Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Soviet Union Greatest All-Time Team

The Soviet Union had the best record in European Championships until the emerge of West Germany in the 1970's. They reached at least the semifinal of tournament 5 times out of a possible(only 7 tournaments were held before the collapse of the Soviet Union), 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.  For the World Cup finals, 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 national team also participated in number of Olympic tournaments earning the gold medal in the 1956 and 1988.

This is my all-time team for the former Soviet Union. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  All players played for the Soviet Union. I have create other blogs for individual republics that included players who played after the collapse of the USSR.
European Championship 1988
GK: Lev Yashin 
Lev Yashin 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 held in France. He also played in three World Cup Finals, in 1958, 1962 and 1966. He took the USSR to 4th place in 1966.  He spent his entire career with Dynamo Moscow between 1950 and 1970.
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.

RB: Vladimir Bessonov 
Bezsonov's career began in 1976 with Dynamo Kyiv. Here he spent most of his career, except for a short one-season stint in Israeli club Maccabi Haifa F.C.  He won 79 caps and scored 4 goals for the Soviet Union from 1977 to 1990.  He went to the WC Finals in 1982, 1986 and 1990. He was one of the best fullbacks in Soviet football history.

RB: Revaz Dzodzuashvili 
Revaz Dzodzuashvili  earned 49 caps for the USSR, and participated in the 1970 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 1972. He was named in the team of the tournament in Euro 1972, where the Soviets finished second. He also earned a bronze medal in football at the 1972 Summer Olympics. For his club career, he played mainly for Torpedo Kutaisi and Dinamo Tbilisi.

CB: Aleksandre Chivadze 
Aleksandre Chivadze is from Soviet Georgia.  He spent his entire club career at FC Dinamo Tbilisi, playing from 1974 to 1987. He was a part of the great Dinamo Tbilisi side that won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1981 which put Georgia's football on the map.  At the international level.  He earned 46 caps for the USSR  and was included in the squads of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.  He was the captain of the 1982 World Cup team.  He was Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1980.
Aleksandre Chivadze 
CB: Murtaz Khurtsilava 
Murtaz Khurtsilava was part of the USSR  that finished second in the 1972 UEFA European Championship, third at the 1972 Summer Olympics and fourth at the 1966 FIFA World Cup. He was also one of only two Georgians, alongside Alexandre Chivadze, to have captained the Soviet team. At the club level he played for FC Dynamo Tbilisi.

CB: Vagiz Khidiyatullin 
Vagiz Khidiyatullin 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.

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. After leading CSKA to their first national title in 19 years he chose to retire from football on a high at only 30. He was the Soviet Player of the Year in 1970.
Albert Shesternyov
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.

LB: Anatoliy Demyanenko
Anatoliy Demyanenko was a longtime Dynamo Kyiv captain and a prolific left wingback for the Soviet Union.  At the international level, he played in three World Cup Finals(1982, 1986 and 1990) and reached the Final of Euro 1988. In 2000,  he was voted the 3rd best player in the Ukrainian 'Team of the Century" behind Andrei Shevchenko and Oleg Blokhin.  After the collapse of the USSR, he played briefly in Germany for an East German club and then, in Poland.
Anatoliy Demyanenko

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 
Igor Netto 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 World Cup, and also played all four matches in the 1962 World Cup when the USSR reached the quarterfinals. In total he collected 54  caps. 
Igor Netto

CM:  Volodymyr Muntyan 
Volodymyr Muntyan was born in Ukraine of Romanian ethnicity. He played his entire career with Dynamo Kyiv.  He won the 1975 Cup Winners' Cup with Dynamo Kyiv.  He played 49 times for the Soviet Union. He played 49 times for the Soviet Union. He was a part of the USSR team at the World Cup Finals in 1970.  He also went to Euro 1968 and 1972.

AM/CM: Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko
Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko was capped 36 for the USSR and 5 times for CIS. He was a part of the Soviet squad that finished second at Euro 88.  He became the Soviet Player of the Year in 1988 after the tournament.  He was also capped twice by Ukraine.  He became one of the first Soviet player to play successfully aboard when he joined Sampdoria and then, Rangers in the 1990's.

AM: David Kipiani 
David Kipiani was named Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1977. He was a part of the great Dinamo Tobilisi side that won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1981 that put Georgian football on the football map.  However, injuries kept him from playing more for the Soviet Union.  He also played for Locomotive Tbilisi, where he started his career in 1968. He played for Dinamo Tobilisi from 1971 to 1982. At the international level, he was only capped 19 times between 1974 and 1981.
David Kipiani
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.

LW: Sergey Ilyin
Sergey Ilyin 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.

FW: Valentin Ivanov
Valentin Ivanov 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.

