Monday, January 5, 2015

Paraguay Greatest All-time team

Paraguay 1998
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Paraguay won the Copa America in 1953 and 1979.  They went to the World Cup Final in 1930, 1950 and 1958, but they did not make a dent in the Finals.  In 1986, the Albirroja reached the second round of Mexico 1986.  They qualified for the Summer Olympics in 1992, where the code of the team became a Golden Generation. They qualified for France 1998 and reached the second round at the Finals. However, they were eliminated by eventual champion and host France with a golden goal at the 114th minute.  That team was known for its strong defense. They would qualify for the next three World Cup Finals.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.
Copa America winner 1979

GK:  Jose Luis Chilavert
Known for his free kicks,  Jose Luis Chilavert was an icon of his generation.  He was South American Player of the Year in 1996. Against Argentina in a WCQ in 1997, he promised to score a goal before the match and he did score one.  He led Paraguay to the round of 16 at both WC Finals in 1998 and 2002.  He won 12 club titles, including the 1994 Copa Libertadores and the 1994 Intercontinental Cup, whilst playing for Vélez Sarsfield.
GK: Roberto Fernández
Roberto Fernández was also a member of the Paraguayan team that won the 1979 Copa América. During the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Fernández started for Paraguay in all four games. He stopped a penalty kick from Mexican Hugo Sánchez to hold the host team to a 1-1 draw.  He earned the nickname "El Gato" (The Cat) for his outstanding stretching saves. His son is also named Robert Fernandez and has capped by Paraguay as a keeper.

GK: Ever Hugo Almeida
Ever Hugo Almeida was born in Salto, Uruguay, but became a naturalized Paraguayan in 1975.  Played with Olimpia for nearly two decades, setting a record for being the player with most appearances in the Copa Libertadores with 113, from 1973 to 1990, winning the tournament on two occasions (1979 and 1990). 

RB: Francisco Arce
Francisco Arce was a part of the great defensive unit of Paraguay in 1998 and 2002.  Arce started his career in Paraguay playing for Cerro Porteño, where he won the national championship on three occasions. He then moved to Brazil where he played for big clubs such as Grêmio and Palmeiras. He won the Copa Libertadores in 1995 with Gremio, but he spent much of his career with Palmeiras. He also played for Gamba Osaka in Japan.
Francisco Arce
RB: Juan Torales
Juan Torales was capped 77 times. He played for the Paraguayan squad that won the 1979 Copa America. Torales made his professional debut for Sportivo Luqueño in 1976. He joined Libertad in 1981 and played for the club until 1991. He spent the 1992 season with Club Guaraní before returning to Sportivo Luqueño, where he played until his retirement from football in 1995 at the age of 39.
CB: Juan Lezcano
Juan Lezcano was a member of the historical Olimpia team that won five Paraguayan league championships in a row, from 1956 to 1960 and reached the final of the Copa Libertadores in 1960, where Olimpia lost against Peñarol. Soon after in 1961, Peñarol signed him and became one of the key players of the that helped Peñarol win several national and international championships. 

CB:  Carlos Gamarra
Carlos Gamarra was widely considered a top defender in South America during his peak years.  He played in Paraguay, Brazil, Greece, Italy and Portugal. He is the most capped player in Paraguayan football history. He was named as the Paraguayan Footballer of the Year in 1997 and 1998, and was also included in the 1998 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament.  He also went to World Cup Finals in 2002 and 2006.  He won a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Carlos Garmarra
CB: Rogelio Delgado 
Rogelio Delgado played for Olimpia, where he won the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup in 1979, and six Paraguayan league titles.  He also played for Independiente of Argentina and Universidad de Chile.  He had 53 caps between 1983 and 1990.  He was a member of the Albirroja at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

CB: Celso Ayala
Celso Ayala was a part of the great defensive unit of the Paraguayan national team during the 1990's.  He was capped 86 times and was among the most capped players for his country. For club football, he played in Spain, Brazil, Argentina and of course, Paraguay.  He was known for his spell with Club Olimpia and two spells with River Plate.  He won Copa Libertadores for both clubs. 

