Monday, January 5, 2015

Paraguay All-time 23 member 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.

GK:  Jose Luis Chilavert
Known for his free kicks, he 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
He 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
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
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.

RB: Juan Torales
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
He 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
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.
Carlos Garmarra

CB: Rogelio Delgado 
He 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.  He was a member of the Albirroja at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

CB: Celso Ayala
He 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 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
He began his career with Nacional.  He went to play for Flamengo in Brazil between 1943 to 1953. He won three Campeonato Carioca with them.

CM: Hugo Talavera
He won the 1979 Copa América with the national team.  For his club career, he won three national championships in a row with Cerro Porteño before joining Olimpia in 1975.  He won the Copa
Copa Libertadores in 1979 and 7 more league titles with them.

CM: Manuel Fleitas Solich
He began his career with Nacional.  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 hd 32 caps.
Manuel Fleitas Solich

AM: Saturnino Arrúa
Arrúa made his senior debuts at 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 4 league titles with Cerro Porteño before he joined Real Zaragoza in 1974.  He spent 6 seasons there.  He was capped 27 times between 1969 and 1980.

AM: Julio Cesar Romero
He was considered the best outfielder in Paraguay's history.  He earnjed 32 caps.  He led Paraguay to qualify for the WC in 1986.  He was South American Player of the Year in 1985. For domestic football, he played for many clubs, but his two most famous stints were with NY Cosmos and Fluminense.  He was a big idol with the Brazilian club.
Julio Cesar Romero

FW/RW:  Luis Vargas Pena
He was the captain of Paraguay at the 1930 WC Finals.  He also scored their first goal.  He was one of the greatest Paraguayan footballers before the War.
ST: Aurelio González
He 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 : Roque Santa Cruz
He is the all-time leading scorer for the Albirroja.  He spent 7 sesons with Bayern Munich before moving to England and Spain. He played at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup Finals, he also participated at the 1999 Copa América, 2007 Copa América and the 2011 Copa América, where Paraguay finished as the runners-up.
Roque Santa Cruz
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
He played in the 1930 World Cup Finals.  For his club career, he was best remembered for his 7 seasons with Boca Junior.  He is widely considered to be the best ever foreign player in Argentina.  He also played once for Argentina. 

ST: Arsenio Erico
Erico started his career in Club Nacional of Paraguay before going to play 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 is considered the best Paraguayan footballer of all time.  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, 

Squad Explanation
-- Sinforiano García  seemed to be a forgotten man in history too.  I do not see his name mentioned much. Francisco Reyes was also a star with Flemengo, 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.  They played to Bulgaria and Spain to goalless draw and held France until losing by a single goal in extra time.
-- Carlos Gamarra was highly rated in South America. His club career in Europe was not as good as his reputation in South America.
-- I chose Roque Santa Cruz over José Cardozo and Carlos Diarte, but I do have question mark about his inclusion.  Santa Cruz was very good in his early days with Bayern Munich, despite mainly used as a sub.  Later, injuries prevented him from becoming a bigger star.  His career seemed to be higher profile than the other two players. Certainly playing for a giant in Europe helped his case.
-- 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.
-- 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. He should be taken before Rique Santa Cruz.
-- Arsenio Erico is the greatest Paraguayan footballer of all-time.

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

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