Spain III Division

Spain. Ranked 4th by UEFA. By now Italy was the place to be, but Spain still got top foreign players. Real Madrid dominated domestic football and Barcelona disappointed in the championship its fans.
Third level – that is Segunda B Division. 80 teams divided into 4 groups – there was expansion announced the previous years from 2 to 4 groups, so 63 teams were newcomers. Geography determined the composition of the groups. The winners were promoted to Second Division and the last 4 in each group were relegated to Tercera Division – 4th level. As a general rule, only few familiar clubs played in third level.
Group 1.
Caudal ended with 28 points and was one of the relegated teams at 18th place.
Arenteiro survived – 16th with 32 points.
Endesa As Pontes – 10th with 39 points.
Real Aviles Industrial – 2nd with 53 points. Not really a title contender.
Eibar dominated the group and won it with 59 points from 26 wins, 7 ties, 5 losses and 68-21 goal-difference. Happily promoted to Second Division.
Group 2.
Mirandes was one of the relegated: 18th with 31 points.
L’Hospitalet – 5th with 45 points.
Dramatic battle for 1st place – Deportivo Aragon and Mollerussa finished with 52 points each and the same goal-difference of +25. Head-to-head results decided the winner – Mollerussa, by a single goal (1-2 and 2-0). Everything according to size – for modest Mollerussa going to play Second Division football was fantastic success. Their highest achievement so far.
Group 3. No drama here – one team dominated the championship.

Linares – 6th with 42 points.

 Vinuesa, Burgueña, Galvez, Serafín, Oscar y Luna Eslava; Valentín, López Murga, Vallina, Totó y Nando

Cordoba – 5th with 43 points.

Salamanca had no rival and with 57 points they finished 8 points ahead of second-best Badajoz. Quick return to their familiar Second Division.
Group 4. No real rival to the leader.
Mestalla went down – 16th with 31 points: 5 teams were relegated in this group, because more than one team came down from Second Division to it.
Polideportivo Almeria was lucky to survive by 1 point – 14th with 32 points.

Clemot, Martínez, Paulino, Lema, Fernando y Gambín; :Juli, Daza, Luque, Domínguez y Joaquín 

Alcoyano – 10th with 37 points.
Gandia – 8th with 40 points.
Melilla – 7th with 40 points.
Olimpic Xativa – 4th with 48 points. With better goal-difference would have been 2nd.
UD Azira – confident winners with 52 points. Well deserved promotion.
Well, judging by tradition, only Salamanca had a chance to stay in Second Division, but who knows what may happen? Good luck to Salamanca, Mollerussa, UD Azira, and Real Aviles Industrial next season!

West Germany the Cup

The Cup. Eintracht Frankfurt and VfL Bochum reached the final. Eintracht looked like the favourite, but not absolutely. Given their predicament, the only chance for Bochum to win anything was the Cup tournament. They were experienced fighters, managing to survive in the Bundesliga for a long time always playing against superior teams. Eintracht did not have good season, so there was a chance. Motivation was not an issue at all. The final was tough enough and Bochum did the best they could, but Lajos Detari scored for Eintracht and that was that.
Unfortunately, VfL Bochum lost a second Cup final. With a team like that, it was kind of expected loss – modest as ever, their only player with fame was the Polish striker Andrzey Iwan. A few years back hailed as the next great Polish player, but expectations did not materialized – amply exemplified by playing for Bochum and not some big famous club. Not enough to win a trophy. Still, Bochum tried hard and lost minimally. But lost…
Eintracht Frankfurt won its 4th Cup – it was their specialty, but earlier they were leading team. Now they were going down and had miserable season. That made them eager to compensate and there was no doubt the final was very important to them. The team – by names – was not as bad as their season went, but was not great either. Korbel and troublemaker Stein were aging dangerously, Smolarek was going somewhat downhill – a few years ago he was expected to reach the stardom of Boniek, but he did not (still, he was classier than Bochum’s Iwan, who was supposed to reach the expected stardom of Smolarek). Manfred Binz and Lajos Detari were the only players young enough to guarantee good future – and the Hungarian scored the winning goal! Well, the team was classier than Bochum’s and eventually prevailed. It was great for the morale, great for the fans, great for Korbel and Stein, for whom this was perhaps the last chance to win a trophy. Great for Detari, who would keep attention on himself and increase his value. And great for tradition: Eintracht confirmed that the Cup was their specialty. It was noticed they played Cup finals dressed in their reserve white jerseys, black shorts, white socks – lucky kit, bringing success.

