Monday, January 5, 2015

Paraguay Greatest All-time team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of  was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

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

South America without Brazil and Argentina.

The nickname of Paraguay national team is the Albirroja, or red and white. Soon after the introduction of football in Paraguay by Williams Paats, the Liga Paraguaya de Futbol (today Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol) was created in 1906. The first national football team was organized in 1910 when an invitation by the Argentine club Hércules of Corrientes was received to play a friendly match. 

Paraguay won the Copa America in 1953 and 1979.  They also made it to the final of the 2011 Copa América, where Paraguay finished as runners-up. 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 World Cup Qualifiers 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 World Cup 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.  He played for them between 1991 and 2000.
Jose Luis Chilavert
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: Justo Villar 
Villar started his career at Club Sol de América. In 2001, he moved to Club Libertad, where he made a name. Later, he played for Newell's Old Boys between 2004 and 2008. In the 2004 Apertura championship, he was considered as the Goalkeeper of the Year.  He won the 2004 Paraguayan Footballer of the Year award.  Then, he spent time with
Real Valladolid. He had 120 caps for Paraguay.  He had a starring role at the 2010 World Cup Finals.

CB/RB/LB: Denis Caniza 
Denis Caniza started his career in Olimpia of Paraguay in 1994. He also played in Lanús of Argentina, Santos Laguna, Atlas, Cruz Azul, Leon, and Irapuato of Mexico.  Caniza holds the distinction as the only Paraguayan footballer to be selected for 4 consecutive FIFA World Cup Finals, having been chosen in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.  He played 100 times for Paraguay.  

RB: Francisco Arce 
Francisco Arce was a part of the great defensive unit of Paraguay in 1998 and 2002.  Between 1995 and 2004, he had 61 caps for Paraguay. Arce started his club career in Paraguay playing for Cerro Porteño in 1989, 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
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.  He was an all-time with Paraguay with 26 caps.  He went to the 1958 World Cup Finals.

Paulo da Silva is Paraguay most-capped player of all time, earning over 100 caps between 2000 and 2017. He played at two World Cups and three Copa América tournaments, helping his country finish as runners-up in the 2011 Copa América. He played for many clubs all over the world.  He starred for Toluca in Mexico, and played briefly for Perugia, Venezia,  Lanús, Sunderland and Real Zaragoza.

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 from 1947 to 1952, and then, with Atletico Madrid in Spain between 1952 and 1959.  He later coached Juventus and Inter Milan.

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
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.

CM/DM/CB: Francisco Reyes
Born in Asunción, he started his career playing for Olimpia, winning the Primera División Paraguaya in 1962 and in 1965.  Reyes joined Brazilian club Flamengo in 1967, helped the club to win the Campeonato Carioca in 1972, and left at the end of 1973. He retired while defending Olimpia, winning the Paraguayan League in his last season, in 1975.  He won a Bola de Prata in 1970 at a time when Brazilian football was at its peak.

Nicknamed "El Toro (Bull)", Roberto Acuña was born in Argentina.  He started with Nacional.   He played with Argentinos Juniors, Club Atlético Independiente and Boca Juniors, before moving to Europe in 1997. He plauyed for  Zaragoza and Deportivo, appearing rarely for the latter club.  Acuña played 100 times for Paraguay between 1993 and 2010, representing the nation in three World Cups and four Copa América tournaments.  In 2001, he won the Paraguayan Footballer of the Year award.

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 for Paraguay between 1919 and 1926.  He played in 5 South American Championships in the 1920's.
Manuel Fleitas Solich
CM: Hugo Talavera
At the national team level, Hugo 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.  In 1979, he won every single titles for club and country.

