Russia Profile

Major Honours 1960 European Championships
Year Founded 1912

Russia’s national team have regularly appeared at FIFA World Cup and European Championships, winning the latter in 1960. However, their appearance at Euro 2020 ended in a group-stage exit.

Initially playing as the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, it was while they were the Soviet Union that they enjoyed the most success, notably winning the 1960 European Championship and finishing in fourth place at the 1966 World Cup.

However, they had some success playing as the Russian Federation after a brief period playing as the Commonwealth of Independent States following the fall of the Soviet Union. Most notably, they made the semi-finals of Euro 2008 and the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup on home soil.

Russian Empire and Soviet Union era

Russia played their first match in 1912, the year they became a member of FIFA, and lost 2-1 to Finland while playing as the Russian Empire. They did not enter the World Cup until 1958, initially playing as the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union made the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Two years later, they won the first edition of the European Championship, held in France. They beat Czechoslovakia 3-0 in the semi-finals and Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final. Valentin Ivanov and Viktor Ponedelnik were among five players who finished in a tie for top scorer.

In 1962, at the World Cup in Chile, they reached the quarter-finals once again. Then, at the 1964 European Championship, they finished as runners-up, losing 2-1 to Spain in the final.

Chile's Eladio Rojas (out of pic) scores the winning goal past USSR goalkeeper Lev Yashin (r), watched by teammate Jaime Ramirez (7) and USSR's Leonid Ostrovski (6)

At the 1966 World Cup in England, the Soviet Union produced their best-ever performance in the tournament, finishing in fourth place. They were beaten by West Germany in the semi-finals and a Eusebio-inspired Portugal in the third-place play-off.

After being eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup, the Soviet Union once again finished as runners-up at Euro 1972, losing 3-0 to West Germany in the final.

After the 1973 Chilean coup d'etat, the Soviet Union refused to play in Chile and were subsequently disqualified from the 1974 World Cup in West Germany as a result. They failed to qualify for the European Championships of 1976 and 1980, as well as the 1980 World Cup.

Despite a barren period during the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet Union did manage one last hurrah as they reached the final of Euro 1988.

Oleh Protasov and Hennadiy Lytovchenko scored in a 2-0 semi-final win over Italy, but in the final at the Olympiastadion in Munich, the Soviets were outclassed by an inspired Dutch outfit. Netherlands won the match 2-0 courtesy of goals from Ruud Gullit and tournament top scorer Marco van Basten.

Fall of the Soviet Union and Russian Federation era

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia played their first international fixture in their current form on August 16, 1992, winning 2-0 with a team made up of former Soviet Union players, including some born in other former Soviet republics.

Pavel Sadyrin led Russia into their qualification campaign for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States and they ultimately qualified for the tournament alongside Greece.

Russia were drawn into a group with Cameroon, Sweden and Brazil. In Detroit, they lost 2-0 to Brazil and 3-1 to Sweden. Five goals from Oleg Salenko saw them to a 6-1 thrashing of Cameroon, but Russia were eliminated from the group stage and Sadyrin was subsequently sacked and replaced by Oleg Romantsev.

At Euro 1996, Russia fared no better than at the World Cup two years prior, losing 2-1 to Italy and 3-0 to Germany. They were eliminated from the tournament despite a 3-3 draw with the Czech Republic.

Boris Ignatyev was placed in charge of the team and handed the responsibility of qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France, but Russia failed to do so and he was replaced by Anatoliy Byshovets. After poor results, Byshovets was promptly replaced by Romantsev, who was unable to guide Russia to Euro 2000 upon his return.

World Cup 2002 Qualifier - Group One - Luxembourg v Russia

Romantsev did, however, manage to lead Russia to direct qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

They were drawn into Group H with Belgium, Tunisia, and Japan. They beat Tunisia 2-0 in their opening fixture, but lost 1-0 to Japan in the next. Two lives were reportedly lost in riots in Moscow after the match.

Russia could still have qualified for the next round with a draw against Belgium, but lost their last match 3-2, leading to Romantsev's sacking.

Valery Gazzaev was appointed manager of the national team, but he too struggled to earn positive results and was replaced by Georgi Yartsev. Under Yartsev's guidance, Russia qualified for Euro 2004 via a play-off against Wales, which was overshadowed by a positive doping test for Yegor Titov. The midfielder was subsequently banned for a year.

Russia were eliminated from Euro 2004 in the group stage, although they did manage to beat eventual champions Greece 2-1 to salvage some pride.

Yartsev's reign was ended by poor results in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. He was replaced by Yuri Semin, who fared no better and stepped down after Russia missed out on the tournament.

The experienced Guus Hiddink took charge of the team and Russia qualified for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland along with Croatia and at the expense of England. Hiddink's charges, galvanised by impressive performances upfront from Roman Pavlyuchenko, made it past the group stage and then stunned Netherlands 3-1. Eventually, they were beaten 3-0 in the semi-finals by eventual champions Spain.

Russia head coach Guus Hiddink (c) reacts after a referee decision

Hiddink's Russia reign came to an end after he failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The team was beaten by Slovenia in a play-off.

Under Dick Advocaat, Russia were eliminated from the group stage of Euro 2012 despite impressive form in the build-up to the tournament.

Fabio Capello led Russia into the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but they suffered a group stage exit in Brazil. The team fared no better at Euro 2016, once again falling short of reaching the knockout stages.

Under Stanislav Cherchesov, Russia did not get off to a positive start, exiting the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017 at the group stage, but at the FIFA World Cup the following year on home soil, they impressed, making it to the quarter-finals with a shock round-of-16 win over Spain before being eliminated by Croatia on penalties.

Euro 2020

Russia qualified for Euro 2020 after finishing second behind Belgium in Group I.

They were again pitted against Belgium in their group for the finals and despite losing 3-0 to Roberto Martinez's side, looked well placed to qualify when they beat Finland 1-0.

However, they capitulated 4-1 to Denmark in their final group game to sink to the bottom of the group and exit the competition.

Aleksandr Golovin shows his disappointment as Russia exit Euro 2020

National team legends

Oleg Blokhin picked up the most caps (112) and the most goals (42) for the old Soviet Union. Although Sergei Ignashevich has picked up 127 caps for Russia, more than Blokhin managed for the Soviet Union, nobody has scored more goals for Russia than Blokhin's 42 for the Soviets. Aleksandr Kerzhakov is the Russian Federation's goal record holder with 30.

Rivalries

Russia have a rivalry with Finland, as well as with UkraineTurkey and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The team also has a strong rivalry with Poland which reached a boiling point at Euro 2012 when both sets of supporters clased during the tournament.

Fanbase

Russia's fans have been the subject of negative media coverage for racist and xenophobic tendencies, but there is some activism against this within Russia. In 2018, activist group Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for a pitch invasion at the World Cup final between France and Croatia.

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