West Germany I Division

The Bundesliga. Three teams much stronger than the rest, 2 outsiders and only 5 points separating the 7th from the 16th, which meant that more than of the league, including the fresh UEFA Cup winners Bayer (Leverkusen), had relegation to worry about.
Schalke 04 was in very bad shape – last and relegated with 23 points. Tony Schumacher going down to Second Division… well, his book outraged many and made pariah of him. He was no longer a valuable player and relegation looked like the last punishment for opening his mouth, no matter rightly or wrongly. He was not going to suffer Second Division, but to play in Turkey – may be one more punishment?
FC Homburg 08 – 17th with 24 points. Relegated, but that was expected.
Waldhof Mannheim – 16th with 28 points. However, they still had a chance to keep place in the Bundesliga, going to promotion/relegation play-off against the 3rd in the Second Division. Dramatically, they prevailed over SV Darmstadt 98 in penalty shoot-out and survived.
Karlsruher SC escaped relegation by a point – 15th with 29 points. Very young Oliver Kahn here and judging by the struggles of his club, nothing to indicate a legendary player was coming.
1. FC Kaiserslautern – 14th with 29 points. Lucky to survive.
Borussia Dortmund – 13th with 29 points. Barely survived. 4-5 years back they were a team with big promise, but it did not materialize.
VfL Bochum – modest as ever, but survived again. Well, they were masters of that. 12th with 30 points.
FC Bayer 05 Uerdingen – 11th with 31 points. A few good players – foreign players – and one future huge star getting the taste of Bundesliga life: Bierhoff.
Hannover 96 – this year Kicker decided to use their full, but rarely used named: Hannoverscher SV 96. Apart from this minor point – nothing special: escaped relegation, which was their normal aim when playing in the Bundesliga. 10th with 31 points.
Eintracht Frankfurt – 9th with 31 points. Perhaps their kit was their most impressive feature this season. Escaped relegation, but they had something to smile about at the end. Lajos Detari, arguably the last Hungarian great player, was their prime star – but looked like they were not going to keep him for long. Smolarek was somewhat fading – it was already clear that he was not going to match the fame of fellow Pole Boniek. And how long Korbel was going to play? Looked like forever…
Bayer Leverkusen – conquered Europe this season, but Bundesliga was another matter. 8th with 32 points and negative goal-difference. At least theoretically, they have been in danger of relegation.
Borussia Moenchengladbach – 7th with 33 points. The best of the weak, so to say. A team with Frontzeck, Rahn, Thorstvedt, Herlovsen, and young talent Effenberg should have been better – but the 1970s were gone, it was not a great squad.
Hamburger SV – 6th with 37 points. Nothing to worry about, solid enough, but already lost its leading position – the great years were over. Kaltz was still around. There was little known yet American in the team – Caligiuri. After the Japanese and the South Koreans, now Americans were coming to play in West Germany. The motivation was the same – in order to develop playing in West Germany was the best option.
1. FC Nurnberg – 5th with 37 points. For them – great season. The team was rather modest, which made the achievement more valuable. Apart from national team goalkeeper Andreas Kopke, a future was here: Stefan Reuter.
VfB Stuttgart – 4th with 40 points. Running strong, but no longer a title contender. Perhaps a bit short squad.
To a point, may be their most memorable thing was the curious photo on the roof. Photos don’t win titles, though.
And the top 3 teams – they fought between themselves, leaving the rest far behind. Three-side race eventually was reduced to 2 fighting for silver and one alone running for the gold.
1. FC Koln eventually ended with bronze, finishing behind Bayern on worse goal-difference. 48 points. Exciting coach – Daum. Good squad: Woodcock, M. Olsen, Allofs, Illgner, Hassler. Kargus supported from the bench. The troublemaker Schumacher was practically expelled from the team and the club somewhat survived the scandal he caused. However, this was not exactly champion squad.
Bayern – with 48 points, they clinched 2nd place on better goal-difference. The title they lost already, which was a bit strange – Bayern had the strongest squad in the country. Pragmatic as ever, they hired the best young coach at the moment – Jupp Heynckes. Never mind he played against Bayern during his whole career – he was the man the keep Bayern on top. Did not work this season.

Never mind Heynckes – Otto Rehhagel was the great coach at the moment. His Werder won 22 games, tied 8, lost only 4. Scored 61 goals, permitted only 22 in its own net. 52 points put them 4 ahead of Bayern and 1. FC Koln – unquestionable champions! Of course, the team was good Votava, Ordenewitz, Borowka, Burgsmuller, Burdenski, Bratseth, up and coming Eilts, Riedle and Reck. Good team, yet, not excellent team – mostly second raters, really. Players, who were highly respected, but rarely played for the national team. Bratseth was regular national team player, but he played for lowly Norway. So, it came largely to Rehhagel and his tactics – a bit on the defensive side, but his squad hardly permitted anything else: play conservative and well organized football and you may prosper against predatory classier Bayern. It worked just fine – Werder received half the goal Bayern received (22 vs 45), although not scoring very much (Bayern scored most – 83, followed by Stuttgart – 69, and Hamburger – 63) – only 4th best: 61. But solid defense gave them the best goal-difference +39 (Bayern had +38), very rarely they lost a match and triumphed at the end.
Werder (Bremen) won its 2nd title – had to wait 13 years for that, but it was theirs again. It did not look like Werder was going to build a dynasty, it looked like a victory of the underdog – and that perhaps made it sweeter. If anything, it was so nice to rub the nose of giant Bayern.

West Germany II Division

Second Division. 20 teams, the bottom 4 relegated to the regional leagues, the top 2 directly promoted to the Bundesliga and the 3rd going to promotion/relegation play-off against the Bundesliga 16th. Half the league fought for survival this season and about 6 teams – for promotion. Times were rough for some well known clubs – TSV 1860 Munchen, MSV Duisburg, Hertha BSC, Eintracht Frankfurt were already playing third level football and some of them were unable to climb back.
Arminia (Bielefeld) suffered the same decline – they had terrible season in which sunk to outsiders: finished last with only 22 points. Down they went… goalkeeper Kneib used to play European finals! Such fate.
SSV Ulm 1846 (Ulm) – 19th with 29 points and relegated.
FC Reimscheid – well, properly BVL 08 Reimscheid – ended 18th with 29 points and also went down. Hardly a surprise. A Japanese player – Kazama – should be noticed, along with South Korean – Kim – playing down in third level for Hertha BSC: it started with Okudera and Bum-kun Cha and continued – Japanese and South Korean popped up in West German teams regularly during the 1980s. Not in big numbers, but steadily. Now another developing country (in football terms) followed the example – USA.
SpVgg Bayreuth – now, that was lucky team: they finished 17th with 33 points and should have been relegated. But they survived.

