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Best Eastern European football clubs – greatest & most successful



Eastern European football clubs are some of the most potent forces in European football from the 1950s to date.


Football in the region is more of a tradition than just an ordinary sport. The area has produced some of the best football clubs that have consistently competed at the highest level in Europe.


Over the years, top clubs from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland have been able to compete with other top teams to rank higher on the UEFA coefficient.


What soccer teams are in Eastern Europe? Top soccer teams in Eastern Europe are Zenit Saint Petersburg, Dynamo Kyiv, Shakhtar Donetsk, Slovan Bratislava, CSKA Moscow, Sparta Prague, Red Star Belgrade, etc.


So what’s Eastern Europe about, and what makes it unique? The region in lies between Western Europe and the Asian continent.



The region is also blessed with superb geographical features such as mountains, lakes, seas, etc.


The region is home to several indigenous people who live in Europe and some areas of Asia.


Football doesn’t rotate around England, Spain, Germany, France or Portugal alone as there are countries like Russia, Ukraine, Poland where other more vital forces also exist.


The countries in the region are Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Croatia, and Ukraine.


So how’s football in the region? The sport has major competition owing to the different weather conditions of the areas which support winter sporting events such as Ice hockey, alpine skiing, etc.


Nevertheless, football remains the number one sport in the region.

Who are the best football clubs in the region? How are these teams ranked, and who’s the most successful?


Interesting Football digs deep to find the best football clubs representing the region in the continent.


Our ranking criteria

  • Performance domestically
  • Performance in Europe
  • Performance historically
  • Performance most recently


Ranking the top 10 best Eastern European football clubs


1. Zenit Saint Petersburg


The Russian giants are the biggest football club in Eastern Europe as things stand.


Based in Saint Petersburg, Zenith grew to become one of the most loved teams in the 21st century following its Europa League and UEFA Super Cup win in 2008.


Owned and sponsored by Russian and European energy giants Gazprom, the club have been consistent in all competitions, including European engagement.


Today, it maintains the level of a grade club in Europe, having some well-known players the continent has to offer.


Interestingly players like Axel Witsel, Dejan Lovren, Claudio Marchisio, Branislav Ivanović, Ezequiel Garay, Hulk, Salomón Rondón and other notable names played for the club.


Promoting homegrown talents and managing foreigners, Dutch manager Dick Advocaat successfully won the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup with the club.


In the 2008 UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United, Portuguese sensation Danny had a five-star performance, scoring the second goal for Zenit.


Domestically, Zenit is behind Spartak Moscow in most league titles won. The Saint Petersburg based team have won eight league titles.


Trophies and Achievements



Russian Premier League 

Founded in 1925, the club lifted its first league title 49 years later, in 1984.

However, the club could not continue from 1984 successful as it took another 13 years in 2007 for a second league title when Dick Advocaat was appointed manager.


The Dutch manager brought stability to the club. He was able to build a strong team and charge the confidence in his players ahead of the continental engagement the following year.


He won the Premier League and the Russian Super Cup.

Zenit Saint Petersburg have won eight league titles, with the majority lifted in the 21st century.


Russian Cup

Zenit’s first significant silverware was the Russian Cup, known as the Soviet Cup, in 1944. The Blue-White-Sky Blues have won five Russian Cup titles.


Russian Super Cup

Advocaat was the first to lift the Russian Super Cup with the club in 2008.


Zenit has won seven Russian Super Cups, including back-to-back wins in 2020 and 2021.



Zenit won the European double in 2008 under the guidance of Dick Advocaat, who led the club to success in the UEFA Europa League and edged European powerhouse Manchester United to the Super Cup title.


The manager had a fearless team with some notable names in football like Aleksandr Anyukov, Andrey Arshavin, Fatih Tekke, Igor Denisov and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk.


2. FC Shakhtar Donetsk


The Miners are currently the most successful Ukrainian soccer team, closely followed by Dynamo Kyiv.


Domestically and on the European scene, Shakhtar have remained consistent even though the competition from the big leagues have increased.


Shakhtar Donetsk uses a blend of Ukrainian with some South American players to compete with the rest of Europe and has been successful at it.


With a high number of homegrown players, the club has been able to challenge for honours along with the big European superpowers.


