Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cruzeiro Greatest All-time team

Copa Libertadores 1997

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

SantosFlamengoSao PauloCorithiansBotafogo
Vasco Da GamaPalmeirasInternacional
FluminenseGremioCruzeiroAtlético MineiroBahia.

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

The club was founded on January 2, 1921 by sportsmen from the Italian colony of Belo Horizonte, some members of Yale Atlético Clube and many Italian immigrant workers decided to create a new club called Societá Sportiva Palestra Italia. As a result of the Second World War, the Brazilian federal government banned the use of any symbols referring to the Axis powers in 1942. The club board members rebaptized the club with the name of a leading national symbol: the Cruzeiro do Sul's constellation. A Raposa also obtained many international laurels such as two Copa Libertadores, two Supercopa Libertadores, one Recopa Sudamericana, one Copa de Oro and one Copa Master de Supercopa. Cruzeiro is the only Brazilian and South American club to complete the Domestic Treble, a feat accomplished in 2003 after winning the Campeonato Mineiro, the 2003 Copa do Brasil and the 2003 Brasileirão.

Back-to-Back league titles: 2013, 2014
GK: Raul Plassman (Brazil)
Raul Plassman was the starting keeper for the great Flamengo team of the 1980's.  He played for them between 1978 and 1983, winning the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup in 1981.  His longest stint was with Cruzeiro, where he spent the prime of his career and won the Copa Libertadores in 1976.  At the international level, he was capped 17 times, but never went to the World Cup Finals.

GK: Fabio (Brazil)
With Vasco De Gama, Fabio won the Copa do Brasil, the Campeonato Brasileiro, and the Copa Mercosur all in 2000. He has also won two state championship, the Campeonato Carioca, and the Campeonato Mineiro.  From 2005 to 2018, he played for Cruzeiro, amassing over 700 games.  He was their captain furing both the 2013 and 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A winning campaigns. For Brazil, he played 3 times.  He was on the squad of Copa America 2004, but he did not play in the tournament.

GK: Dida (Brazil)
Dida is remembered for his 8 seasons with AC Milan.  He was the hero of the 2003 Champions' League Final when he helped Milan to win the penalty shootout against Juventus.  He became the first Brazilian goalkeeper to be nominated for Ballon d' Or that year.  At the international level, he was capped 91 times between 1995 and 2006. He went to three World Cup Finals.  He was the starting keeper in 2006 World Cup Finals for the Seleção.  

RB: Nelinho (Brazil)
Nelinho was considered one of the best right backs in Brazil's history.  He was capped 28 times by Brazil, and scored eight goals. He went to both 1974 and four 1978 World Cup Finals.  He scored one of the most stunning goals in World Cup history against Italy in 1978. For his clubs career, he played for many clubs, most notably Belo Horizonte rivals Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro.  With Cruzeiro, he won the Copa Liberatores in 1976.
CB: Roberto Perfumo (Argentina)
At club level, Roberto Perfumo played for Racing, River Plate and Brazilian team Cruzeiro. He was a legend with Racing Club in Argentina winning the Primera title, the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup.  He was considered their greatest player. For Argentina, he had 37 caps. He played in 1966 and 1974 World Cup Finals. 

CB: Luisão (Brazil)
Most of his professional career has been spent with Benfica, for which he has appeared in more than 500 official matches, having won 17 major titles. Luisão is the longest-serving captain in Benfica history.  Before moving to Europe, he played for Clube Atlético Juventus and Cruzeiro Esporte Clube.  Earned 44 caps.  He was on the team for WC Finals in 2006 and 2010.

CB/DM: Wilson Piazza (Brazil)
Wilson Piazza almost spent his entire career with Cruzeiro.  He was the greatest captain in the history of Cruzeiro. He helped the club to win the Copa Libertadores in 1976.    For the national team, he won 59 caps.  He was the starting centerback for the 1970 WC winning team.  He also went to the World Cup Finals in 1974.

CB: Cris (Brazil)
Cris has won the Ligue 1 with Lyon from 2005 to 2008, the Brazilian Championship in 1998 with Corinthians and in 2003 with Cruzeiro.  He also won the Copa do Brasil in 1995 with Corinthians and 2000 with Cruzeiro.  He also played for Galatasaray, Gremio and Vasco de Gama.  He played 17 times for Brazil.  He won the Copa América in 2004.  He was a member the World Cup team in 2006.
LB/LW: Juan Pablo Sorin (Argentina) 
Juan Pablo Sorin had a successful club career in his native Argentina with River Plate, in Brazil with Cruzeiro, and with various teams in Europe, including Barcelona, Lazio, Paris Saint-Germain and Villarreal. He won the Copa Libertadores in 1996 with River Plate.  He earned 76 caps and was the captain of Argentina national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

LB: Nonato (Brazil)
Nonato began as an amateur with Baraunas.  In February 1989, ABC bought his pass. In 1990, he was loaned to Pouso Alegre and competed in the Mineiro Championship. On January 10, 1991, Cruzeiro bought him from Pouso Alegre. When he arrived at the team he already had two fullbacks, Eduardo and Paulo César. He played  7 seasons with the club winning 14 titles.