Rot-Weiss (Oberhausen) – 16th with 33 points. Above SpVgg Bayreuth on better goal-difference and technically safe. But they had their license revoked and relegated – must have been financial troubles. One more former Bundesliga club bites the dust.
SG Union (Solingen) escaped relegation by a point – 15th with 34 points.
SV Meppen – also managed to escape relegation: 14th with 34 points. Ahead of Union Solingen either on more scored goals or better head-to-head record, for everything else was identical.
1.FC Saarbrucken – fighting for promotion in not so distant past, now fighting for survival. 13th with 34 points.
Fortuna (Koln) – one more team lucky to escape relegation: 12th with 34 points.
Rot-Weiss (Essen) – with Horst Hrubesch at the helm, but good only for escaping relegation: 11th with 34 points. Thanks to better goal-difference they were at the top of large group trying to survive.
SC Freiburg – 10th with 38 points. So far, they were modest second-division club and this season was no exception. The only impressive thing was their African import Souleyman Sane (Senegal), who was the goalscorer of the season with 21 goals – the first foreigner to be the top scorer of 2.Bundesliga.
VfL Osnabruck – 9th with 38 points and amusingly perfect record: 13 wins, 12 ties, 13 losses, 47-47 goal-difference.
Kickers (Offenbach) – 8th with 39 points. Not the end of the world, but slowly sinking into obscurity.
Blau-Weiss 90 (West Berlin) – 7th with 43 points. Now, that was practically a big success – West Berlin clubs traditionally had difficulties and tended to be small and fragile. Blau-Weiss 90 may be ranked 3rd in the city – behind Hertha and Tennis Borussia. But they played well in Second Division (could not even dream for more) when Hertha was struggling to come back from third level and Tennis Borussia was unable to do even that.
Alemannia (Aachen) – 6th with 46 points. Ended at the bottom of the group fighting for promotion. Which was their usual, really – solid, but only in terms of second-level football.
Fortuna (Dusseldorf) – 5th with 46 points. In the process of rebuilding, which so far was not going well.
SG Wattenscheid 09 – 4th with 47 points. What happened here? They were 4th with more points than the third-placed. A mystery, but to their disadvantage.
With 46 points SV Darmstadt 98 was placed 3rd. Thus, they went to the promotion/relegation play-off against the 16th in the Bundesliga – SV Waldhof Mainnheim. The play-off was highly dramatic – Darmstads won their home leg 3-2, then lost in Mainnheim 1-2. Away- goal rule did not apply and there was penalty shoot-out after extra time – Waldhof was luckier and won it 5-4. Darmstadt had to remain in the Second Division – which may have been even fair outcome, since they qualified mysteriously to the play-off.
FC St. Pauli (Hamburg) – 2nd with 49 points. Nothing mysterious about that – they had enough points and were promoted for one more try of First Division football. Modest club, they had their usual modest squad, so it was great achievement, but higher level was more than challenging. Still, it was wonderful to see them going up again.
Stuttgarter Kickers (Stuttgart) won the championship with 51 points from 19 wins, 13 ties, 6 losses and 89-49 goal-difference. Now, this was kind of a surprise, for they never before appeared as candidates to play top-league football. As second-division teams go, they were just fine and depending to well foreign players – the former Yugoslavian national team player Hotic and the Polish hero of the 1974 World Cup Kmiecik. May be fine for Second Division, but more than that would be needed for successful debut in the Bundesliga. Still, wish them good luck. It was interesting outcome: two teams from the same city rarely played together in the Bundesliga and in 1988-89 season there were going to be two local derbies – in Hamburg and Stuttgart. Hamburg derby was played before, but Stuttgart’s was going to be the first time – it happened before, but in the Second Division. In any case two underdogs were promoted this year, which was also a rarity.

West Germany III Level

West Germany. Ranked 3rd by UEFA. Three teams way above the rest and may be a bit surprising champion, which stayed alone. Dramatic battle for 2nd position decided by goal-difference. Intriguing failure of both club and big star. Interesting generation of coaches coming to maturity.
The vast regional system is too much for thorough presentation, so just a glimpse of Third level:
TSV 1860 Munchen was here, seemingly for good. Top row from left: Frank Wild, Roland Kneißl, Franz Becker, Andreas Löbmann, Michael Karl, Thomas Schwegle, Thomas Renner, Stefan Jaxt.
Middle row: Trainer Thomas Zander, Masseur Hodrius, Rainer Aigner, Jörg Schepers, Andreas Schmid, Thomas Zinkl. Betreuer Hugo Hackl, Zeugwart Reisch.
Sitting: Detlef Bruckhoff, Zdenek Prokes, Joachim Goldstein, Daniel Sciopu, Siegfried Grüninger, Bernd Geesdorf, Klaus Wabra, Kurt Pinkall.
SpVgg Furth kept them company in the Bavarian highest league.
Wormatia Worms used to Second Division was now in Third level too. Third row from left: Ralf Karb, Günter Braun, Stefan Steinmetz, Jürgen Klotz, Helmut Wagner
Middle row: Liga-Obmann Manfred Brassen, Zeugwart Günter Reinhardt, Jozéf Adamiec, Stefan Mauer, Mario Brassen, Jürgen Hebinger, Harald Nägle, Jürgen Fischer, Heinz-Jürgen Schlösser, Trainer Gerd Menne
Sitting: Andreas Großmann, Äaron Biagioli, Günter Pawlitschek, Atilla Miko, Günter Knecht, Erik Strubel, Volker Kühr, Bernd Nathmann, Uwe Eckel, Holger Schneidt
But never mind the unfortunates – the 9 regional champions competed for 4 promotions after the end of the regular season, divided as ever into 2 groups – Southern and Northern. In the South somewhat weaker – if names indicate anything – teams played:
FV09 Weinheim,
SpVgg Unterhaching. Those two were unable to climb up.
Viktoria Aschaffenburg (this may be a picture of the previous season, though) and
1.FSV Mainz 05 won promotion in the Southern German tournament. Good luck to them in the Second Division.
The Northern tournament had 5 teams competing – West Germany had 9 regional championships, one of them West Berlin. May be because of the weird status of this city championship the North had 5 championships. Here well known clubs played, as it turned out.
Preussen Munster lost its chance to climb back to Second Division.
VfL Wolsburg also lost the race for promotion.
MSV Duisburg was the biggest loser – they had to stay in Third level too. Top row from left: Malischke, Vtic, R. Kessen, J. Kessen, Brühl, Haremski, Kober, Lienen, Vössing
Middle row: Telljohann, Notthoff, Tönnies, Puszamszies, Struckmann, Rohr, Ronden, Semlits, Trainer Pirsig
Front row: Zeugwart Schotte, Strunz, Vossnacke, Kellermann, Lörsch, Macherey, Zils, Canini, Masseur Hinkelmann, Mannschaftsarzt Wendt
Well, there were only 2 spots, not enough for all former Bundesliga members. MSV Duisburg lost its chance, but
Eintracht Braunschweig and
Hertha BSC West Berlin managed to win promotions and return to second level at least.
Well, were the newly promoted teams worthy of Second Division football will be seen next season.