Also, players from some South American countries like Brazil, Argentina make up the rest of the squad.


After the country became an independent state, Shakhtar Donetsk became the first team to lift the UEFA Cup in 2009 before being renamed UEFA Europa League.


Since the clubs entered the European scene in 1976, variable amounts of success have been recorded.


Shakhtar entered the Champions League in 2000 and have consistently qualified for the group stages as well as reaching the knockout stages.


The domestic scene has been made or broken between Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv.


The ‘Moles’ have won numerous domestic trophies like the Ukrainian Premier League, Ukrainian Cup, and Ukrainian Super Cup.


Despite these achievements, Dynamo Kyiv led as record winners of the League, tied with the same number of wins in the Cup and Super Cup.


In European competitions, Shakhtar Donetsk has surpassed Dynamo Kyiv and is currently ranked in the top 20 UEFA club coefficients.


Today, Shakhtar Donetsk is one of Ukraine’s most famous football clubs and is currently one of the bases of the Ukrainian national football team.


Trophies and Achievements



Ukrainian Premier League

The Ukrainian Premier League was formed in 1991 following the disbandment of the Soviet League.


The Miners are 13time league winners with the club’s first title in the 2001–02 season even though Shakhtar had won the old Soviet League.


Shakhtar began to dominate the league from the 2004-05 season until today, along with Dinamo Kyiv.


The ‘Moles’ won the league title in five consecutive seasons from 2010 to 2014 with a second four straight wins from 2017 to 2020.


Since the league’s formation in Ukraine, Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk have singlehandedly won almost every title leaving Tavriya Simferopol with just one title in 1992.


Ukrainian Cup

Thirteen Cup titles have gone the way of the Miners, who are currently tied on the same number of titles with rivals Dynamo Kyiv.


Shakhtar lifted its first Cup title in 1994–95 and 2018–19.


Ukrainian Super Cup

Nine Super Cup crowns is not an easy feat, but Shakhtar Donetsk has continued to go toe to toe with Dynamo Kyiv.


The ‘Miners’ won the Super Cup four consecutive seasons in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.



Shakhtar became the first Ukrainian soccer team to win a major European trophy after independence.


An impressive outing saw the ‘Miners’ claim the UEFA Europa League against German soccer giants SV Werder Bremen.


Shakhtar claimed the title thanks to the Brazilian duo of Luiz Adriano and Jádson, who provided two goals to help the side edge the German side after extra time.


In the UEFA Super Cup, the club fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat against European giants FC Barcelona in the Stade Louis II in Monaco with goals from Pedro and Lionel Messi’s man of the match performance.


From that era, Shakhtar Donetsk has been consistent ever since and increased Ukrainian representatives in the Champions League.


As of 2021, Ukraine has two representatives actively participating in the UEFA Champions League group stages.


3. Dynamo Kyiv


Domestically, Dynamo Kyiv prides itself as Ukraine’s most successful team in the league, having won more titles than any other side.


Although Shakhtar and Dynamo Kyiv are tied on the same number of wins in the Ukrainian Cup and Super Cup, the lead still exists in the league as Dynamo lead by sixteen titles compared with Shakhtar Donetsk thirteen titles.


To date, Kyiv remains one of the club’s that have never been relegated to a lower division.


The club’s most successful periods were in 1975 and 1986, and 1975 when Valeriy Lobanovskyi led the club to two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.


Since the beginning of the 21st century, the club’s success has been in the domestic scene, unlike Shakhtar Donetsk, who had won the UEFA Europa League in 2009.


But despite no European trophy in the current era, Dynamo Kyiv consistency has led to the rise of Ukraine’s Champions League quota.


It might also interest you to know that the 2009 UEFA Europa League semifinals were an all Ukrainian affair that went the way of Shakhtar Donetsk, who eventually became champions.


Trophies and Achievements

Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk have been the two dominant forces in the Ukraine Premier League since its formation in 1991.



Dynamo is the record winner of the Ukrainian Premier League with sixteen titles with three wins better than rivals Shakhtar.


The club’s initial success was in the old Soviet League, where it won over 13 titles.


In the new era, the last nine editions after the first season in 1991 were claimed by Dynamo. The club won the league with ten record-high wins from 1992–93 until 2000–01.


The beginning of the 21st century saw rivals Shakhtar Donetsk rise in the league and European competitions.


