Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Russia Greatest All-Time team

Russia 2008
Please also see my All-Time Team Index.

Soviet UnionRussiaUkraine,
The former Soviet Union without (Ukraine and Russia).

Although Ukraine dominated the football in the USSR during the 1980's, Russia is main force behind some of the Soviet Union's most successful period.  The Soviets were the most successful country at the European Championship before 1972 when West Germany won their first trophy.  In the first four tournaments, they reached the Final three times, winning it in 1970.  In 1968, they failed to reach the Final only because of losing a coin toss.  They did not do as well in the World Cup, but they reached the semifinal in 1966.   Ethnic Russians such as Lev Yashin, Albert Shesternyov, Eduard Streltsov and Igor Netto were the major stars on those teams.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia's best performance was at Euro 2008.  The reached the semifinal after beating Holland 3-1 in the quarterfinal. 

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. The team consisted of Russian players from both the Soviet Union and Russia.

Team
GK: Lev Yashin 
He is considered the greatest keeper in the history of the game.  He dressed head to toe in black, thus earning his nickname the 'Black Spider', which enhanced his popularity. With the national team, he won the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 1960 European Championship. He also played in three World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1966. He took the USSR to 4th place in 1966.  He spent his entire career with Dynamo Moscow.
Lev Yashin
GK: Rinat Dasaev 
Rinat Dasaev  was considered one of the best keepers in the world during the 1980's.  He was capped 91 times from 1979 to 1990, being the second-most capped player ever for the Soviet Union. He appeared in the 1982, 1986 and 1990 FIFA World Cups, as well as the Euro 1988, where the Soviets finished second. He spent most of his career with Spartak Moscow.  In the West, he played for Seville in Spain between 1988 and 1990.

GK: Yevhen Rudakov
Yevhen Rudakov was an ethnic Russian born in Moscow.  His career was associated with Dynamo Kyiv where he is regarded as their greatest keeper.  He became the first foreigner to win Ukraine's Player of the Year in 1971. He was also the Soviet player of the year the same year. He also represented the USSR  42 times and helped them reach the Euro 1972 finals.

LB/RB: Mikhail Ogonkov 
Mikhail Ogonkov was a member of the USSR team that won the 1956 Olympic gold medal.  He spent his entire career with Spartak Moscow.  He career was cut short in 1958 when he was arrested over an alleged rape and he was suspended for three years. After his return, he was forced to retire after a serious injury.

He earned 58 caps and scored 6 goals for the USSR , and played for them in the 1980 Summer Olympics, 1988 UEFA European Championship and the 1990 FIFA World Cup. He was also on the squad of the 1982 World Cup team.  His career was spent with Spartak Moscow and CSKA Moscow.  He played from 1988 to 1990 for Toulouse FC in France.
Vagiz Khidiyatullin 

CB Anatoli Bashashkin 
He was captain of the Soviet Union at the 1952 Olympics, but following their politically embarrassing defeat to Yugoslavia he was stripped of the captaincy.  He played CDSK Moscow that won four domestic titles in the 1940s and earlier 1950s (1947, 1948, 1950, 1951), but following the 1952 Olympics the team was disbanded by Joseph Stalin.  He also played for Spartak Moscow.


CB: Anatoli Maslyonkin
Anatoli Maslyonkin earned 33 caps for the USSR national football team, and participated in two World Cups, as well as the first ever European Nations' Cup in 1960, where the Soviets were champions. He also won a goal medal in Football at the 1956 Summer Olympics.  Most of his career was with Spartak Moscow, where he played from 1953 to 1963.

CB: Albert Shesternyov 
Albert Shesternyov was the most famous defender from the former Soviet Union. Nicknamed "Ivan the Terrible", he was the captain of the great Soviet team of the 1960s. He earned 90 caps an appearance record only broken subsequently by Oleg Blokhin and Rinat Dasaev in the late 1980s.  He played for CSKA Moscow for his entire career between 1959 and 1972.
Albert Shesternyov 
CB: Viktor Onopko
Viktor Onopko was an Ukrainian, but chose to play for Russia after the collapse of the USSR.  He picked up 4 caps for CIS and 109 caps for Russia. He played in the 1994 and 2002 World Cups, as well as Euro 96.  He played for Shakhtar Donetsk, Spartak Moscow, Real Oviedo, Rayo Vallecano, Alania Vladikavkaz and FC Saturn.

Evgeny Lovchev  was the Soviet player of the Year in 1972. He played 52 times for the USSR national team.  He was one of the best fullback of his time.  In 1970, he became the first player to be booked on a World Cup Finals match, in the opening game of the tournament against Mexico.  He played mainly for Spartak Moscow.
Evgeny Lovchev

LB: Yuri Zhirkov
Yuri Zhirkov played over 50 times for Russia.  He was named in the UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament after helping the team to the semi-finals. It was Russia's best result since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  He earned a big move to Chelsea in 2009, but he moved to  FC Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011 and then, Dynamo Moscow in 2013.  He also played for CSKA Moscow.  

DM: Valery Voronin
Valery Voronin was Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1964 and 1965. Between 1960 and 1968, Voronin earned 63 caps and scored 5 goals for the USSR, and represented the country in the 1962 and 1966 World Cups.  He was a key player during the peak of Soviet football. During his club career he played for FC Torpedo Moscow, winning the championship twice.