USSR the Cup

The Cup final was played early this year – at the end of May. Well, it was played in many different months, sometimes as late as September. Torpedo (Moscow) and Metallist (Kharkov) reached the final and tradition favoured Torpedo. Reality, however… Metallist scored from a penalty near the end of the first half and then scored a second goal in the 65th minute. Torpedo was unable to return even one goal and looked quite inferior compared to modest Metallist. But it was the 1980s and Metallist was Ukrainian team – that is, they played tough physical football, nothing flashy, nothing sentimental. Tactically, Metallist was very uncomfortable opponent for Torpedo, which preferred counter-attacks and because of that was more successful on the road than at home. Metallist, however, forced them to attack and Torpedo was quite lost in that. And that was that… 0-2.
Torpedo (Moscow) lost the final. Sitting from left: V. Yurin – assistant coach, N. Pissarev, S. Agashkov, V. Ivanov – coach, A. Gitzelov, Yu. Savichev, G. Grishin, Yu. Zolotov – team chief.
Standing: O. Shirinbekov, V. Grechnev, A. Polukarov, A. Kalaychev, V. Sarychev, S. Zhukov, A. Prudnikov, V. Rogovskoy, A. Rudakov, S. Prigoda.
Not a bad team, but nothing special – hence, no miracles. Losing the final was very disappointing, for Torpedo was supposed to be the stronger finalist, but may be they should not be judged very harshly: this squad reached the Cup final and finished 3rd in the championship. Not bad at all and from the time distance – perhaps the last successful season of the club.
Metallist (Kharkov) – Cup winners for the first time! First trophy ever for the club and great legendary victory of the underdog. Crouching from left: N. Romanchuk, V. Yalovsky, A. Ivanov, I. Yakubovsly, V. Suslo, I. Panchishin, V. Vashtenko, O. Morozov.
Standing: M. Shamilo – masseur, R. Khagba, L. Buryak, A. Zaslavsky – administrator, O. Derevinsky, L. Tkachenko – team chief, A. Baranov, E. Lemeshko – coach, Yu. Tarassov, G. Adzhoev, Yu. Sivukha, R. Shpodarunok – assistant coach, V. Zub – chairman of Kharkov county sport committee.
If Torpedo was somewhat pedestrian, Metallist was modest squad – Leonid Buryak was the great name, but he was not only old, but going to play in Finland soon. Apart from him… Guram Adzhoev and Oleg Morozov, both new recruits and somewhat similar to Buryak – with considerably long careers elsewhere and getting long in the tooth already. The predicament of Metallist was not even that of Dnepr – they were even lower in the Ukrainian scale, so they would hope only for what was left after Dinamo (Kiev), Shakter (Donetzk), Dnepr, and even Chernomoretz (Odessa) satisfied themselves. Hence, the best additions were veterans like Buryak or players nobody was interested of anymore like Morozov and Adzhoev. To a point, not even second-rate players, but third rate… and with them they won the Cup! One has to take into account that Metallist was Ukrainian club and Ukrainian football led Soviet football for a long time – thus, Metallist was not exactly to be dismissed, especially when playing against Moscow team: the physical and often brutal Ukrainian football was greatly inconvenient for Moscow teams, as the final showed once again. Pride also worked in favour of Metallist – Ukrainians always played with great motivation against the ‘Moscals’. Thus, Ukraine won once again on two fronts – both the championship and the Cup. Like Dnepr, Metallist did not play exciting football, but since they were underdogs, it was sweet to see them win.
First time winners deserve a second look – especially because there was not going to be a second success.

USSR I Division

First Division. The usual 16-team league, the last 2 relegated. The 10-tie limit rule remained – looked like it was beneficial. However, there was a caveat: in case a team played without players called to the national team, the tie-limit did not apply to them. Thus, Dinamo (Minsk) got a point against Dinamo (Tbilisi) and Spartak (Moscow) against Ararat. As a result the only team losing points for exceeding the tie-limit was Lokomotiv (Moscow) – they lost points against Dinamo (Moscow) and Spartak (Moscow). In case of equal points, the team with more wins came ahead – thus, Dinamo (Moscow) ended ahead of Metallist (Kharkov). Rules and playing with rules were a bit of a problem – for instance, the battle against unspoken match-fixing by ties was seemingly won, but since the scoring was not increasing much, it may have been a case of readjustment: teams chose to exchange wins instead of ties. The priorities of the national team over everything else often resulted in Dinamo (Kiev) scheming – since the national team was largely Dinamo (Kiev), the club had many games postponed – rightly of wrongly, but usually they had a few games still to play when everybody else was done with the season and thus had the advantage to play for needed results against disinterested opponents. The other clubs disliked that, but they could do nothing – the national team priorities were iron-clad excuse for machinations. And this season Dinamo (Kiev) again had to play after their rivals were finished, but luckily it did not matter. Two outsiders at the bottom and 3 teams competing for the title.
Kairat (Alma-ata) finished last with 16 points.
Neftchi (Baku) – 15th with 17 points. Nothing new… Kairat and Neftchi relegated once again, as many times before. And having been relegated together was nothing new either. Back to Second Division, the constant meandering of these two clubs between first and second level.

