USSR national football team

USSR national football team

Infobox National football team
Name = Soviet Union
Badge = Soviet Union football federation.gif
FIFA Trigramme = URS
Honours =
Nickname = Red Army
Association = Football Federation of USSR
Most caps = Oleg Blokhin (112)
Top scorer = Oleg Blokhin (42)
Elo max = 1
Elo max date = 1963, 1966, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1987-88

First game = flagicon|Soviet Union|1923 USSR 3 - 0 Turkey flagicon|Turkey (Moscow, USSR; 16 November, 1924) Last International flagicon|Cyprus Cyprus 0 - 3 USSR flagicon|Soviet Union (Larnaca, Cyprus; 13 November, 1991)
Largest win = flagicon|Soviet Union|1955 USSR 11 - 1 India flagicon|India (Moscow, USSR; 16 September, 1955) flagicon|Finland Finland 0 - 10 USSR flagicon|Soviet Union|1955 (Helsinki, Finland; 15 August, 1957)
Largest loss = flagicon|England England 5 - 0 USSR flagicon|Soviet Union|1955 (London, England; 22 October, 1958)
World cup apps = 7
World cup first = 1958
World cup best = Fourth place, 1966
Regional name = European Championship
Regional cup apps = 5
Regional cup first = 1960
Regional cup best = Winners, 1960

The USSR national football team was the national football team of the Soviet Union. It ceased to exist on the break up of the Union. FIFA considers the CIS national football team (and ultimately, Russia national football team) as its "successor team" [] allocating its former records to them; nevertheless, a large percentage of the team's former players came from outside Russian SFSR, mainly from Ukrainian SSR, and following the break up of the Soviet Union, some such as Andrei Kanchelskis from the former Ukrainian SSR continued to serve in the new Russia national football team.

The Soviet Union failed to qualify for the World Cup only twice, in 1974 and 1978, and attended seven finals tournaments in total. Their best finish was fourth in 1966, when they lost to West Germany in the semifinals, 2-1. The USSR qualified for five European Championships, winning the inaugural competition in 1960 when they beat Yugoslavia in the final, 2-1. They finished second three times (1964, 1972, 1988), and fourth once (1968), when, having drawn with Italy in the semi-final, they were sent to the third place playoff match by the loss of a coin toss. The Soviet Union also won the gold medal in the 1956 and 1988 Summer Olympics, the inaugural World Youth Championship in 1977, and the Under-16 World Championship in 1987.


The first international match played by a Soviet team came in August 1923, nine months after the establishment of the Soviet Union, when a Russian SFSR team beat Sweden 2-1 in Stockholm.cite web | title=Soviet Union - International Results 1911-1935| work=RSSSF | url=| accessdate=January 13 | accessyear=2007 ] The first formally recognised match played by the Soviet Union took place a year later, a 3-0 win over Turkey. This and a return match in Ankara were the only officially recognised international matches played by the USSR prior to the 1952 Summer Olympics, though several unofficial friendlies against Turkey took place in the 1930s. The 1952 Olympics was the first competitive tournament entered by the USSR. In the preliminary round, Bulgaria were defeated 2-1, earning a first round tie against Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia led 5-1, but a Soviet comeback in the last 15 minutes resulted in a 5-5 draw. The match was replayed, Yugoslavia winning 3-1. [cite web | title=Yugoslavia National Team List of Results 1950-1959| work=RSSSF | url=| accessdate=January 13 | accessyear=2007 ]

The USSR entered the World Cup for the first time at the 1958 tournament, following a qualification playoff against Poland. [cite web | title=1958 - Qualifying competition| work=Planet World Cup | url=| accessdate=January 13 | accessyear=2007 ] Drawn in a group with Brazil, England and Austria. They collected three points in total, one from England and two from Austria. USSR and England went to a playoff game, in which Anatoli Ilyin scored in the 67th minute to knock England out. The USSR were then eliminated by the hosts of the tournament, Sweden, in the quarter finals.

The inaugural European Championships in 1960 marked the pinnacle of Soviet footballing achievement. Easily progressing to the quarter-finals, the team were scheduled to face Spain, but due to the tensions of the Cold War, Spain refused to travel to the Soviet Union, resulting in a walkover. In the semi-final, the Soviet team defeated Czechoslovakia 3-0 and reached the Final, where they faced Yugoslavia. In the final, Yugoslavia scored first, but the Soviet Union, led by legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin, equalized in the 49th minute. After 90 minutes the score was 1-1, and Viktor Ponedelnik scored with seven minutes left in extra time to give the Soviets the inaugural European Championship. In the 1962 FIFA World Cup, the Soviet team was in Group 1 with Yugoslavia, Colombia and Uruguay. The match between USSR and Colombia was a goal duel (ended 4- 4) which Colombia managed to avoid a huge defeat against the Soviet side with a series of goals (68’, 72’, 86’). Star goalkeeper Lev Yashin was in poor form both against Colombia and Chile. His form was considered as one of the main reasons why USSR team couldn’t manage to gain more success in the tournament.

