National Team Information
- Artem Dzyuba, Aleksandr Kerzhakov – 30 goals (tie)
- Vladimir Beschastnykh – 26 goals
- Roman Pavlyuchenko – 21 goals
- Valeri Karpin, Andrey Arshavin – 17 goals (tie)
Russia National Football Team History
Before the founding of modern Russia, Russian players played on the Russian Empire, Soviet Union and CIS national teams at various points. The Russian Empire national team existed from 1910 to 1914 and they only took part in one major tournament. In the 1912 Olympics, they lost both of their matches. In the consolation bracket, they lost 16-0 to Germany. It remains the biggest defeat any Russian national team has suffered to date.
After the 1917 October Revolution, the Soviet Union played their first match in 1922. They defeated Finland 4-1 but didn’t participate in their first major tournament since 1952. The Soviet squad defeated Bulgaria 2-1 in the preliminary round which set up a fixture vs. Yugoslavia. The two Communist countries played to a 5-5 draw, as the Soviet Union came back from 5-1 down. However, the Soviet Union lost the reverse fixture 3-1 and were knocked out of the tournament.
Their first World Cup appearance was in 1958 and they reached the quarterfinals stage after knocking England out of a playoff. Two years later, the greatest achievement in Soviet soccer history occurred. The Soviet Union won the first ever European Championship by defeating Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
The Soviet Union reached the European Championship final again four years later but lost 2-1 to Spain. In the 1966 World Cup they achieved their best ever result. Goalkeeper Lev Yashin was in excellent form as the Soviet Union finished in fourth place in the tournament. Bizarrely, the Soviet Union got eliminated from the 1968 Euro on a coin toss after a 0-0 draw with Italy in the semifinal. Italy went on to win the tournament.
The 1970 World Cup was the last one the Soviet Union made the quarterfinal in. They fell to Uruguay in extra time. In 1972, the Soviet Union lost in the final of the Euro for a second time as Gerd Muller scored twice in a 3-0 West Germany win. Struggles characterized the rest of the 1970s as they failed to make another major tournament.
In the late 80s, though, the team underwent a revival and made the round of 16 at the 1986 World Cup. The Soviet Union also were runners up in the European Championship for a third time in 1988. They lost 2-0 in the final to a Netherlands side that they defeated in the group stage. The last tournament the Soviet Union qualified for was the 1992 Euro.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, though, the newly independent Soviet republics competed as the “Commonwealth of Independent States”. In their only tournament as the CIS, they drew with Germany and the Netherlands but lost to Scotland. The loss meant group stage elimination.
The Russian federation played their first international match in August 1992 and won 2-0 vs. Mexico. Russia were eliminated in the group stage in their first World Cup as an independent nation. However, that didn’t stop Oleg Salenko from winning a share of the Golden Boot. Salenko set a World Cup record with five goals in a 6-1 win vs. Cameroon. He also scored from the penalty spot in the 3-1 loss to Sweden.
In Russia’s first Euro appearance, they failed to win a match and went out after the group stage. The Sbornaya also failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000. Under Oleg Romantsev, Russia managed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup but failed to advance out of the group stage, inciting riots in Moscow.
Russia’s best performance as an independent nation at the Euros was in 2008. Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin led Russia to the semifinal where they fell to Spain for a second time in the tournament. In four World Cup appearances, Russia have only managed to make the knockout stage once. In 2018, as hosts, they stunningly knocked out Spain in penalties in the round of 16 before falling to Croatia in penalties in the quarterfinal.
Due to the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, UEFA and FIFA decided to unilaterally ban all Russian clubs and national teams from their competitions until further notice. That meant Russia were disqualified from their World Cup playoff vs. Poland. Russia also will not be taking part in Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Russia Soccer Leagues & Clubs:
The top flight Russian soccer league is called the Russian Premier League. A total of 16 clubs compete in the league and play 30 games each. The league takes a three-month Winter break from mid-December to mid-March in a season that runs from July to June. The bottom two teams are automatically relegated. Meanwhile, the 13th and 14th place teams contest relegation playoffs vs. teams from the second-tier.
The Russian First League is another option for Russia soccer betting. It’s the second level on the Russian soccer pyramid. There are 18 clubs in the Russian First League. The league follows a double round-robin format and the top two teams earn automatic promotion to the Russian Premier League. The third and fourth place teams compete in the Russian Premier League relegation playoffs for a chance to earn promotion.
Rissia Cups & Tournaments
The annual Russian cup features around 100 Russian soccer teams. All clubs from the Russian Premier League, Russian First Division and Second Division can participate, along with some amateur teams. The competition follows a single elimination format and the final is typically held in Moscow.
Russia Soccer Betting Information
Russia soccer betting will be confined to domestic leagues for the foreseeable future. No Russian clubs will be participating in UEFA competitions until further notice. Usually, CSKA Moscow, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Spartak Moscow are all regulars in UEFA competitions. The Russian Premier League itself is a top 10 European league. The standard of play is quite high and along with the three aforementioned clubs, Krasnodar and Lokomotiv Moscow are top 100 clubs in the UEFA coefficient rankings.
As of the beginning of the 2022-23 season, Zenit Saint Petersburg have won four consecutive league titles. Betting on their outright odds is quite popular. Home teams typically have an advantage in the Russian Premier League. Through the first 17 matchweeks of the 2022-23 season, home teams won 46 percent of the time and away teams won 30 percent of the time. That means 24 percent of matches finished in a draw up until that point.
In the 2021-22 season, 2.66 goals were scored per game. Compare that to 3.14 goals per game in the first 17 matchdays in 2022-23. The league becoming more attacking is a recent development. In the mid 2010s, the Russian Premier League was consistently one of the lowest scoring leagues in Europe. One thing that has held constant is that the majority of goals are scored in the second half of matches. In the last 10 years, only Zenit and three Moscow clubs, CSKA, Spartak and Lokomotiv, have won the title.
It’s hard to dole out betting tips for the Russian national team at this point. Only friendlies will be on their calendar in the near future. A lack of competitive matches could certainly hurt their cohesion. Also, Russia’s joint-all time leading scorer Artem Dzyuba is 34 now and hasn’t been called up for over a year.
The generation of players that made the quarterfinals at the 2018 World Cup is mostly gone. Current standout players include midfielders Aleksandr Golovin and Aleksei Miranchuk, though. It remains to be seen when Russia will be admitted into UEFA competitions again. Presumably, the next tournament they’ll be eligible for is the World Cup in 2026.
So, a lot can change before they start their campaign, if they’re even permitted to go through with it. Expect young players to receive an opportunity in the coming years as Russia rebuilds the national team. The current manager of Russia, Valeri Karpin, concurrently coaches at FC Rostov. He’ll have to discontinue coaching at Rostov when the UEFA ban on Russia lifts but don’t be surprised if he selects a handful of Rostov players for the team afterward.
It’s a strange time for Russian soccer betting. There are virtually no opportunities to bet on the national team currently and it could stay that way for a while. Bettors interested in Russian soccer betting should monitor the situation in Ukraine and wait for UEFA updates. In the meantime, betting on the Russian Premier League and Russian Cup could be popular options.