Dinamo (Tbilisi) – 14th with 23 points. Their decline was continuing, nothing new… still too strong to be relegated, but who knows?

Chernomoretz (Odessa) – 13th with 24 points.
Dinamo (Minsk) – 12th with 25 points. In decline or may be on their traditional level? Top row from left: Leonid Vassilevsky – administrator, Sergey Shiroky, Sergey Borovsky, Andrey Shalimo, Yury Trukhan, Georgy Kondratyev, Sergey Pavlyuchun, Pavel Rodnenok, Aleksandr Chernukho – masseur.
Middle row: Valery Palamarchuk, Viktor Yanushevsky, Viktor Sokol, Ivan Schekin – assistant coach, Mikhail Vergeenko – team chief, Eduard Malofeev – coach, Ivan Savostikov – assistant coach, Vassily Dmitrakov – doctor, Andrey Zygmantovich, Genady Lessun, Andrey Satzunkevich.
Front row: Sergey Aleynikov, Yury Antonovich, Sergey Gotzmanov, Sergey Gomonov, Aleksandr Kisten, Aleksandr Metlitzky.

Metallist (Kharkov) – 11th with 26 points. Nothing special in the championship, but this was their best ever year.
Dinamo (Moscow) – not a factor for a long, long time… 10th with 26 points. Top row from left: A. Gassov – masseur, D. Kharin, B. Pozdnyakov, A. Smirnov, I. Dobrovolsky, I. Bulanov, I. Sklyarov, I. Kolyvanov, A. Uvarov, N. Gontar.
Middle row: A. Yardoshvili – doctor, V. Demidov, A. Kobelev, A. Golodetz – assistant coach, A. Byshovetz – coach, N. Tolstykh – team chief, A. Borodyuk, S. Silkin, ?, V. Krupenin – administrator.
Sitting: S. Ushakov, V. Vassiliev. V. Karataev, S. Kiryakov, V. Lossev, S. Stukashov, G. Morozov, A. Timoshenko.
Ararat (Erevan) – 9th with 27 points.
Shakhter (Donetzk) – 8th with 28 points. Standing from left: A. Konkov – coach, A. Karpenev – team chief, A. Sopko, V. Goshkoderya, S. Zolotnitzky, E. Dragunov, O. Smolyaninov, I. Petrov, V. Grachev, S. Yashtenko, Yu. Gulyaev, V. Malyshev – assistant coach, Yu. Fishelev – administartor.
First row: I. Leonov, M. Olifirenko, S. Svistun, A. Kobozev, V. Evseev, V. Yurchenko.
Lokomotiv (Moscow) – 7th with 30 points. Sitting row from left: M. Russyaev, I. Gurinovich, I. Konyaev, S. Bazulev, S. Cherchessov, R. Ataulin, V. Abramzon, D. Gorkov, Kh. Ilyaletdinov, V. Korotkov – assistant coach.
Middle row: A. Mikhalychev, V. Karmin, Yu. Vasilkov – doctor, V. Shevchenko – team chief, Yu. Semin – coach, A. Petrashevsky -assistant coach, O. Shinkarev, R. Gallagberov, A. Shiryaev, N. Larin – masseur, B. Udovenko – administrator.
Top row: A. Kalaychev, A. Dozmorov, A. Kalashnikov, ?, A. Solovtzov, I. Terenin, E. Mileshkin, P. Mazurin, S. Gorlukovich.
Zenit (Leningrad) – 6th with 31 points.
Zalgiris (Vilnius) – 5th with 35 points. The team most talked about in the last 2-3 years – running strong with its home-grown players and some of them already playing for various USSR representations – mostly in the Olympic team.
Spartak (Moscow) – 4th with 39 points. For the first time in 10 years outside the top 3 and not a title contender. Given the players of this squad (Dassaev, Khidiatulin, Cherenkov, Rodionov, Pasulko, Shalimov, Bubnov, Susloparov) this squad should have been a title contender – no wonder this season stays as a shameful failure in the eyes of many.
Torpedo (Moscow) – 3rd with 42 points. Most likely the last successful season of Torpedo – they were very close to a double. At least by points, they fought for the title – how true was that is a matter of opinion. Sitting from left: ?, Yurin – assistant coach, Nikonov – assistant coach, Zolotov – team chief, Ivanov -coach, Zhendarev – administrator, ?, Proyaev – doctor.
Middle row: Sarychev, S. Shustikov, Agashkov, Rudakov, Gitzelov, Shirinbekov,Pissarev, Grishin, Prudnikov.
Top row: Kobzev, Grechnev, Rogovskoy, Savichev, Polukarov, Kovach, Prigoda, ?, Tishkov.
Dinamo (Kiev) – 2nd with 43 points. Top row from left: ?, Gorily, Pogodin, Stelmakh, Pikuza – administrator, Bal, Shmatovalenko, Yuran, Mushtinka.
Middle row: Demyanenko, Malyuta – doctor, Chanov, Mikhailichenko, Yakovenko, Kolotov – assistant coach, Veremeev, Lobanovsky – coach, Puzach, Zhidkov, Chubarov – administrator, Baltacha.
Sitting: Evlantyev – doctor, Kuznetzov, Protassov, Yaremchuk, Zavarov, Belanov, Ratz, Litovchenko, Bessonov, Shvydky – masseur.
Lost this championship and one may wonder why with such a team. 12 national team players and some more… the ready excuse was exactly the national team: too many important games on too many fronts. It should be added that the championship was summer-fall and after the European triumph in the summer transfers to the West started – Baltacha and Zavarov were lost.
Dinamo (Kiev) still had a game to play when Dnepr was already a champion after 18 wins, 10 ties, and only 2 lost games. 49-23 goal-difference, 48 points. Crouching from left: Evgeny Shakhov, Aleksandr Sorokalet, Viktor Rafalchuk, Sergey Bashkirov, Eduard Son, Nikolay Kudritzky, Vladimir Bagmut, Oleg Taran.
