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 By Chris Wright

World Cup portrait exhibition shows Ronaldo, Messi, Salah in style

In a bid to capitalise on the World Cup fervour enveloping the city, the Russian Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg are hosting a very special exhibition for the duration of the tournament.

The "Like The Gods" project is the work of Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli, who paints portraits of various modern football superstars but dressed in historical military and royal uniforms of the past.

All the big hitters are in there, with the likes of Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba all featuring in Birimbelli's star-studded portfolio.

Portraits of Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo by Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli on display at the Like the Gods exhibition featuring paintings of football stars in historical uniforms at the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts
Ronaldo looks sharp in his admiral's uniform.
Portrait of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi by Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli on display at the Like the Gods exhibition featuring paintings of football stars in historical uniforms at the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts.
Messi's beard makes him look particularly fearsome.
Portrait of Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah by Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli on display at the Like the Gods exhibition featuring paintings of football stars in historical uniforms at the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts.
Salah's struggled at this World Cup but you'd still back him to lead you based on this portrait.
Portrait of French footballer Paul Pogba by Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli on display at the Like the Gods exhibition featuring paintings of football stars in historical uniforms at the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts.
Pogba's mischief plays is a fun juxtaposition to the military gear.
A portrait of Argentina's legend Diego Maradona is on display during the opening of the Art Project 'Like the Gods', presented by the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts and Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli in Saint Petersburg, on June, 20, 2018.
Maradona could pull off the hand of God in this garb.

The "Like The Gods" exhibition opened on June 20 and will run for the remainder of the World Cup.

The artist, Birimbelli, first made international headlines a few years ago with similar historically-themed portraits of Roma players, the club he has supported all his life.

All in all, some truly fantastic stuff.

Chris covers the funny side of the game for ESPN FC in the Toe Poke blog.

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