CB: Heriberto Herrera
Heriberto Herrera helped the Albirroja to win the 1953 Copa America and was named the best player of the tournament. He had 5 caps for Paraguay and later played one game for the Spain national football team in 1957 after he moved to play in La Liga. He played with Club Nacional at home and then, with Atletico Madrid between 1952 and 1959.  

Rivarola started his club career with Cerro Porteño in 1985 and  joined Talleres de Córdoba in Argentina. In 1995, he moved to Brazil where he was part of the Grêmio team that won several titles including the Recopa Sudamericana in 1995, in 1999 he played for Palmeiras in the season that they won the Copa Libertadores. He spent 2000 with América-RJ before returning to Paraguay in 2001 to play for Libertad. He was a member of the great defensive unit of Paraguay in the 1990's.
Catalino Rivarola
DM: Modesto Bría
Born in 1922, Modesto Bría began his career with Nacional in 1940.  In 1943, Ary Barroso brought him to Brazil.  He played for Flamengo in between 1943 to 1953. He won three Campeonato Carioca with them: 1943, 1944 and 1953, and three Torneio Início do Campeonato Carioca: 1946, 1951 and 1952. He later managed the club.

CM: Hugo Talavera
At the national team level, Talavera was part of the Paraguay squad that won the 1979 Copa América tournament.  For his club career, he won three national championships in a row with Cerro Porteño before joining Olimpia in 1975.  He won the Copa Libertadores in 1979 and 7 more league titles with them. He also played for the Argentine club Newell's Old Boys.

CM: Manuel Fleitas Solich
Manuel Fleitas Solich was known as "El Brujo" (the Wizard). He began his career with Club Nacional Asunción.  He played for them between 1918 and 1926 before heading to play in Argentina.  He was remembered with his career with Boca Juniors in Argentina between 1927 and 1930.  He was the team's captain as they won the league title in 1930.  He also played for Racing Club, Platense and Talleres (RE) in Argentina. He had 32 caps between 1919 and 1926.
Manuel Fleitas Solich
AM: Saturnino Arrúa
Arrúa made his senior debuts at the age of only 14, with local Sportivo Iteño. He was signed shortly after by Cerro Porteño. He was crowned the league's top scorer on three occasions and won 4 league titles with Cerro Porteño before he joined Real Zaragoza in 1974.  He spent 6 seasons there.  For his international career, he was capped 27 times between 1969 and 1980.

AM: Julio Cesar Romero
Julio Cesar Romero was considered one of the best outfielders in Paraguay's history.  He also had careers in Paraguay, the USA, Spain, Mexico, Chile and Brazil.  His two most famous stints were with NY Cosmos and Fluminense.  He was a big idol with the Brazilian club. He also played in Spain with Barcelona FC. He led Paraguay to win the Copa America in 1979 and to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 1986.  He was selected as the South American Footballer of the Year in 1985. 
Julio Cesar Romero

FW/RW:  Luis Vargas Pena
Luis Vargas Pena was one of the greatest Paraguayan footballers before the War.  He was the first Paraguayan to score a goal for the Paraguay national football team in a FIFA World Cup, accomplishing that in a match valid for the group stage of the 1930 FIFA World Cup against Belgium, played on 10 July. Vargas Peña also had the honour of being the first captain for Paraguay in a World Cup.
ST: Aurelio González
Aurelio González is one of the greatest football players of Paraguay, considered by many as the second best player behind Arsenio Erico. He started his career with Sportivo Luqueño and then moved to Olimpia of Asunción where he spent the rest of his career winning several championships, most notably the three consecutive national championships in 1927, 1928 and 1929.

ST: Delfín Benítez
Delfín Benítez's career began with Libertad. He joined Boca Juniors in 1932, where he would score 107 goals, making him the fifth all-time top scorer in Boca Juniors' history. Boca fans consider Benítez as one of  the best foreign player to play for them.   He also played for Racing Club and Ferro Carril Oeste. He had 15 caps for Paraguay between 1929 and 1933 and a single cap for Argentina in 1934.  He went to the 1930 World Cup Finals, appearing against Belgium and the United States.
Delfín Benítez
ST: Eulogio Martínez
He started his career with Club Libertad before moving to Barcelona FC in 1956.  He led the team in scoring in three seasons (1956–57, 1957–58, 1959–60), obtaining two Spanish League titles, two Copas del Rey and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups. Martínez also became a part of FC Barcelona's history by scoring the first goal ever at their current stadium, Camp Nou, in 24 September 1957.