DM: Ricardinho (Brazil)
From 1994 to 2002, Ricardinho won 15 titles with Cruzeiro, making him the most decorated player in the club's history. He was a part of their 1997 Copa Libertadores winning team.  He played in the Final against Sporting Cristal. He was awarded into the Bola de Uuro twice. From 2002 to 2006, he played in Japan mainly with Kashiwa Reysol.  he spent some time with Corinthians at the end of his career. He earned 3 caps between 1996 and 2001.
CM: Ze Carlos (Brazil)
Ze Carlos was a legend at Cruzeiro.  He played with Dirceu Lopes, Toastao and Piazza. He was the club's record appearance holder until 2015 when the record was broken by Fabio.  He won the Copa Libertadores in 1976. He was capped 4 times for the Brazilian National team.  He was a member of the 1975 Copa America team.

CM: Ademir Roque Kaefer (Brazil)
Ademir Roque Kaefer started his career with Toledo.  He transferred to the International, where he would win four Gaucho champions. With Cruzeiro, he won the Supercopa Sul-Americana in 1991.  With the Olympic team, he won two silver medals in 1984 and 1988. He also won Gold at the 1987 Pan-American Games.

RW: Natal (Brazil)
Natal was born in Belo Horizonte. He is known for having played for Cruzeiro, where he won five straight Campeonato Mineiros: 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, and for having played 14 times for the Brazilian national team, scoring three goals.  Natal made 89 appearances and scored 11 goals in the Campeonato Brasileiro.

LW: Bengala (Brazil)
Bengala's real name was Italo Fratezzi.  He arrived at the Palestra Italia, the former name of Cruzeiro in 1925. Bengala soon stood out for the club playing with the jersey 11 or the 10 through the midfielder. Bengal became the great idol for the fans along with his teammate Niginho and the Fantoni family. He played there until 1935.

AM/FW: Dirceu Lopes (Brazil)
Dirceu Lopes played mainly for Cruzeiro and was considered one of their best ever player.  He won the Copa Libertadores in 1976. He formed one of the best offensive duos with Tostao in Brazilian football.  He won Taça Brasil in 1966, beating Pele's Santos in the Final. He earned 19 caps for Brazil.  He was a part of Saldanha's plan for the World Cup Finals in 1970, but  he was dropped by Mário Zagallo, due to too many players to their position.
Dirceu Lopes
AM: Everton Ribeiro (Brazil)
Everton Ribeiro started his career with Corinthians, after a loan spell with São Caetano,  he was sold to Coritiba in 2011, winning the Campeonato Paranaense in both of his seasons. He also won Série A twice with Cruzeiro, being voted the best player of each season.  In 2014, hejoined Al-Ahli. A full international since 2014, Ribeiro represented Brazil at the 2015 Copa América.

AM: Alex (Brazil)
Alex has played for Coritiba, Palmeiras, Flamengo and Cruzeiro in Brazil, Parma in Serie A and Fenerbahçe in Turkey.  He made a name at Palmeiras winning the Copa Libertadores in 1999. With Cruzeiro, Alex won the Brazilian triple crown (State Championship, the Brasileirão and the Brazilian Cup).  He was capped 47 times.  He captained Brazil as they won the Copa America in 2007.

FW: Palhinha (Brazil)
Palhinha started his career in Cruzeiro in 1969 . In 1976, he was the top scorer of Copa Libertadores and helped the club to win the trophy for the first time. He also played for Corinthians, Atlético Mineiro, Santos FC, Vasco da Gama and América. Palhinha was capped 16 times from 1973 to 1979, including leading the national team to the second runners-up in Copa América 1979.

FW: Joãozinho (Brazil)
Joãozinho spent most of his career with Cruzeiro.  He was best remembered for the final of the Copa Libertadores in 1976, where Joãozinho scored winning goal against River Plate in the playoff. His nickname was the "Dancer" or "John Travolta" because he was known for his high speed dribbling. He played 482 games for Cruzerio and scored 116 goals. From 1975 to 1979, he played 4 times for Brazil. 
FW: Ninão (aka Fantoni I) (Brazil/Italy)
Ninão belonged to the famous Italian-Brazilian family of soccer players. His brothers Leonízio Fantoni (Niginho) and Orlando Fantoni and cousin Otávio Fantoni (Nininho) played for Palestra Italian(Cruzeiro's former name) before moving to  played for Lazio in Italy. João played for Palestra Italia, between 1923 and 1931 and between 1933 and 1938, He scored 167 times in 127 matches.

FW: Nininho (aka Fantoni II) (Brazil/Italy)
Nininho was a member of the Fantoni family who played Lazio in Italy and in Brazil.  Liked his brothers, he played for Palestra Italia before moving to Lazio in Italy.  In 1931, they were sold to Lazio, where they would be known by their surnames: Ninão was Fantoni I, Nininho was Fantoni II and him, Fantoni III. They played with another Italian-Brazilian player, Anfilogino Guarisi, in a Lazio squad known as "Brasilazio". 