CM: Igor Netto 
He was regarded among the best midfielders in Soviet history.  He played most of his career for Spartak Moscow.  He was the captain of the USSR from 1954 to 1963. He led the country to the gold medal in the 1956 Summer Olympics, and victory at the first ever European Championship in 1960. He missed all but one match in the 1958 FIFA World Cup due to injury, and also played all four matches in the 1962 FIFA World Cup when the Soviet Union reached the quarterfinals. In total he collected 54 international caps and four goals. 
Igor Netto

LW: Sergey Ilyin
He was probably the best left winger in Soviet football history. He was best known for his stint with Dinamo Moscow, where he was the captain from 1935 to 1941.  In 1927, he already selected to play for the Russian Republic(under USSR), where they were the top team in the USSR.  In 1930, he played for the USSR against Turkey and Turkey was one of the few national teams that played against the CCCP.

AM: Yuriy Voynov
He earned 23 caps for the USSR , and represented the country in the 1958 FIFA World Cup and the 1960 European Nations' Cup, where the USSR were crowned the first ever European champions.  He was selected to the 1958 FIFA World Cup team of the tournament. In 1956 Voinov played couple of games for the Ukraine at the Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR.

He played 494 matches for Spartak Moscow between 1977 and 1993, more than any other player in the club's history. He played on the Soviet national team, scoring 12 goals in 32 appearances. He was the Soviet Player of the Year in 1983 and 1989.  Later, he played for Red Stars Football Club in France during the 1990-1991 season.

AM/RW: Valeri Karpin
He scored Russia's first goal after the breakup of the Soviet Union, in a 2–0 win against Mexico on 17 August 1992. Karpin played for Russia at the 1994 World Cup, Euro 96, and the 2002 World Cup. At club level, Karpin has played for Fakel Voronezh, Spartak Moscow, Real Sociedad, Valencia CF, and Celta Vigo. He retired at the end of the 2004–05 season with Real Sociedad.

RW: Igor Chislenko 
Igor Chislenko was a legendary winger for Dinamo Moscow and one of the best winger in his time.  He also played for the USSR national football team, appearing 54 times for the Soviet Union and scored 21 goals. He played in the 1962 and 1966 World Cup, was a runner up in Euro 1964 and was one of the stars of the 1966 World Cup. He also appeared in 1964 and 1968 European Championship.

RW: Andrey Kanchelskis 
Andrey Kanchelskis  was one of the first players after the collapse of the USSR that succeeded in the West. He is remembered for his spells with English clubs Manchester United and Everton, and in Scotland with Rangers. Despite being an ethnic Lithuanian born in Ukraine, he chose to play for Russia.  He was also capped by USSR and CIS. 
Andrey Kanchelskis 

AM/LW: Andrei Arshavin
Arshavin began his career at Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2000. He won numerous trophies with the club until his departure in 2009: the Russian Premier League, Russian Premier League Cup, Russian Super Cup, UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. During his time with Zenit, Arshavin was named Russian Footballer of the Year.  He then went on to star at the Euro 2008 where Russia reached the semi-final. He moved to Arsenal in 2009.
Andrei Arshavin
FW: Valentin Ivanov
He appeared 59 times for the Soviet Union, scoring 26 goals.  He is the Soviet national football team's third-highest goalscorer of all time, behind only Oleg Blokhin and Oleg Protasov. He is the co-leading scorer at the 1962 World Cup Finals and the 1960 European Nations' Cup top scorer, helping the Soviets to win the latter tournament.  He spent his entire career with Torpedo Moscow. 

FW: Viktor Ponedelnik
Ponedelnik first started playing for a local team, Rostselmash, in 1956. In 1958 he switched to SKA Rostov-on-Don and was invited to join the Soviet national team. In the 1960 European Championship, the only major Championship ever won by the Soviet Union, Ponedelnik headed home the winning goal in extra time in the final game against Yugoslavia.

FW:  Eduard Streltsov 
He was one of the greatest strikers in Soviet history.  He first won an Olympic Gold medal in 1956. He was the Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1967 and 1968.  In 1996, Torpedo renamed their home ground "Eduard Streltsov Stadium" in his honour.  He was part of the squad that won the gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and came seventh in the 1957 Ballon d'Or. 
Streltsov, Yashin and Netto
Honorable Mention
Grigory Fedotov, Vsevolod Bobrov, Igor Akinfeev.

Squad Explanation
-- The majority of the squad are players from the old Soviet Union.  All of the old Soviet players are ethnic Russian.  The post-Soviet Union players were based on the national team they chose to play for.  
-- Viktor Onopko was an Ukrainian, but he opted to play for Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  He was ineligible to represent Ukraine in football. I selected him becacause he held the record for most international appearances for the Russian national team.  
-- Andrei Arshavin probably is the best Russian player since the collapse of the USSR.  He is also the most successful Russian from both eras playing in Western Europe.  The same applied to Andrey Kanchelskis who made a name in the West.  Valeri Karpin belonged to this list as well.
--  Igor Akinfeev is seriously considered for this team, but it is hard to break into this team. Yashin and Dasaev firmly established themselves on the team.
-- The Soviet Union was very strong in the 1960's and 1980's with Eduard Streltsov and Lev Yashin, but the Soviet team from the 1980's consisted mainly of Ukrainian players.  

Starting lineup





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