Middle row: Sergey Krakovsky, Aleksey Cherednik, Aleksandr Tevs – club chairman, Leonid Koltun – assistant coach, Nikolay Filipovsky – team chief, Evgeny Kucherevsky – coach, Aleksandr Lysenko – assistant coach, Viktor Maslov – administrator, Nikolay Chernysh – doctor, Roman Konafotzky – administrator, Valery Gorodov.
Top row: Nikolay Cherny – doctor, Vladimir Gerashtenko, Vadim Tishtenko, Andrey Sidelnikov, Vladimir Lyuty, Igor Shkvyrin, Anton Shokh, Sergey Puchkov, Ivan Vishnevsky, Vyacheslav Chebanov – masseur.
A great example of doing more with less – Dnepr won its 2nd title and although they stayed strong between victories, the winning teams were similar: hardly any famous players, few discarded from Dinamo (Kiev) guys (the best known was the new addition Vadim Evtushenko, former national team player now 30-years old, who was hoped to replace Protassov in attack – the hopes did not materialize and Evtushenko moved back to Kiev in mid-season.) Dnepr was not in position to compete with mighty Dinamo for star players, so they looked elsewhere for recruits – often far away from Ukraine (Eduard Son came from Kairat Alma-ata). Experienced team, perhaps aging a bit, but well balanced. Sturdy fighters, who hardly dazzled the eye, playing tough physical football – may be not attractive team, but effective and motivated, even over-performing. Prime example was Evgeny Shakhov, the 26-years old striker, who came from Second Division Metallurg (Zaporozhye) and instantly became the top scorer of the team – practically unknown player practically replaced Protassov. Similarly, goalkeeper Gorodov relegated the keeper of the first champion team Sergey Krakovksy to back-up goalie – Krakovsky was included in the national team after the first title; Gorodov, however, was not. And there was even curiosity: the right full-back Ivan Vishnevsky became perhaps the oldest national team debutante – at 31 he was called for the first time to the national team and became part (without playing even a minute, though) of the wonderful European vice-champions shortly after winning the title with Dnepr. Yet, it was a team without rel stars – nobody became national team regular, Dnepr players were mostly invloved with Olympic team and even there not in big numbers and not very often. From this perspective – a triumph of the underdog, but its was well respected underdog already and not one-time wonder at all. A testimony of that was that the team survived the loss of Litovchenko and Protassov and without them won the second title. Testimony of good work was that Dnepr remained consistently strong – in sharp contrast with the other champions of the 1980s: Dinamo (Minsk) and Zenit (Leningrad) not only did not repeat their success, but quickly dropped down to their usual relatively lower place in the league. Dnepr achieved the impossible – they became the first and only really provincial club, not even from a republic’s capital, to win the title twice.

USSR II Division

Second Division. 22 teams – 3 relegated and 2 promoted. A limit on ties: 12 – after that, no points. Three teams exceeded the limit and lost points. 10 teams played in the top league before. The city of Rostov had 2 teams in the league and that was criticized – it was considered unhealthy experiment, resulting in mediocrity of both clubs plus shuffling of players between the rivals to nobody’s good. On the positive side was the increased number of candidates for promotion – usually no more than 3 teams competed for 2 promotions, this season there were 7! Yet, ancient ills were still at work and once again it was observed that many teams, including some among the leaders, do not want to be promoted and deliberately slowed down in the second half of the championship. The big disappointment was CSKA (Moscow), which fought for top position, but dropped to 3rd place at the end of the championship. Well, the 80s were real dark decade for CSKA. The league was won by well respected teams which never played top league football – this was somewhat new: usually former First Division teams won Second Division.
Kolos (Nikopol) finished last with 27 points and was relegated.
Zvezda (Perm) 21st with 32 points and out.
Zarya (Voroshilovgrad) – 20th with 32 points and relegated again. Seemingly, there was no recovery for the USSR champions of 1972 – back to Third Division.
Kuban (Krasnodar) – 19th with 35 points.
Kotaik (Abovyan) – 18th with 35 points.
Metallurg (Zaporozhye) – 17th with 36 points (lost 1 point for exceeding the tie limit).
Dinamo (Batumi) – 16th with 36 points.
Kuzbass (Kemerovo) – 15th with 38 points (lost 2 points for exceeding the tie limit).