The club’s most recent league success was in the 2020–21 season.


Ukrainian Cup


Dynamo is tied on the same number of titles in the Cup with Shakhtar Donetsk on 13.


Ukrainian Super Cup

The two teams also share the same number of titles in the Super Cup, with nine wins each.



Dynamo Kyiv conquered Europe twice in 1974–75, 1985–86 with two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup wins and one UEFA Super Cup in 1975.


In 2009, it was an all Ukrainian semi-final where Dynamo Kyiv lost to the superior powers of Shakhtar Donetsk, who went on to become the first Ukrainian team in history post-independence to lift a European trophy.


4. PFC CSKA Moscow


What’s the meaning of PFC, and what does CSKA stand for?


PFC stands for Professional Football Club, and CSKA is the Central Sports Club of the Army in Russia, also used in other central European countries like Bulgaria.


CSKA Moscow is another Russian football giant powered by the nation’s military and the main reason why the club is often referred to as the Army club of Russia. But, at the moment, it is owned by a private firm.


That being said, CSKA is one of the most successful teams in Eastern Europe, having won major domestic and continental trophies.


Founded in 1911, CSKA Moscow is one of the oldest football clubs in Russia, powered by the Soviet Army during the columnist era.


About forty years after it was established, the club became a significant force, amassing over 7 Soviet Top League championships and 5 Soviet Cups.


Just as Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine, CSKA Moscow became the first Russian club to win a major European trophy following a five-star performance which saw Portuguese giants Sporting CP fall in the UEFA Europa League final in 2005.


To date, the club remains Russian and European giants.


In the 21st century, notable names like Igor Akinfeev, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Golovin, Nikola Vlašić, Ivica Olić, Roman Eremenko, Mário Fernandes, Vágner Love, Seydou Doumbia, Keisuke Honda, Ahmed Musa, Chidi Odiah have represented the team.


Trophies and Achievements

Although the club recorded success in the old Soviet League, the new Russian Premier League is not an exemption with six titles already in the club’s trophy cabinet.


Russian Premier League

With thirteen national league titles, including the Old Soviet League, the Army club has won six in the new era and are behind Zenit Saint Petersburg and Spartak Moscow.


CSKA Moscow won the Russian Premier League back to back twice in (2005, 2006 and 2012–13, 2013–14).


The club’s most recent success was in the 2015–16 season.


Russian Cup

The Army club claimed twelve Russian Cup titles, including the Old Soviet Cup.


The club dominated the domestic knockout cup competition from 2001–02 until 2012–13 and won six titles.


Leonid Slutsky, Valery Gazzaev, Artur Jorge, Pavel Sadyrin were notable coaches who led the club to victory from the 2000s until 2016.


Russian Super Cup

The Army club holds a shared record in the Russian Super Cup with seven titles.



In 2005 led by Russian coach Valery Gazzaev, CSKA Moscow won the UEFA Cup or Europa League, having big names Yuri Zhirkov, Vágner Love and Daniel Carvalho.


It was just a moment for CSKA Moscow, who came from behind to outclass the Portuguese side Sporting CP thanks to goals from Berezutskiy, Zhirkov and Vágner Love to become the first Russian side to lift the title.


Coach Valery Gazzaev had his work cut out, facing a significant threat in Sporting Clube de Portugal.


He started his best eleven, featuring big names like Igor Akinfeev, Vasili Berezutski, Sergei Ignashevich, Daniel Carvalho, Ivica Olić and Vágner Love.


In the UEFA Super Cup, Liverpool’s attacking lineup, which had top names like Luis García and Fernando Morientes, was too much to handle as the Russians fell to the storm of Monaco.


5. Fotbal Club FCSB


Probably you’ll have heard of the acronym FCSB which stands for FC Steaua București.


SC Fotbal Club FCSB SA is a Romanian professional football club based in the country’s capital Bucharest and competes with Liga I, Romania’s top tier.


Initially, the club was known as FC Steaua București but had been changed to FC FCSB since early 2017 following a significant change in the club’s history.


FCSB is one of the most successful teams in the history of Romania, even though the majority of the trophies have been disputed amid UEFA and LPF recognition in 2018.


