The golden ages of the Soviet national team

Think of the Russian national team and you’re unlikely to think of anything particularly positive. One brief flutter towards success came in reaching the Euro 2008 semi-finals in fine style – led by the mercurial Andrey Arshavin – but just as quickly, any hopes of glory were gone – and are yet to return. You may…

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The last great days of the Soviet Union

Twenty pivotal seconds brought football’s Iron Curtain down. Munich’s iconic Olympiastadion played host to the final of the 1988 European Championships, and it was here, in the 57th minute, that the last great act of the Soviet Union unfolded. Trailing 2-0, the second goal, that incredible Marco van Basten goal, the one which left Rinat…

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Lev Yashin: the heroic gentleman in black

There have been many great goalkeepers in the history of the game. They range from the sober, colder types to the theatrical, colourful types and everything in between. But there is one man who is universally acclaimed through the decades to be the greatest of them all. In an age when Di Stéfano, Pelé, Charlton and…

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The Death Match of 1942

BY THE MIDDLE OF SEPTEMBER 1941, just three months after Adolf Hitler’s army had invaded the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’s capital Kyiv was occupied by The Wehrmacht after a cruel and bloody siege that lasted for 72 days. However, the Nazi government did not want to look like brutal tyrants in the eyes of…

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This is Russia: a story of west and east

“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Winston Churchill’s famous words in October 1939 at the breakout of World War Two ring out as loudly today as they did during Stalin’s Soviet reign. While communism and the core ideologies of Marxist socialism have long since met their end, the autocratic feeling of ‘Mother…

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A Tale of One City: Moscow

This feature is part of A Tale of One City “Daddy needs vodka, or he can’t ensure victory.” When Oleg Romanstev sent his five-year-old son into the VIP box at Anfield during a Champions League tie between Spartak Moscow and Liverpool in 2002 demanding strong liquor, it was a sign of the sad demise of one…

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