AM: Saturnino Arrúa
Saturnino 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 forming a team that was known for ist Paraguayan connection.  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
Eulogio Martínez 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
Cayetano 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 while playing for Barcelona FC.  He went to the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden.  He had a total of 25 caps.
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.  he never played for Paraguay in an official game, but unknown number of unofficial games.
Arsenio Erico
Honorable Mention
Ever Hugo Almeida, Ricardo Tavarelli, Sinforiano García, Raimundo Aguilera, Adolfo Riquelme, José de La Cruz Benitez, Claudio Morel, Eligio Echagüe, Manuel Gavilan, César Zabala, Juan Lezcano, Rogelio Delgado, Julio César Cáceres, Gustavo Gómez, César Zabala, Fabián Balbuena, Modesto Bría, Ignacio Achúcarro, Edgar Barreto, Carlos Paredes, Cristian Rivero, Oscar Cardozo, Saturnino Arrúa, Osvaldo Aquino, José Cardozo, Salvador Cabañas, Miguel Almiron, Carlos Diarte, Roberto Cabañas,  Salvador Cabañas, Raimundo Aguilera, Estanislao Struway, Carlos Humberto Paredes, Roque Santa Cruz, Salvador Cabañas,  Angel Berni, Rubén Fernández, Florencio Amarilla.