In 1964, the USSR attempted to defend their European Championship title, defeating Italy in the Eighth-finals (2-0, 1-1) and to reach the Quarter Finals. After two matches against Sweden, Soviet side became victorious by an aggregate win (1-1, 3-1). Then USSR team went to Spain where the Final Leg of the tournament was held. In the semi-finals, the Soviet Union defeated the Danes 3-0 in Barcelona but their dreams about winning the title consecutively were all gone when they lost the Final against Spain, the hosts.

The 1966 FIFA World Cup was the tournament which the USSR team reached their best result by finishing the cup as the fourth. USSR was in the Group 4 with North Korea, Italy and Chile. In all three matches, USSR team managed to defeat their rivals. The Soviet team then defeated Hungary in the quarter finals thanks to the effective performance of their star, Lev Yashin but their success shadowed by the two defeats they had in 25th and 28th of July, against West Germany in the semi finals and against Portugal in the third place play off match, respectively. The 1966 squad was the second best scoring Soviet team in the World Cup history, by scoring 10 goals.

For the 1968 European Championships, the qualification competition was played in two stages; a group stage (taking place from 1966 until 1968) and the quarter-finals (played in 1968). Again, only four teams could reach to the Finals which were held in Italy. The Semi Final match between USSR and Italy ended 0-0. It was decided to toss a coin to see who reached the final, rather than play a replay. Italy won, and went on to become European champions. On 8 June, Soviets were defeated by England in the Third Place match which made Soviet Union the worst team in the final series.

The 1970 FIFA World Cup started with the opening match between Mexico and USSR. The Soviet team became the first team to make a substitution in the World Cup history in this match. Other opponents of USSR in their group were Belgium and El Salvador. Soviet team easily qualified to the quarter final where they lost against Uruguay at extra time. This was the last time that USSR could reach to the quarter finals.

The final tournament of the 1972 European Championships took place between June 14 and June 18, 1972. Again, only four teams were in the finals. Soviets defeated Hungary 1-0, a second half goal. The Final would be between West Germany and USSR. The match ended with a clear victory of the German side thanks to the effective football of Gerd Müller. This tournament was one of the two tournaments which USSR finished as runner-up. The rest of the 1970s were bleak for the Soviets, who were disqualified from the 1974 FIFA World Cup as a result of refusal to play Chile in the aftermath of the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, and failed to qualify for the 1978 FIFA World Cup or the 1976 and 1980 European Championships.

The 1982 FIFA World Cup was the USSR's first major tournament appearance for a decade. The USSR was in Group 6 with Brazil, Scotland and New Zealand. Goals by Socrates and Eder marked the defeat of the Soviet side against Brazil in the first group match, and they were eventually eliminated in the Second Round by finishing the group in second place, when they defeated Belgium only 1-0 and drew Poland, 0-0. In 1984 the Soviets again failed to qualify for the European Championships, but succeeded in qualifying for the 1986 FIFA World Cup. USSR were in Group C with Hungary, France and Canada. Soviet team enjoyed a successful group stage by scoring nine goals and finishing the group in the first place. It seemed like the Soviet side managed to forget their unsuccessful performance in 1982, but they lost to Belgium 3-4, amid referee controversies, in the round of 16. Despite their poor performance in the cup, USSR team was the best scoring Soviet team in the World Cup history, by scoring 12 goals.

After failing to qualify for the tournament for three consecutive times (1976, 1980, 1984), the Soviets managed to qualify for the 1988 competition, the last time the USSR national football team took part in the European Football Championship. The Finals were held in West Germany. Eight teams were participating in the Final Round this time. USSR finished Group B as leaders above the Netherlands and reached the Semi Finals. There, the Soviets defeated Italy 2-0 and gained the final ticket. The match was between USSR and Netherlands, rival of USSR from Group B. Netherlands won the match with a clear score and became the European champions.

The final major championship contested by Soviet team was the 1990 FIFA World Cup, where they were drawn in Group B with Argentina, Romania and Cameroon. The only success of USSR in the whole tournament came when they managed to beat the group leaders, Cameroon by 4-0. The Soviet team lost their other matches and couldn’t qualify from the group. The USSR qualified for Euro 92, but the breakup of the Soviet Union meant that the finals place was instead taken by the CIS national football team. After the tournament, the former Soviet Republics competed as separate independent nations, with FIFA allocating the Soviet team's record to Russia.

Notable players

European Championship record

*1960 - Champions
*1964 - Runners-up (lost to Spain)
*1968 - Fourth place (lost to Italy in semifinals (note: on coin toss), lost to England in 3rd place match)
*1972 - Runners-up (lost to West Germany)
*1976 - "Did not qualify" - Quarterfinals (lost to Czechoslovakia)
*1980 - "Did not qualify"
*1984 - "Did not qualify"
*1988 - Runners-up (lost to Netherlands)
*1992 - "succeeded by CIS"


See also

*USSR national under-21 football team

External links

* [ RSSSF archive of results 1912-]
* [ RSSSF archive of most capped players and highest goalscorers]
* [ Football in USSR]
* [ Russia Team Profile including old USSR World Cup qualifications]
* [ Russia (USSR) National Football Team]
* [ Team history]


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