Monday, December 6, 2010
Russian soccer: better than us, but not by much
For my last blog entry (sob) and in honor of Russian being chosen for the 2018 World Cup, I thought it would be fun to explore the history of the Russian national soccer team. Since they are hosting the tournament they automatically qualify to play. They hold the ninth spot in the FIFA rankings, beating out England, Portugal, Ukraine, and the United States. The team played their first international game in 1912 where they lost to Finland 2-0 and a devastating loss to the Germans, 16-0 (no doubt forshadowing the bloodshed to come). After the rise of Communism, Russia continued to play soccer even erecting pitches in Red Square for May Day. The Soviet Union joined FIFA (the world organization for soccer) in 1946. During the Soviet era the team consistantly made the quarter finals and regular appearences in European championships. Thier greatest triumph came in 1972 when they made it to the finals, but lost to East Germany 2-0 (those damn Germans!). After the breakdown of the Soviet Union Russia entered on its own. They were good, but they suffered a humilitating defeat in 2002 against Japan.
Today Russia remains a powerful force in European soccer. They are currently first in their division in qualifying for the 2012 European Cup. Their best offensive threats are Alexander Kerzhakov and Pavel Pogrebniak. Overall, Russia has a very good team, and they should be worth watching when 2018 rolls around.