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USSR national football team

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Title: USSR national football team  
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Subject: Diego Maradona, England national football team, Pelé, 1964, 1988, 1972, Lev Yashin, 1958 FIFA World Cup, 1962 FIFA World Cup, Bobby Robson
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USSR national football team

 Soviet Union
Nickname(s) Red Army
Association Football Federation of the Soviet Union
Most caps Oleg Blokhin (112)
Top scorer Oleg Blokhin (42)
Home stadium Central Lenin Stadium (after 1956)
Dynamo Stadium (before 1956)
Vorovsky Stadium (before 1928)
Highest Elo ranking 1 (1963, 1966, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1987–88)
First colours
Second colours
First international
 Soviet Union 3–0 Turkey 
(Moscow, Soviet Union; 16 November 1924)
Last international

 Cyprus 0–3 Soviet Union 
(Larnaca, Cyprus; 13 November 1991)
Biggest win
 Soviet Union 11–1 India 
(Moscow, Soviet Union; 16 September 1955)
 Finland 0–10 Soviet Union 
(Helsinki, Finland; 15 August 1957)
Biggest defeat
 England 5–0 Soviet Union 
(London, England; 22 October 1958)
World Cup
Appearances 7 (First in 1958)
Best result Fourth place, 1966
European Championship
Appearances 6 (First in 1960)
Best result Winners, 1960
Olympic medal record
Men’s Football
Gold 1956 Melbourne Team
Gold 1988 Seoul Team
Bronze 1972 Munich Team
Bronze 1976 Montreal Team

The Soviet Union national football team (Russian: сбо́рная Сове́тского Сою́за по футбо́лу, sbornaya Sovyetskogo Soyuza po futbolu) was the national football team of the Soviet Union.

After the break up of the Union the team was transformed into the CIS national football team (a formality name for a team of the non-existing country of Soviet Union). FIFA considers the CIS national football team (and ultimately, the Russia national football team) as the Soviet successor team[1] allocating its former records to them; nevertheless, a large percentage of the team's former players came from outside the Russian SFSR, mainly from the Ukrainian SSR, and following the breakup of the Soviet Union, some such as Andrei Kanchelskis from the former Ukrainian SSR continued to play 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 Soviet Union 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 national team also participated in number of Olympic tournaments earning the gold medal in the 1956 and 1988 The Soviet team continued to field its national team players in Olympic tournaments despite the prohibition of FIFA in 1958 to field any national team players in Olympics. However in 1960 and in 1964 the Soviets were fielding its second national team.


First games

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.[2] 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 Soviet Union 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 Soviet Union. 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.[3]

Sweden trials and the triumph

The Soviet Union entered the World Cup for the first time at the 1958 tournament, following a qualification playoff against Poland.[4] Drawn in a group with Brazil, England and Austria, they collected three points in total, one from England and two from Austria. Soviet Union and England went to a playoff game, in which Anatoli Ilyin scored in the 67th minute to knock England out. The Soviet Union 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.

The end of the Kachalin's dream-team

In the 1962 World Cup, the Soviet team was in Group 1 with Yugoslavia, Colombia and Uruguay. The match between Soviet Union and Colombia ended 4–4; Colombia scored 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 Soviet Union team did not gain more success in the tournament.

In 1964, the Soviet Union attempted to defend their European Championship title, defeating Italy in the last 16 (2–0, 1–1) and to reach the quarter-finals. After two matches against Sweden, the Soviet side won on aggregate (1–1, 3–1). The Soviet Union team went to Spain where the finals were held. In the semi-finals, the Soviet Union defeated Denmark 3–0 in Barcelona but their dreams of winning the title again were dashed in the final when Spain, the host, scored a late goal, winning a 2-1.

The late 1960s: Semi-finals at World Cup and European Championships

The 1966 World Cup was the tournament which the Soviet Union team reached their best result by finishing in fourth place. Soviet Union was in Group 4 with North Korea, Italy and Chile. In all three matches, the Soviet Union 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 was ended by two defeats on 25 and 28 July, against West Germany in the semi-finals and Portugal in the third place play off match, respectively. The 1966 squad was the second best scoring Soviet team in the World Cup history, with 10 goals.

For the Euro 1968, 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 the finals which were held in Italy. The semi-final match between Soviet Union 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 1968, the Soviets were defeated by England in the third place match.

Kachalin's second attempt

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

The final tournament of the 1972 European Championships took place between 14 and 18 June 1972. Again, only four teams were in the finals. Soviets defeated Hungary 1–0, a second half goal. The final was between West Germany and Soviet Union. The match ended with a victory of the German side thanks to the effective football of Gerd Müller. This tournament was one of the two tournaments in which the Soviet Union finished as runner-up.