Tavria (Simferopol) – 14th with 38 points (lost 2 points for exceeding the tie limit).
Spartak (Ordzhonikidze) – 13th with 39 points.
Geolog (Tyumen) – 12th with 39 points.
Shinnik (Yaroslavl) – 11th with 40 points. First row from left: A. Tzenin, ?, A. Molodtzov, Lukasevich, D. Popov, A. Kolesnikov, V. G. Gavrilov.
Standing: V. P. Petrov, S. Volnukhin, I. Makarov, V. G. Gavrilov – masseur, V. Bodrov, E. Martyanov, M. Morozov, Yu. Gerassimov, R. Bilyaletdinov, A. Piskunov, M. Chesnokov, B. Gavrilov, V. Sotnikov, V. Rozhin, A. Nikolaev, V. L. Chistyakov – coach.
Rostselmash (Rostov) – 10th with 40 points.
SKA (Rostov) – 9th with 42 points.

Daugava (Riga) – 8th with 43 points.

SKA Karpaty (Lvov) – 7th with 44 points.
Dinamo (Stavropol) – 6th with 47 points.
Pakhtakor (Tashkent) – 5th with 52 points.
Guria (Lanchkhuti) – 4th with 53 points.
CSKA (Moscow) – 3rd with 56 points. Lost the race by a tiny difference – one more bitter disappointment.
Rotor (Volgograd) – 2nd with 57 points. Clinched it at the end of the championship and was promoted – quite a surprise and a big success for the club. To a point, it was due to the coach Prokopenko, who arrived from Chernomoretz (Odessa), bringing a good player – Skripnik – with himself. Apart from those two, the team was quite anonymous at the moment – and that was a bit of comment on the general strength of the second level of Soviet football: for years it was observed that there were no great talent. That was why former members of the First Division most often won this championship – they had players of better quality. Anyhow, it was time to celebrate in Volgograd.
Pamir (Dushanbe) finished 1st – 24 wins, 10 ties, 8 losses, 78-44 goal-difference, 58 points. They prevailed in tough race and were going to debut in the First Division – great success! No wonder they photographed themselves on mountain peak – they climbed it and were going to climb even higher one. At least that was the gist of the symbolism.
Second Division champions – standing from left: O. Khabi – assistant coach, S. Arslanov, S. Ibadullaev, I. Omelchenko, V. Manasyan, V. Dolganov, V, Sysenko, A. Azimov, A. Volodenko, Yu. Baturenko, V. Ermolaev – captain, S. Baraev – administrator.
Crouching: L. Sapozhnikov – doctor and masseur, Z. Urunov – team chief, V. Tursunov, H. Fuzailov, M. Mukhamediev, R. Rakhimov, A. Manannikov, A. Yuldashev – coach, A. Gertner.
At last winning and going up – the biggest success in the history of the club – but it was a club usually a target of criticism: they played in the Second Division since it was formed and were considered one of the prime culprits of playing ‘safe’: that is, deliberately underperformimg, choosing to be one of the better second-tier clubs than to risk humiliation in the top league. Rotor was also accused of the same attitude, so were others, but Pamir was a staple: a prime example of what was wrong with Second Division. Good and experienced squad, including two of the all-time top scorers of the league – Tursunov and Manasyan. However, Tursunov, already a legend of Second Division, was at the end of his career and would not play in the top league. What made them wanting to climb up at last? Who knows… but they did and won. Speculations could go forever to no plausible conclusion – observers, commenting this championship, did not fail to voice the old accusations – see, we have been saying it for years: Pamir was more than able to win, but did not want to. Club and players said the opposite, of course – this time the team was real good, this time everything clicked right, and the usual platitudes. One thing was clear, though: the team was experienced and well balanced, but in terms of Second Division. To play successfully in the top league they needed new players, players with higher quality – if they could find them and risk major changes.
But all questions and speculations were for the future – presently, there were the new Second Division champions in their glory.

USSR III Division

USSR. The best ever ranking – 2nd by UEFA. Of course, this was strong period for Soviet football in 1988 was very successful year, perhaps the peak of a great generation, so the ranking seemed right. Yet, it was relative ranking based on the performance of the clubs in the European tournaments and therefore not entirely objective – Soviet football was not all that great, if one looks deeper. There were old problems remaining, especially in the lower levels; there was difficult adjustment to new realities – the Perestroika opened mouths and minds, but there was also huge opposition of powerful old guard and persistent habits. Professionalism was a big issue: it was largely big talk, but rules were vague, if existing at all and professionalizing a club was more or less a gray area. Export of players was slowly starting, but that was conducted by state body, not the clubs. Imports also started – on even slower pace. It was all new and unclear, enmeshed with rising political problems – the violent tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia had a peculiar effect on football: because of them Karabakh (Stepanakert) played in Zone 1 of Third Division, which was Russian group of team largely based near Moscow. Geographically, Karabakh belonged to Zone 9 – but their very name suggests why they played in different group. Well, the end of USSR was coming, but nobody felt that, so mostly for the sake of present time some clubs nobody outside USSR heard of back then will be mentioned: when the Soviet Union collapsed they came up in the top Russian league and thus became more or less familiar names. So far they played in the vast Soviet Third Division – or Second League, as it was called. Massive number of clubs played in it, divided in 9 groups – or Zones – somewhat geographically divided. The Zones were very different in strength and also in numbers: Zone 6, the Ukrainian group, was the largest with 26 teams. Zone 4, largely far East Siberian group, and Zone 9, largely made of Georgian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian clubs, were the smallest this year – 16 teams in each. After the regular championships the zonal winners went to the final promotional tournament – 3 teams were promoted to Second Division, as usual, so the 9 winners played in 3 groups of 3 teams and the winners were promoted.
Let take a look who played in the vast Third level universe:
CSKA-2 (Moscow) – 12th in Zone 1. Also Dinamo-2 (Moscow) played in the group – the only second teams of the big clubs in Third Division.
Arsenal (Tula) – 17th in the group of 20 teams. Today they play in the top league of Russia – who imagine that in 1988?
Zone 1 was won by Fakel (Voronezh).
Krylya Sovetov (Kuybyshev – today Samara) – 3rd in Zone 2. That was the biggest name playing Third level football at the moment – and also the first Soviet club to import a foreigner – the Bulgarian defender Tenyo Minchev.
Gastello (Ufa) – 4th. Never played higher than Third level.
Torpedo (Toliatti) – 15th. Top row from left: Valentin Kapelyushnikov – doctor, Mikhail Khudyakov, Alfred Fedorov – coach, Oleg Lukonin, Vadim Malyshev, Aleksandr Fomenko, Igor Gorokhov, Pavel Tabakov, Vyacheskav Kobzev, Oleg Stepanov, ?, Grigory Khomenko, Anatoly Tiryatkin – assistant coach, Sergey Nalivaiko.
Crouching: Yury Voronov, Igor Lyubeyshun, Vladimir Ebsyukov, Evgeny Fedotov, Oleg Bogdanov, Aleksandr Babanov, Nikolay Nebykov, Rafail Khalillulov.
With different name they will pop up in the top league of post-Soviet Russia.
Uralmash (Sverdlovsk) won Zone 2.
Zone 3 had a final play-off, which Cement (Novorossysk) won. What a name…
Tom (Tomsk) – 12th in Zone 4. Later they will play for years in the top Russian league.

