During odd numbered years, summer's a tough time for football fans. With no World Cup or European Championships to keep our appetite for arbitrary ball shepherding satiated, the months seems to drag on eternally. Some broadcasters have the utter temerity to stick cricket on the box, and act as though that's a suitable substitute. Cricket! I ask you...
Whilst most tournament-less summers result in nihilistic navel gazing as we desperately scrabble for a scintilla of soccer, subsisting on the joy of a kit launch and feigning excitement at under-19 championships, those in a pre-World Cup year do at least offer a slight reprieve in the Confederations Cup. But we all know we're kidding ourselves by pretending it's anything more than a trumped-up friendly junket designed to please FIFA sponsors. The tournament generally acts as nothing more than a World Cup dress-rehearsal, with half-hearted kick-abouts and swathes of empty seats. Its prestige and popularity are so lacking that its future faces uncertainty. (And not least because of the fallout that'll arise from the Qatari addition. An extra, pointless summer playing in blazing sun? That'll go down well)
The football's generally a bit naff, then, but it does have its merits. As a scouting opportunity during the season of high-transfer activity, it's golden. With teams naming experimental squads, there'll be a host of young players aiming to make an impression in Russia ahead of a potential transfer. Others, having already concluded their business, will offer fans of a glimpse of what to expect in the coming season.
Russia's basically a shop-window for clubs this summer - and everything Moscow.