Failures in the 1970s

The rest of the 1970s were bleak for the Soviets, who were disqualified from the 1974 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 World Cup or the 1976 and 1980 European Championships.

Beskov recovers the team

The 1982 World Cup was the Soviet Union's first major tournament appearance for a decade. The Soviet Union 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(even though it was a very hard match for the Brazilians), 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 against Poland with an 0–0 result. In 1984, the Soviets again failed to qualify for the European Championships, but succeeded in qualifying for the 1986 World Cup. Soviet Union were in Group C with Hungary, France and Canada. the Soviets used Irapuato, Guanajuato as their training ground in the world cup

Lobanovsky era and demise of Soviet Union

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 surprise package Belgium 3–4 in the round of 16 after extra time. Despite their poor performance in the cup, Soviet Union team was the best scoring Soviet team in the World Cup history, with 12 goals. After failing to qualify for three consecutive times (1976, 1980, 1984), the Soviets managed to qualify for the 1988 competition, the last time the Soviet Union national football team took part in the European Football Championship. The finals were held in West Germany. Eight teams were participating this time. Soviet Union finished Group B as leaders above the Netherlands and reached the semi-finals. There, the Soviets defeated Italy 2–0. In the final between Soviet Union and the Netherlands, rival of Soviet Union from Group B, the Netherlands won the match with a clear score and became the European champions.

The final major championship contested by the Soviet team was the 1990 FIFA World Cup, where they were drawn in Group B with Argentina, Romania and Cameroon. The only success of Soviet Union 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 failed to qualify from the group. The Soviet Union qualified for Euro 1992, 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.

National teams

Former Soviet republics

Nation Confederation International Tournament (s) Notes
 Armenia UEFA
 Azerbaijan UEFA
 Belarus UEFA
 Estonia UEFA
 Georgia UEFA
 Kazakhstan UEFA Member of AFC 1992–2002
 Kyrgyzstan AFC
 Latvia UEFA UEFA Euro 2004
 Lithuania UEFA
 Moldova UEFA
 Russia UEFA 1994 FIFA World Cup
UEFA Euro 1996
2002 FIFA World Cup
UEFA Euro 2004
UEFA Euro 2008
UEFA Euro 2012
2014 FIFA World Cup
2018 FIFA World Cup (Hosts)
 Tajikistan AFC
 Turkmenistan AFC 2004 AFC Asian Cup
 Ukraine UEFA 2006 FIFA World Cup
UEFA Euro 2012 (Hosts)
 Uzbekistan AFC 1996 AFC Asian Cup
2000 AFC Asian Cup
2004 AFC Asian Cup
2007 AFC Asian Cup
2011 AFC Asian Cup

Historical Kits

1958-1989 Home
World Cup 1966 (vs. North Korea)
1970 Home (vs Belgium)
Euro 1972 Away
1975 (vs. Ireland)
1982 Away
1986 Away
1990 Home
1990 Away

Competitive record

UEFA European Championship record

UEFA European Championship record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squads
France 1960 Champion 1st 2 2 0 0 5 1 Squad
Spain 1964 Final 2nd 2 1 0 1 4 2 Squad
Italy 1968 Semi-final 4th 2 0 1 1 0 2 Squad
Belgium 1972 Final 2nd 2 1 0 1 1 3 Squad
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1976 Did Not Qualify
Italy 1980
France 1984
West Germany 1988 Final 2nd 5 3 1 1 7 4 Squad
Sweden 1992 Group Stage 8th 3 0 2 1 1 4 Squad
Total Winners 6/9 16 7 4 5 18 16


Post-Soviet football team competitive record


Notable players (at least 15 caps)