Squad Explanation
-- Arsenio Erico is the greatest Paraguayan footballer of all-time.  He was followed by Jose Chilavert, Carlos Gamarra, Arsenio Erico and Julio Cesar Romero.  They are all automatic selections. 
-- In 1953, Paraguay won their first South American Championship, but Heriberto Herrera was the only player selected.  Five years later, they qualified for the World Cup Finals in Sweden.  Cayetano Re and Juan Lezcano were selected for this team, but Herrera did not go to that World Cup Finals.  By that point, he was capped by Spain in 1957.
South American Champion 1953
-- In 1979, Paraguay won their second Copa America.  I selected Roberto Fernández, Julio César Romero, Hugo Talavera and Juan Torales from that team.  Except Talavera, the players also went to the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico.
-- Paraguay qualified for the 1986 World Cup Finals after 28 yeras. 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.  He had a successful career with Fluminense FC.
-- Jose Chilavert, Franisco Arce, Carlos Gamarra and Celso Ayala formed the great defensive unit for Paraguay 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.  Roberto Acuña also came from that team.
-- IFFHS selected the following players as their All-Time Best XI for Paraguay.  They were José Luis Chilavert, Francisco Arce, Carlos Gamarra, Heriberto Herrera, Juan Torales, Manuel Fleitas Solich, Romerito (Julio César Romero), Aurelio González, Arsenio Erico, Eulogio Martínez and Delfín Benítez Cáceres.
-- GOLTV also had their own selection of All-Time Best XI.  They were José Luis Chilavert, Francisco Arce, Carlos Gamarra, Paulo da Silva, Manuel Gavilan, Roberto Acuna, Carlos Paredes, Cristian Riveros, Julio César Romero), Jose Cardozo, and Roque Santa Cruz. This selection was favoring the players from the 1990's onward, but they took Gavilan.  However, they omitted Arsenio Erico, Eulogio Martínez and Delfín Benítez Cáceres.  Five of their Best XI actually did not make this team.
-- I do not know if Jose Luis Chilavert (Paraguay) was the greatest South American goalkeeper of all-time, but his flamboyant style created an image of being the greatest ever.  Certainly, he is the greatest ever from Paraguay.  His free kicks turned him into the greatest goal scoring goalkeeper of all-time. 
-- In 2015, I selected Roberto Fernández and Ever Hugo Almeida, but I did not remembered the reasons.  Both of them played around the same time.  Fernández usually started ahead of Almeida in their time.
 -- I did not take Justo Villar in 2015 because his career had not finished.  In 2023, I reassessed  his career and decided to go for him instead of Almeida.  Villar had some moments that stayed in the minds of Paraguayan fans such as his save against Xabi Alonso's penalty in the 2010 World Cup Finals.  He is also the second most capped player for Paraguay.
Justo Villar 
-- 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).  He played 22 times for Paraguay between 1975 and 1985.
-- Adolfo Riquelme helped Paraguay to win the South American Championship in 1953.  He deserved some recognition.  Sinforiano García could be one of the three goalkeepers on this team.  From 1949 to 1958, he played for Flamengo in Brazil. I do not see his name mentioned much in 2015, but he seemed to got more information in 2023.  Raimundo Aguilera also spent some time with Valencia in Spain.  Ricardo Tavarelli's career overlapped with Jose Luis Chilavert and was overshadowed by him. He only played 31 times for Paraguay, but he was well-respected. José de La Cruz Benitez was an old-timer.  They all made honorable mentions.
-- Carlos Gamarra was highly rated in South America. His club career in Europe was not as good as his reputation in South America. The European-based fans did not rate him as much.  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, but that did not changed his status with this all-time team for Paraguay.  He was voted the best player in the 1953 South American Championship, where Paraguay won the tournament. It was an important milestone for Paraguay. Juan Lezcano was a legend with Olimpia and Peñarol.  Then, I could not drop Celso Ayala.  He was also a part of Paraguay's great defensive units in the 1990's.  His career in Europe did not stand out, but he was well-known for his career with River Plate. 
-- In 2021, I did a review of the team.  Paulo da Silva has became Paraguay's most-capped players.   So I decided to select 5 central defenders, plus Francisco Reyes to this team (see below). He was also the captain of the World Cup team in 2006 and 2010 as well as Paraguay finishing runner-up in 2011 Copa America.  He was mentioned frequently as one of Paraguay's greatest ever players. So it would be difficult to keep Rogelio Delgado who was selected on my 2015 team. 
Paulo da Silva
-- 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.
-- Julio César Cáceres helped Olimpia to win Copa Libertadores. He also stood out for River Plate and Boca Juniors. As of 2023, Gustavo Gómez was building a career that could challenge with a spot one day.  They are on my honorable mentions.
-- Francisco Arce was the obvious choice for  rightback.  The second rightback was more difficult.  So I took Denis Caniza who was ranked very high among defenders. He went to a record four World Cup Finals.  He could play both sides of fullbacks as well as a central defender.
-- Claudio Morel had a solid club career in Argentina.  Manuel Gavilan who was the maternal grandfather of Celso Ayala was probably a leftback or left midfielder. He helped Paraguay to finish second twice in the South American Championship while winning the 1953 edition.  But I was uncertain about him although GOLTV named him in their All-Time Best XI.  I have seen his name appearing in many places.  But I stayed with Juan Torales.  He was IFFHS and many peoples' choices for this position.  Basically, I had two many defenders on this team. So I had to drop Claudio Morel and Manuel Gavilan, and used Denis Caniza as the backup leftback.  I also came across a player named Eligio Echagüe.  He played in the 1950's. 