Progress (Biysk) – 15th, that is next to last.
Irtysh (Omsk) won Zone 4.
Zveinieks (Liepaia) – 7th in Zone 5. Soon to become a club of foreign country.
RShVSM-RAF (Jelgava) – last 18th this season. Like Zveinieks, soon to become a foreign club.
Nistru (Kishinev) won Zone 5 – a group made of team from Moldavia, Belarus, the Baltic republics, and some Russian clubs from the far West, including Leningrad and Kaliningrad.
SKA (Odessa) – 3rd in Zone 6, the huge Ukrainian group.
Bukovina (Chernovtzi) won this championship.
Neftyanik (Fergana) won the mysterious Asian group made from team from the Muslim republics.
Zone 8 – even further East than Zone 7 and traditionally the weakest of all zones, was won by Traktor (Pavlodar).
And Torpedo (Kutaisi) won Zone 9.
The promotion tournament was the same as ever: 9 winners divided into 3 groups and the group winners went up. The Perestroika opened mouths somewhat and the general comment on this tournament was about what was going on for a long time, including this year: it was not football, but bribes, complaints, rumors, scandals. The referees were the center of attention for good and bad – and, ‘as ever’, the participating clubs tried dirty tricks. They tried to get ‘the right’ referees and ‘help’ from the administration (Torpedo Kutaisi), tried to bribe players of the opposition (Nistru, Neftyanik), openly blamed referees and tried to provoke fans to misbehave (Neftyanik), practically all teams tried to organize very hostile atmosphere for the visiting teams, including threats. It was all ‘normal’, though – nobody was punished, nobody investigated anything, rumors multiplied, some true, some not. How much was achieved on the pitch and how much by backroom schemes would be anybody’s guess. There were winners at the end of the schedule.
Final Group A: Irtysh (Omsk) lost all their games and was last with 0 points. Neftyanik (Fergana) ended 2nd 5 points.

03.04.2016 , 0:22:04
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Nistru (Kishinev) won the tournament with 7 points. Standing from left: Pivtzov, Tropanetz, Vassiliev, Rolevich, Fink, Savelliev, Slavinsky.
Middle row: Chistov, Kapatzina, Goyan – administrator, Soltan – team chief, Aleskerov – coach, Tzinkler – assistant coach, Losenko – doctor, Flentya, Botnerash.
Front row: Savchenko, Shulaev, Kuznetzov, Protzenko, Safronenko, Syrbu, Pavlov, Sirotyuk.
Final Group B: Traktor (Pavlodar) – last with 3 points. Cement (Novorossiysk) – 2nd with 4 points. Torpedo (Kutaisi) – group winners with 5 points.
Final Group C: Uralmash (Sverdlovsk) – last with 0 points.
Bukovina (Chernovtzi) – very unfortunate: 2nd with 6 points and missing promotion on worse goal-difference (6-4).
Fakel (Voronezh) won the group on better goal-difference – 6 points too, but 9-2 goal-difference.
The three winners of promotion had one thing in common: they were all former members of First Division and also spent many years in Second Division.

Italy the Cup

The Cup. Sampdoria and Torino reached the final. Naturally, dramatic final – both clubs eager to win the trophy. Sampdoria because they had very little so far, Torino – to keep themselves among the leading Italian clubs. Hard to predict final, but Sampdoria had the edge for they were rapidly ascending. Eventually, they prevailed, but with great difficulties: won the home leg 2-0, but lost in Torino with the same result. Only in the extra-time they prevailed, finally scoring a goal.

The great joy of the new Cup winners.

Torino lost to the grief of its supporters, because they lost at home. Lost by little and may be rightly so, for Sampdoria had stronger team, but no trophy is a tragedy. Little things are vitally important sometimes – Torino was a bit weaker than Sampdoria and lost the Cup, then they lost the play-off for UEFA spot to Juventus – again dramatically and by very little, but no Europe. And that small losses perhaps contributed quite a lot to the troubles Torino already had, namely, rather precarious financial situation. But that means nothing on the field – Torino had a good team, but not excellent team and that was the prime reason for the lost final. They did their best, nobody can blame them… except their disappointed fans.
Sampdoria won its 2nd Cup, thus doubling the number of trophies they won so far. Not much, but the club was having great period at last and started winning. Great coach and well mixed squad of old stars and bright youngsters. Wonderful success, no matter how difficult the final.