Belorussian SSR Sergei Aleinikov

Soviet managers

Manager Nation Years Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA Win % Qualifying cycle Final tour
Boris Arkadiev Soviet Union 1952 3 1 1 1 8 9 33.33 1952(o)
Vasily Sokolov Soviet Union 1954 2 1 1 0 8 1 50
Gavriil Kachalin Soviet Union 1955-1958 34 22 6 6 88 35 64.71 1956(o), 1958, 1960 1956(o), 1958
Georgiy Glazkov Soviet Union 1959 1 1 0 0 3 1 100
Mikhail Yakushin Soviet Union 1959 2 2 0 0 2 0 100 1960
Gavriil Kachalin Soviet Union 1960-1962 22 16 2 4 49 20 72.73 1962 1960, 1962
Nikita Simonyan Soviet Union 1963 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Konstantin Beskov Soviet Union 1963-1964 9 4 4 1 14 7 44.44 1964 1964
Nikita Simonyan Soviet Union 1964 1 0 1 0 2 2 0
Nikolai Morozov Soviet Union 1964-1966 31 15 9 7 51 33 48.39 1966 1966
Mikhail Yakushin Soviet Union 1967-1968 28 16 7 5 51 31 57.14 1968, 1968(o) 1968
Gavriil Kachalin Soviet Union 1969-1970 18 9 7 2 29 11 50 1970 1970
Valentin Nikolayev Soviet Union 1970-1971 13 8 5 0 24 5 61.54 1972
Nikolay Gulyayev Soviet Union 1972 4 2 1 1 6 4 50 1972
Aleksandr Ponomarev Soviet Union 1972 15 8 4 3 27 17 53.33 1972(o), 1972
German Zonin Soviet Union 1972 3 1 0 2 1 2 33.33
Yevgeny Goryansky Soviet Union 1973 10 3 2 5 6 6 30 1974*
Konstantin Beskov Soviet Union 1974 3 1 0 2 1 4 33.33 1976
Valeriy Lobanovsky Soviet Union 1975-1976 19 11 4 4 33 18 57.89 1976 1976(o)
Valentin Nikolayev Soviet Union 1976 2 0 1 1 0 2 0
Nikita Simonyan Soviet Union 1977-1979 27 18 4 5 60 22 66.67 1978, 1980
Konstantin Beskov Soviet Union 1979-1982 28 17 8 3 54 19 60.71 1980, 1982 1982
Oleg Bazilevich Soviet Union 1979 1 1 0 0 3 1 100
Valeriy Lobanovsky Soviet Union 1982-1983 10 6 3 1 18 6 60 1984
Eduard Malofeyev Soviet Union 1984-1986 25 14 3 8 37 23 56 1986
Valeriy Lobanovsky Soviet Union 1986-1987 17 9 6 2 31 11 52.94 1988 1986
Nikita Simonyan Soviet Union 1988 1 1 0 0 4 0 100
Morozov and Mosyagin Soviet Union 1988 4 1 2 1 5 5 25
1st Coaching Staff Soviet Union 1988-1990 31 16 6 9 42 29 51.61 1990 1988, 1990
2nd Coaching Staff Soviet Union 1990-1992 28 12 11 5 39 24 42.86 1992 1992


  • The game that took place on November 21, 1973 between the national team of Chile and missing side did not go on record of Yevgeny Goryansky.
  • The 1980 USSR Olympic roster (coach - Beskov) was identical with the senior team that competed in qualification tournaments in 1979-1981.
  • In 1985-1989 the national team competed in the annual Nehru Cup (India).
  • The 1st coaching staff consisted of Valeriy Lobanovsky (leading), Yuri Morozov and Sergei Mosyagin.
  • The 2nd coaching staff consisted of Anatoly Byshovets (leading), Vladimir Salkov and Gadzhi Gadzhiyev.

Home venues record

Since Soviet's first fixture (16 November 1924 vs. Turkey) they have played their home games at various stadiums.

Venue City Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA Points per game
Central Lenin Stadium Moscow 1956-1992 78 50 18 10 151 50 2.15
Central Stadium Kiev 1969-1990 12 10 1 1 27 6 2.58
Lenin Dynamo Stadium Tbilisi 1967-1987 10 6 1 3 19 9 1.9
Dynamo Stadium Moscow 1954-1971 9 7 2 0 41 8 2.56
Lokomotiv Stadium Simferopol 1979-1989 4 4 0 0 11 1 3
Kirov Stadium Leningrad 1967-1984 3 3 0 0 8 1 3
Hrazdan Stadium Yerevan 1978 2 2 0 0 12 2 3
Central Lokomotiv Stadium Moscow 1979-1988 2 2 0 0 5 1 3
Central Stadium Volgograd 1977 1 1 0 0 4 1 3
Vorovsky Stadium Moscow 1924 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
Black Sea Shipping Stadium Odessa 1974 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Totals 1924-1992 123 86 22 15 281 80 2.28
Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.


  • Although never used by either the Soviet Union national football team nor Soviet Union Olympic football team, Dynama Stadium in Minsk was designated as the official stadium for the 1980 Summer Olympics.

See also


External links

  • RSSSF archive of results 1923-1991/92
  • RSSSF archive of most capped players and highest goalscorers
  • Football in Soviet Union
  • Russia Team Profile including old Soviet Union World Cup qualifications
  • Russia (Soviet Union) National Football Team
  • Team history
  • Media Biblioteca of USSR National Football Team
  • Media Biblioteca of USSR National Football Team in VK
Preceded by
Inaugural champions
European champions
1960 (first title)
Succeeded by
1964 Spain

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