Trophies and Achievements


FC Steaua București, now FCSB SA, is one of the most successful teams in Romania, having won a record number of league, cup and super cup titles.



Romania Liga I / Divizia A

The club has won record 26 league titles from 1951 and 2014–15.

Cupa României

The club boasts a record of 24 Cup titles.

Supercopa României

FCSB also leads with record six Super Cup titles.


The club emerged Champions of Europe in 1985–86 following success in the European Cup and European Super Cup.


The same year, the club got to the finals of the Intercontinental Cup but lost to Argentine giants Clube Atlético River Plate.


6. Spartak Moscow

Spartak Moscow is a Russian professional football club based in Moscow and competes in the Russian Premier League.


Spartak were the early vibrant teams in Russia from the Soviet till the new era of football in the country.


Having won ten Premier League titles, three Russian Cups and one Super Cup, it is one of the most successful in the country domestically.

The club had emerged as one of the most successful during the old Soviet League era.


Internationally, Zenit Saint Petersburg and CSKA Moscow are the most successful teams.


Despite European silverware in its cabinet, the club still has a unique record on the continent, reaching the semifinals of all three major competitions.


Trophies and Achievements



Russian Premier League

Spartak Moscow is the most successful club in the new Premier League era with ten titles.


The club had won twelve league titles during the Soviet League era, which brings the total number of titles to twenty-two.


Russian Cup

Spartak Moscow has won over 13 national cup titles, including ten in the Soviet era and three headers in the new Russian Cup.


Russian Super Cup

‘The People’s Team’ claimed one Russian Super Cup title in 2017.



Spartak Moscow reached the semifinals of the Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League.


7. Red Star Belgrade


Red Star Belgrade or FK Crvena Zvezda is a Serbian professional football club based in Belgrade and competes in the Serbian SuperLiga.


As one of the major forces in the region, Red Star defeated the French side Olympique de Marseille to claim the 1990–91 European Cup.


Today, the club is the most successful in Serbia, having won seven Serbian SuperLiga titles, four Serbian Cup and one European Cup / Champions League title.


Trophies and Achievements



During the Yugoslav Republic era, the club won a record 19 Yugoslav First League, a record 12 Yugoslav Cup, and two Yugoslav Super Cups.


Also, in the Serbia and Montenegro era, Red Star Belgium won the First League of Serbia and Montenegro five times and a record nine Serbia and Montenegro Cup.


Red Star Belgrade won the European Cup in 1991 following a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Olympique de Marseille. The same year, the club also lifted the Intercontinental Cup.


8. GNK Dinamo Zagreb 

GNK Dinamo Zagreb is a Croatian professional football club based in Zagreb and competes in the Prva HNL.


Dinamo Zagreb is the most successful football club in Croatia, having won twenty-two league titles, sixteen Croatian Cups and six Croatian Super Cups.


In the 1966–67 season, Dinamo became the only Croatian club to win a European trophy, following a successful outing in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.


9. ŠK Slovan Bratislava

Founded as 1. ČsŠK Bratislava in 1919, Slovan Bratislava is the most successful football club in Slovakia, having won most titles in the domestic league and national cup.


The club initially had a remarkable achievement during the Czechoslovakia era, winning eight league titles and five Cup titles.


From 1939 when the new Slovakian league was established, Bratislava quickly established itself as a significant force in the division.


The club currently leads the all-time winners’ chart with fifteen titles.


In the Slovakian Cup established in 1961, Sky blues have won 15 titles.


On the European scene, the club won European the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1968–69 by beating Barcelona in the final.


10. Sparta Prague


Athletic Club Sparta Praha Fotbal is a Czech professional football club based in Prague and competes in Czech First League.

Interesting Articles


Nicknamed the ‘Iron Sparta’ or ‘The Maroons’ is the country’s most successful football club in history and one of the most successful in the region.


Sparta Prague has won a record 36 domestic league titles, 27 Czech Cup, and two Czech Supercup.


Worthy mentions

  • Górnik Zabrze
  • Ferencváros
  • Budapest Honvéd FC
  • FC Dinamo București
  • FC Dynamo Moscow
  • CSKA Sofia, 
  • HNK Hajduk Split

Eastern Europe currently houses some of the biggest football clubs in the world like Zenit Saint Petersburg, CSKA Moscow, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kyiv, etc

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.

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