The Russian national football team become the first to reserve its official place among the finalists of the 2018 World Cup exercising its right as the host country.
The Russian national football team began playing in the FIFA competitions in 1992. Since then, Russians have took part in the World Cups three times, but the team failed in all three performances. For the first time the Russian national team went to the World Cup 1994 in the USA. Fans counted on a successful performance of the team in the tournament but the fortune wasn't on the Russians side. The Brazil, Sweden and Cameroon national teams got into the group with Russia. To get into the play-off at least from the third place Russians needed to score at least four points, but the team didn't cope with the challenge. Defeat from Brazil and Sweden deprived Russia of the chance to enter the round of last 16. The great victory of Russia over the Cameroon national team with the score 5:1 could sugar-covered the bitter truth. Four goals were scored by Oleg Salenko, the forward of the team who became the top goalscorer of the tournament.
Next time the Russian national football team got to the World Cup eight years later in 2002. That time Russians got into one of the weakest groups of the tournament (the opponents of Russia became the Tunisia, Japan and Belgium national teams), where, like in the tournament 1994, could win only one tome (over Tunisia), and lost the rest two games.
Even worse the team performed at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Again, its opponents at the group stage became the Belgium national team, the representatives of Asia (the South Korea national team) and Africa (the Algeria national team). Like twelve years earlier the national team was expected at least to reach the play-off, however, Russians for another time couldn't get onto one of the first two lines in the table. Two draws and defeat from the Belgium team for the third time in succession left the Russian national football team beyond the World Cup play-off.
The performances of the Russian national team in the European Championships were much more successfully. Russians participated in five of six tournaments, and once they won the bronze medals. That was in 2008 on the tournament in Austria and Switzerland. The team arrived to the tournament under the leadership of Guus Hiddink, a Dutch expert, and the team frame consisted of the football players of Zenit who shone that year on the pitches in Europe. The coaching staff managed to prepare the team optimally for matches in the tournament. If in the first game Russians, without chances, conceded to the Spanish national team by a score of 1:4, then in the games against Sweden and Greece they showed the excellent football which gave the result — victories 2:0 and 1:0.
In the quarter-final the Russian national team played against the Netherlands powerful national team the which by right was considered as a favorite of the tournament. The Dutch national team won at the group stage three plays (over Romania, Italy and France) and showed the great football. But in the quarter-final match Russians appeared stronger. Guus Hiddink players gave the best match in the history of the Russian national team and surely played against the severe opponent, thanks to goals of Pavlyuchenko, Arshavin and Torbinski.
In the semi-final of European Championship the Russian national team for the second time in the tournament played against the Spanish national team. Russians adequately battled a half of the game but closer to the end of the match the class of more skilled Spaniards affected. Defeat 0:3, and, thus, the Russian national team for the first time in history won the bronze medals of the European Championship.
As well as the Russian team has one participation on the Confederations Cup. In 2017 the Russians for the first time, and maybe for the last one in their history, get a right to play in such an important tournament being the host country of the following World Cup. Unfortunately, the Russians were not able to achieve significant success. The tournament hosts managed to win only once in three matches and left the Confederations Cup on the group stage.
Over last years the Russian national football team follows the defensive tactics when creating its game. It is difficult to highlight someone from the players. The today Russian national team generally consists of strong players of average level, and success of the team depends on physical and tactical readiness for a certain match. One of the most famous team players is Igor Akinfeev, the captain and the main goalkeeper throughout the last one and a half decades. In the attacking line of the team there are two outstanding forwards — impressive Artem Dzyuba and technical Fedor Smolov.