FW: Niginho (aka Fantoni III) (Brazil/Italy)
Fantoni started his career with Cruzeiro(known as Palestra Itália) , playing with his brother Ninão and their cousin Nininho. They also played with Lazio in a team known as "Brasilazio" along with another Italian-Brazilian player, Anfilogino Guarisi.  He was called to the 1938 World Cup as a Leônidas da Silva stand-by player. Unfortunately, the Italians warned FIFA that Niginho was ineligible. 

ST: Tostao (Brazil)
Tostao was the starting forward of Brazil's 1970 WC Team. He was a false nine, providing assists for the rest of the team.  He nearly missed the World Cup Finals due to an eye injury.  He also went to England 1966.  He was South American Player of the Year in 1973.  He played 11 years with Cruzeiro.  In 1972, he signed for CR Vasco da Gama for a then record fee in the country He is also a medical doctor.
ST: Ronaldo
Ronaldo led Brazil to two World Cup Finals match, winning the one in 2002.  He was also an unused player at the 1994 World Cup Finals. He scored 8 goals in 2002.  He was the winner of Ballon d'Or twice and the FIFA World Player of the Year three times.  He is the second top-scorer in World Cup  history.  He started his career as a teenager with Cruzeiro.  He then played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, and for both AC Milan and Inter Milan. 
Honorable Mention
Orlando Fantoni, Geraldão, Procópio Cardoso, William Douglas, Cláudio Maldonado, Ricardo Goulart, Marcelo Ramos, Fred, Eder, Maicon, João Leite, Reinaldo,  Dario, Mário de Castro, Zé do Monte, Carlyle, Valdo.

Squad Explanation
-- Cruzeiro won their first Copa Libertadores in 1976.  I selected the following players from that team: Nelinho, Raul Plassman, Wilson Piazza, Zé Carlos, Joãozinho and Palhinha. 
-- Robert Perfumo played for their opponent River Plate in the Final.  He played for Cruzeiro between 1971 and 1974.  He captained Argentina at the 1974 World Cup Finals while playing for Cruzeiro.
-- Nelinho made his name scoring a super goal against Italy at the 1978 World Cup Finals.  While at the club, he was also selected for the Bola de Prata (Campeonato Brasileiro team of the year) three times, in 1975, 1979 and 1980.
-- They won their second Copa Libertadores in 1997.  Dida, Ricardinho and Nonato.  The starting lineup included another player named Palhinha, but he was not the same player as the one from the 1976 team.
-- As mentioned, there are two Palhinha who won the Copa Libertadores with Cruzeiro.  The one who made my all-time team was born in 1950. He was the top scorer of 1976 Copa Libertadores.  The second Palhinha was born in 1967. He won two Copas Libertadores in 1992 and 1993 with Sao Paulo before winning the 1997 edition with Cruzeiro.  Liked the other Palhinha, he was the top scorer in the 1992 edition(but Sao Paulo).
-- Ninão (aka Fantoni I), Leonízio Fantoni (Niginho) and Orlando Fantoni are three brothers from the early history of the club.  Their cousin Otávio Fantoni (Nininho) played for Palestra Italian (Cruzeiro's former name).  The Fantoni family was important to the club's history. I do not know much about the Fantoni family. I only left Orlando off the team.
-- For goalkeepers, both Raul Plassman and Dida won the Copa Libertadores.  Fabio is the club's all-time appearance record holder.
-- Cris won the League title in 2003, playing liked the best player on the team. Wilson Piazza almost spent his entire career with Cruzeiro.  He was famous for being a member of Brazil's World Cup team in 1970.  
-- Juan Pablo Sorin was  a fan favorite here.  He was well-respected.
-- Dirceu Lopes played roughly at the same time as Dirceu José Guimarães who was known as Dirceu.  Dirceu won the Bronze Ball at the 1978 World Cup Finals, but never played for Cruzeiro.  I selected Dirceu Lopes here.  He won Bola de Ouro award in 1971 while playing here.  The pair almost crossed path at Fluminense FC.
-- Eder just missed out. Jairzinho only played one season, but he won Copa Libertadores in 1976.
-- Ronaldo left the club as a teenager.  I selected him to this team because he was the greatest homegrown talent from the club. Ronaldo came to national public attention in 1993, scoring five goals in the game against Bahia.  
-- Tostão spent 11 years at the club.  I think he is their greatest ever player.
-- Everton Ribeiro won the player of the year twice: back to back.



  1. Raul
    Nelinho Piazza Cris Sorin
    Ramires Ricardinho |
    Dirceu L. V
    Julinho/Roberto-Batata/Evaldo Palinha/Niginho Tostao

    The midfield is quite defensive so Sorin can move forward without repercussion. Pick your preferred 7

  2. In the honorable mentions i believe you accidentaly placed these Atlético Mineiro players: "João Leite, Reinaldo, Dario, Mário de Castro, Zé do Monte, Carlyle, Valdo." Some of them played briefly for Cruzeiro indeed, like Reinaldo, but absolutely shouldn't be here.