ST:  Cayetano Ré
Ré began his career in Asunción, playing for clubs like Cerro Porteño and Club Guaraní before signing for Spanish side Elche CF in 1959. From 1959 to 1972, he played in Spain, notably for his three seasons with Barcelona and another 3 with Espanyol. He won the Pichichi award for the season 1964-1965.  He went to the 1958 WC finals in Sweden.
ST  Delfin Benitez Caseres
For his club career, Benítez started his career in Libertad of his native country. He was better remembered for his 7 seasons with Boca Junior.  He is widely considered to be the best ever foreign player in Argentina. He was the Argentine Primera División top scorer in 1940. Delfin Benitez Caseres played in the 1930 World Cup Finals.  He also played once for Argentina in 1934.

ST: Arsenio Erico
Arsenio Erico is considered the best Paraguayan footballer of all time and one of the greatest ever to play in the Argentinian league..  He started his club career with Club Nacional of Paraguay in 1930, but better known for his career in Argentina. He is the all-time highest goalscorer in the Argentine first division, with 295 goals, all of them scored with Independiente between 1933 and 1946. He also played for Huracán. He was Alfredo Di Stefano's idol.
Arsenio Erico
Honorable Mention
Osvaldo Aquino, José Cardozo, Roberto Acuna, Carlos Diarte, Roberto Cabañas, Sinforiano García, Francisco Reyes, Carlos Humberto Paredes, Roque Santa Cruz.

Squad Explanation
-- Jose Chilavert, Carlos Gamarra, Arsenio Erico and Julio Cesar Romero are automatic selections. Arsenio Erico is the greatest Paraguayan footballer of all-time.  No explanation is needed.
-- Sinforiano García  seemed to be a forgotten man in history too.  From 1949 to 1958, he played for Flamengo in Brazil. I do not see his name mentioned much. Francisco Reyes was also a star with Flamingo, but he is an unforgotten man in Paraguay.
-- Jose Chilavert, Franisco Arce, Carlos Gamarra, Celso Ayala and  Catalino Rivarola formed the great defensive unit during the late 1990's.  In the 1998 World Finals, they played to Bulgaria and Spain to goalless draw and held France until losing by a single goal in extra time. They all made my all-time team and none of the offensive or midfield player from 1998 made my team.
- I do not know if Jose Luis Chilavert (Paraguay) is the greatest keeper of all-time for this blog, but his flamboyant style created an image of being the greatest.
-- Carlos Gamarra was highly rated in South America. His club career in Europe was not as good as his reputation in South America. In South America, he was considered to be one of the best in the world during his playing days.
-- Heriberto Herrera played for Atletico Madrid between 1952 to 1959.  He later played for Spain once.
-- Certainly playing for Bayern Munich helped Roque Santa Cruz's case. He was very famous during his prime, but injuries prevented him for becoming a big star.  José Cardozo was the opposite of Roque Santa Cruz.  He might have a higher chance if he played in a bigger league than Mexico. Both only made honourable mention.
-- Delfín Benítez was a legend with Boca Junior in the 1930's when Argentine domestic football was the best in South America. 
-- From the 1986 World Cup team, Roberto Fernández, Juan Torales, Julio Cesar Romero and Rogelio Delgado made this all-time team, but I could only name Roberto Cabañas to honourable mention. Julio Cesar Romero is the South American Footballer of the Year in 1985. 
-- Osvaldo Aquino won the Copa America and Copa Libertadores in 1979, but I could not find space for him.
-- Carlos Diarte lost out to other all-time greats.  He played for Real Zaragoza, where he was part of the famous "Zaraguayos" group (a reference to the Paraguayan stars were playing for Zaragoza at that time).  He is becoming a forgotten man in football.
-- Attila Sallustro never played for Paraguay.  He was capped to Italy. He is ineligible.

Starting Lineup
Formation 4-2-1-3
The defense is made up mainly from players in the late 1990's.

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