-- In 2015, I took Catalino Rivarola. 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 was a member of the great defensive unit of Paraguay in the 1990's.  
-- Manuel Fleitas Solich was a center-Half or a two way midfielder.  He became the first Paraguayan player to play abroad when he joined Boca Juniors.  He was the first player-manager in South America.  He was undisputed.
-- In 2015, I took Modesto Bría, but I studied other central/defensive midfielders in 2023.  Modesto Bría was an important player for Flamingo during his era, but he seemed to be a forgotten player elsewhere.  So I took Francisco Reyes over him.  In 1970, Reyes received the Bola de Prata from Placar magazine at a time when the Brazilian league was the best in the world. The information was unclear about this, but it was reported that he received the highest point total for the award among all players.  The Bola de Ouro, however, went to Pele that year. He was probably playing as a central defender in 1970. He was considered an important player in Flamingo's history.  One website ranked him number 20th Greatest player from the club behind Zico, Romario, Dejan Petković, Zinho, Tita, Leônidas, etc.
-- Both Carlos Paredes and Cristian Riveros were named on GOLTV's All-Time Best XI. Carlos Paredes earned a nickname the "Sir of the Midfield".  Cristian Riveros played 101 times for Paraguay.  I also looked into Edgar Barreto who had a long career in Italy.  Of the contemporary central/defensive midfielders, Roberto Acuña was probably the best.  Known as "Toro", he was a versatile and resistant midfielder.  He stood out at Deportivo de la Coruña in Spain.  He played in 3 World Cup Finals.  So in 2023, I decided to dropped Modesto Bria for him.  
Roberto Acuña 
-- 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.  The 1943 title was Flamengo's first ever title.
-- Ignacio Achúcarro was a legend with Sevilla.  He was at one point their foreign players who played the most games.  I seriously considered him as one of my central/defensive midfielders. In the end, I stayed with Roberto Acuña because Achúcarro was not mentioned much anywhere.  He was forgotten in Paraguay probably because he played mainly in Spain.
-- The central/defensive midfield section was one of the hardest decisions I had made.  
-- I selected Hugo Talavera who was the captain of 1979 Copa America winning team.  He also led Olimpia in winning the league, Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup. So that year, he won everything for both club and country. 
-- Saturnino 'Nino' ​​Arrúa was an idol of Cerro Porteño. He also shone in Real Zaragoza in Spain.  However, he only played 27 times for the national team.  Nevertheless, I still took him.
-- While with Fluminense, Julio César Romero was selected as the South American Footballer of the Year at a time when many top South American footballers still remained playing over there.  He was one of Paraguay's greatest players.
-- Osvaldo Aquino won the Copa America and Copa Libertadores in 1979, but I could not find space for him.  
-- I did not have many wingers to choose from.  So I took Luis Vargas Pena from the 1930's.  Delfin Benitez Caseres also played as a left wing forward, but he was mainly a striker.  He would be used wide left. 
-- Salvador Cabañas was ranked very high by many people.  He was a striker who could also play as a wing-forward, and this team needed more wide players.  But I still did not select him because his career was cut short by a shooting incident at the moment when he was ready to shrine at the 2010 World Cup Finals.  His career needed something more to justify a spot on this team.  He was one of the best players not selected.  Miguel Almiron who was an attack midfielder and a winger played well enough for Newcastle.  His transfer fees was believed a club record at the time.  At the time of writing, he is an active player and still needs time to build up his career for a serious consideration.
-- Arsenio Erico never played for Paraguay in an official game, but no one would doubt about his inclusion. Paraguay did not select foreign-based players during his prime.  His caps came from matches played under a Red Cross touring team. While playing club football in Argentina, he was offered to play for Argentina, but he refused.  He is the all-time highest goalscorer in the Argentine first division, with 295 goals.  
-- Aurelio González is one of the greatest football players of Paraguay, considered by many as the second best player behind Arsenio Erico.
-- Eulogio Martínez was part of Helenio Herrera 's successful Barcelona team with star players such as Ladislao Kubala , Luis Suárez and Sándor Kocsis.  He scored 111 goals for them.  Cayetano Ré also played for Barcelona where he won the Pichichi Trophy in the 1964-1965 season.  Delfín Benítez was a legend with Boca Junior in the 1930's when Argentine domestic football was the best in South America. 
 Eulogio Martínez
-- Attila Sallustro was born in Paraguay, but he never played for Paraguay.  He moved to Italy as a youngster.  He was capped to Italy. So he is ineligible for this team, but I do believe he belonged here if he did not play for Italy.
-- Certainly playing for Bayern Munich helped Roque Santa Cruz's case. Some people placed him as one of Paraguay's greatest ever players.  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 were rated highly in Paraguay, but they only made honourable mentions.
-- 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.  Their members included Saturnino Arrúa and Felipe Ocampos.


1 comment:

  1. chilavert
    arce herrera gamarra claudio-morel
    romero talavera solich salvador-cabañas
    raul-vicente-amarilla erico