In the article “Russian clubs in Eurocups” we will tell you about the best seasons of Russian soccer teams in club tournaments under the auspices of UEFA.
The triumphs of CSKA, Spartak, Lokomotiv, Zenit and Rubin in Eurocups not only made the clubs famous, but also inspired new generations of players and fans.
In the winning years, Russian clubs were often the outsiders of matches. Nevertheless, fans supported the clubs in stadiums and on TV, and the teams delighted them with their play and results.
Spartak in Cup Winners’ Cup 1992/93
In the 1992/93 season, Spartak was unstoppable. The Moscow club reached the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup (CWC), battling Luxembourg’s Avenir, English Liverpool and Dutch Feyenoord along the way. After the Red and Whites defeated these clubs, many experts began to consider them the favorites of that CWC draw.
But the Muscovites were stopped by Belgian Antwerp. Even though Spartak lost the second semifinal match (1-3), Europe recognized the strength of the Russians on the international stage.
Spartak in UEFA Cup 1997/98
In the 1997/98 season, Spartak were also on fire. In the UEFA Cup, the team under Oleg Romantsev made it to the ½ finals, beating Swiss Sion (6:1), Spanish Valladolid (4:1), German Karlsruhe (1:0) and Dutch Ajax (4:1).
In the semifinals, Spartak faced future champion Inter of Italy. The Muscovites fell in both games (1:2 and 1:2), but proved that it was no accident that they found themselves in the semifinals.
Lokomotiv in Cup Winners ‘ Cup 1997/98
The 1997/98 season was a successful one for Russian soccer. “Lokomotiv” with Yuri Syomin at the helm also reached the semifinals of the European Cup, but already the Cup Winners’ Cup.
The Muscovites faced Belshina, Kocaelispor and AEK, but they defeated all these clubs. Ahead of them was Stuttgart, and here Loko failed (1:2 in the first match and 0:1 in the second). However, the Muscovites proved in the 1997/98 season that it was not only Spartak who were strong in Russia.
Lokomotiv in Cup Winners’ Cup 1998/99
Having felt the sweetness of Eurocups, Loko repeated their way to the semi-finals of the CWC.
In the 1998/99 season, Yuriy Palych’s players dealt with CSKA Kyiv, Portuguese Braga and Israeli Maccabi, but stopped one step away from the title.
The Red-Greens fought with Italian Lazio on equal terms: they drew with the future winner of CWC-1999 in both matches (1:1 and 0:0). But the Italians made it to the final thanks to an away goal.
CSKA victory in UEFA Cup 2004/05
In 2005, CSKA was the first Russian team to win a European Cup. It all started with the group stage of the Champions League in the 2004/05 season. Then the Red-Blues finished third, so they “fell” into the UEFA Cup playoffs.
In the first two elimination rounds, the Army men were beaten by Benfica and Partizan, with the same results – 1-1 away and 2-0 at home. Then, in the quarterfinals, CSKA defeated French Auxerre (4-2 on aggregate of two games), and in the semifinals – with Italian Parma (3-0 on aggregate of two games).
In the UEFA Cup match the Muscovites faced Sporting Portugal. And on May 18, 2005, thanks to goals from Berezutsky, Zhirkov and Vagner Love, CSKA became the European Cup triumphant (3-1). Everyone congratulated the team at the time, including the Russian president.
Zenit win UEFA Cup and Supercup 2008
The Russians did not wait long for the next victory in the Eurocups. In 2008, Zenit St. Petersburg shone in the best stadiums of Europe.
Dick Advocaat’s team started from the second qualifying round and finished with the cup in their hands. In the playoffs, the Blues stomped Villarreal, Marseille, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern, and in the final – on May 14, 2008 – swept away Rangers with goals from Denisov and Zyryanov (2-0).
With the victory in the UEFA Cup Zenit got a ticket to the UEFA Super Cup 2008, where they fought with Manchester United. The St. Petersburg side won the match on August 29 of the same year (2-1), and it turned out that two British teams lost to the Russians within 3.5 months.
Rubin in Champions League 2009/10
Rubin Kazan’s first season in the 2009/10 Champions League was a sensation. Although the Red-Greens started with a 1-3 defeat to Dynamo Kyiv, they went on to draw three times (against Inter, Barcelona and Dynamo) and even defeated 2008/09 Champions League champion Barcelona in Spain 2-1.
Even though Rubin were not expected to win, they still tickled the nerves of the Italians and Spaniards. And coach Berdyev’s team were the only side to beat Barça on their home field in the Champions League for another three years. Only in 2013, the Spaniards lost at home for the second time (0:3). The offender was Germany’s Bayern Munich.
CSKA in Champions League 2009/10
The 2009/10 season gave Russian fans not only the Kazan victory over Barça, but also CSKA’s march to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. The club initially got into the same group as Manchester United, Wolfsburg and Besiktas, but Leonid Slutsky’s protégés scored 10 points and reached the playoffs from the second place in the group.
In the 1/8 finals CSKA faced Spain’s Sevilla. The Army Men snatched victory in the away match (2:1) and fell to Inter, the future triumphant of the 2009/10 Champions League. The Red-Blues lost both games (1-0 and 1-0) and dropped out of the draw.
Rubin in Europa League 2012/13
“Rubin” reached the peak in Eurocups in the 2012-13 draw. In the group stage of the Europa League, the Kazans never lost to Inter, Partizan and Neftchi: they drew twice and won four more times.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Red-Greens fell to Atletico Madrid. Despite the defeat in the first game (0:1), the Kazan team defeated the Spaniards at home (2:0) and went to ⅛ of the final. At the next stage “Rubin” again met with a team from Spain – “Levante”. In extra time of the second match, the Tatarstan club nailed the Spaniards (2:0) and for the first time appeared in the quarterfinals of the European Cup. English Chelsea were waiting for him there.
Rubin scored four goals in two games (1:3 and 3:2), but it was not enough to advance to the next stage. “Chelsea” went to the semifinals and then won the Europa League. But Kazan still wrote their name in the history of Russian soccer.