an election year.