But not all of the interest was on the field at the Luzhniki Stadium.
We take a look at a few things you might have missed during the tournament curtain-raiser.
PUTIN’S NOVEL WAY TO CELEBRATE
The fact Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman were separated by FIFA president Gianni Infantino in the VIP seats attracted plenty of attention on Twitter.
And Putin certainly had an amusing reaction when Russia opened the scoring through Iury Gazinsky early on.
Presumably Bin Salman felt there had been a foul on a Saudi defender in the build-up to Gazinsky’s header, as he appeared to be protesting to his two neighbours.
Both responded with a shrug and an open-handed gesture, before Putin and Bin Salman made up by shaking hands.
ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley quipped: ‘They’re doing an oil deal, it’s nothing about football.’
Tyldesley completed a full house of Russian World Cup bingo in the first-half by also mentioning that Stalin had a good moustache and referencing a ‘popular Russian TV presenter who actually looks like Borat.’
FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Russian president Vladimir Putin react to Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad bin Salman after Russia open the scoring
The two leaders shook hands in the VIP seats after Iury Gazinsky headed Russia in front
OLD FRIENDS ZANETTI AND MOURINHO REUNITED
The great and the good of football were present at the Luzhniki Stadium as the World Cup kicked off.
Two prominent names on the guest list were Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Argentine legend Javier Zanetti.
The pair posed for a picture together prior to kick-off, with Zanetti writing on Instagram: ‘It’s always special to meet you, Jose! #Inter feelings at the World Cup.’
Zanetti was, of course, Mourinho’s captain at Inter when they won their 2010 Treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League. And he wasn’t the only man to be snapped with the United manager.
After sitting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia throughout the game, Putin was rubbing shoulders with footballing royalty after the game, when he stopped for a picture with the Portuguese boss.
Jose Mourinho and Javier Zanetti pose for a photograph together ahead of the opening game
A VAR-CICAL NUMBER OF OFFICIALS
World Cup history was made in Moscow with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology available for the first time at the tournament.
But one side-effect was the ridiculously long list of officials deployed at the game — and indeed all 64 games in the World Cup — by FIFA.
In addition to the usual referee, two assistants and fourth official, there is also a reserve assistant referee, match commissioner and general co-ordinator inside the ground.
Then you have a further four VAR officials watching the match on a bank of video screens — the actual video assistant referee, an assistant, one for offside decisions and one in support.
So that’s 11 in total — perhaps they’ll field a team at some point.
What’s more, they’re all from different countries so presumably there’s a few translators involved as well.
Welcome to FIFA’s brave new officiating world.
There were no fewer than 11 different officials on duty at the Russia vs Saudi Arabia match
RONALDO IS THE STAR OF THE OPENING CEREMONY
Any World Cup opening ceremony needs some footballing royalty to make things go off with a bang and Brazilian legend Ronaldo certainly fitted the bill here.
Dressed smartly in a suit and tie, the 1994 and 2002 World Cup winner helped deliver the official match ball on to the field at the Luzhniki Stadium before kick-off.
At one point he shaped to smack the ball at furry mascot Zabivaka, only to feint at the last moment and allow a fortunate small child to kick it instead. What a gent.
Brazilian legend Ronaldo was the footballing royalty drafted in for the opening ceremony
The two-time World Cup winner shapes to boot the ball at poor furry mascot Zabivaka
But Ronaldo steps out of the way at the very last minute and allowed a small child the glory
It was then just a case of holding his stomach and waving at the Luzhniki Stadium crowd
THE FIRST OF MANY MEXICAN WAVES… AFTER JUST FOUR MINUTES!
Usually the inevitable consequence of a boring football spectacle is the Mexican wave.
But Russia vs Saudi Arabia had barely even started when the first Mexican wave was started just four minutes in.
We can only assume this will be a regular feature of this World Cup.
Meanwhile, there was a fascinating mix of character in the stands – some were more attractive than others….
The first Mexican wave rippled round the Luzhniki Stadium after just four minutes of the match
This Russian fan went to extraordinary lengths to show his patriotism with the body paint
Indeed, red, blue and white body paint appeared to be the only way to show your support
This photogenic Russian fan was only too happy to fly the flag as the World Cup started
This Russian fan got her hands on the World Cup even if the team are unlikely to next month
RUSSIANS ALREADY CHASING RECORDS
It really couldn’t have gone much better for the hosts Russia as they smashed in five goals against abysmal Saudi Arabia.
In fact, it was the biggest opening win for a host nation since Italy bashed the United States 7-1 way back in the second World Cup in 1934.
Back then, having made the arduous journey to Italy by boat, the Americans had to go straight back home. At least the Saudis have another two group games.