SS: Igor Belanov 
Igor Belanov made a name for himself at Dynamo Kyiv, winning five major titles and being named European Footballer of the Year in 1986.  He played for the Soviet Union at the World Cup Finals in 1986, where he was one of the star players of the tournament.  He also went to Euro 1988, where the Soviets reached the Finals against Holland.  He is considered one of the greatest Ukrainian and the Soviet player in history.
Igor Belanov
SS: Oleg Blokhin
Oleg Blokhin was probably the greatest outfielder in Soviet history. He was the European Player of the Year in 1975.  He holds the all-time top goalscorer record for both Dynamo Kyiv (266 goals) and the Soviet Union national team (42 goals), as well as being the overall top goalscorer in the history of the Soviet Top League (211 goals). He is also the only player to have been capped over 100 times for the Soviet Union and holds Dynamo's appearance record with 582 appearances during his 18 year spell at the club.\
Oleg Blokhin
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.

ST:  Eduard Streltsov 
Eduard Streltsov 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. 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. At the club level, he was a one club player for Torpedo Moscow. In 1996, Torpedo renamed their home ground "Eduard Streltsov Stadium" in his honour.  
Eduard Streltsov 

Honorable Mention
Mikheil Meskh, Oleh Protasov, Oleksandr Zavarov, Hennadiy Lytovchenko, Oleg Kuznetsov, Yuriy Voynov, Anatoli Bashashkin, Sergei Aleinikov, Nikita Simonyan, Yuriy Istomin.

Squad Explanation
-- The Soviet Union was the most successful team in the European Championship before the emerge of West Germany in 1972.  The reached at least the semifinal of the first four editions of the tournament(1960, 1962, 1968, 1972).  They won the cup in 1960 and finished second twice.  In 1968, they did not reach the Final because they lost a coin toss to the host Italy.
-- Rinat Dasaev, Lev Yashin, Igor Netto, Eduard Streltsov, Igor Belanov, Oleg Blokhin and Albert Shesternyov are automatic selections.
-- The Golden age of Soviet football was probably between 1960 and 1972.  The team still consisted many footballers not from that generation.   I have 8 players from the eras after 1972.  They are Vladimir Bessonov, David Kipiani, Vagiz Khidiyatullin, Aleksandre Chivadze, Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko, Rinat Dasaev, Igor Belanov and Oleg Blokhin.  Sergey Ilyin played in the 1920's and 1930's.
-- The Soviet team at Euro 1988 was also very good.  They beat Netherlands in the group stage, but lost the rematch against them in the Final.  As you might know, the Netherlands of 1988 was considered one of the greatest sides in history.  Many players became legends of the game.  For the Soviet Union, Dasaev and Belanov were the two players unforgotten by history. Belanov's legendary status, however, was more at the World Cup Finals in 1986.
-- Only players from the Soviet Union's era were considered. The blog is unlikely to be updated.
-- Three Soviet players won the European Player of the Year award:  Lev Yashin, Igor Belanov and Oleg Blokhin.  Their winning selection was considered controversial.  Nevertheless, they were very top European players of their time. Lev Yashin is widely to be considered the greatest ever goalkeeper and the only goalkeeper o have won the award.
-- Oleg Blokhin is both the all-time leading scorer and all-time cap record holder.  Oleh Protasov is the second all-time leading scorer, but he only made honorable mention.
-- If I took players played after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Andriy Shevchenko would be the only player who could make the team.  I would drop Viktor Ponedelnik for him. Andrey Arshavin and Kakha Kaladze have decent chance as well, but I needed to rethink it over.
-- 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.
-- Most of the players on this all-time team came from Russia and Ukraine.  Georgia is the third largest group.  The three republics also produced the most national team players.
-- The 11 Russian players on this team included LevYashin, Rinat Dasaev, Yevhen Rudakov, Albert Shesternyov, Evgeny Lovchev,  Evgeny Lovchev, Ignor Netto, Viktor Ponedelnik,  Igor Chislenko, Valentin Ivanov and  Eduard Streltsov. Yevhen Rudakov played for Dynamo Kyiv, but he was an ethnic Russian.  All of them played before the 1970's.
-- The Ukrainians included Igor Belanov, Oleg Blokhin, Vladimir Bessonov, Anatoliy Demyanenko and Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko.  Volodymyr Muntyan was born in Ukraine of Romanian ethnicity.   All of them played in the 1980's, exceopt Muntyan.
-- David Kipiani and Aleksandre Chivadze came from Georgia.  They played for the great Dinamo Tobilisi side that won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1981.  Revaz Dzodzuashvili and Murtaz Khurtsilava who are also Georgian, but did not play for that team.
-- In 1958, 82% of the World Cup team came from Russia.  The Ukrainians were the largest ethnic group of the last three Soviet World Cup teams(1982, 1986 and 1990).
-- David Kipiani was left of the 1982 World Cup team, which was considered to be his peak.


Valeriy Lobanovskyi was one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game.  He normally played a 4-4-2 formation. I do not know the type of players I chose fit his system. Lobanovskyi was known for his usage of space and quick counter attacks.  I started a wide player Chislenko on the right.

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