Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cruzeiro Greatest All-time team

Copa Libertadores 1997

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

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 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.  He was capped 17 times, but never went to the WC Finals.

GK: Dida (Brazil)
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 keeper to be nominated for Ballon d' Or that year.  He went to three World Cup Finals and started in 2006 for the Seleção.

GK: Fabio (Brazil)
With Vasco De Gama, he won the Copa do Brasil, the Campeonato Brasileiro, and the Copa Mercosur all in the same year, 2000. He has also won two state championship, the Campeonato Carioca, and the Campeonato Mineiro.  Since 2005, he played for Cruzeiro, amassing over 700 games.  For the national team, he was on the squad of Copa America 2004, but at this moment, he never earned a single cap.

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 international goals.  Hew went to both 1974 and four 1978 FIFA World Cup Finals.  He scored one of the most stunning goals in World Cup history, in the third place match against Italy in 1978: he struck the ball into the far corner with the outside of his right foot, bending it round the sprawling Dino Zoff.  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: Cris (Brazil)
He is also nicknamed "the policeman" by way of reference to his authoritarian nature on the pitch and his four months experience in a police department in Guarulhos. He 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.  Capped 17 times.  He won the Copa América in 2004 and went to Germany 2006.

CB: Roberto Perfumo
At club level, 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. He played in 1966 and 1974 WC 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)
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 WC Finals in 1974.

LB/LW: Juan Pablo Sorin (Argentina)
He 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)
Ricardinho won 15 titles with Cruzeiro, making him the most decorated player in the club's history. He was a part of their 1997 Cop Libertadores winning team.  From 2002 to 2006, he played in Japan.  He earned 3 caps.

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.

CM: Ademir Roque Kaefer (Brazil)
He 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.

RW: Natal (Brazil)
He 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)
Bengal, arrived at the Palestra Italia, the former name of Cruzeiro in 1925. Bengal 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 Niginho.

AM/FW: Dirceu Lopes (Brazil)
Dirceu Lopes played mainly for Cruzeiro and was considered one of tenor best ever player.  He won the Copa Libertadores in 1976. He formed one of the best offensive duos with Tostao in Brazilian football.  He earned 19 caps for Brazil.  He was a part of Saldanha's plan for the WC Finals in 1970, but  he was dropped by Mário Zagallo, due to too many players to their position.
Dirceu Lopes
AM: Everton Ribeiro (Brazil)
He 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, h joined Al-Ahli for €15 million in 2014. 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. At Cruzeiro, Alex had the best performance in his career, winning the Brazilian triple crown (that is the State Championship, the Brasileirão and the Brazilian Cup).  He was capped 47 times.  he never went to the WC Finals, due to playing at the same time as Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Juninho Pernambucano, Juninho Paulista, Kaka.  However, he captained Brazil as they won the Copa America in 2007.

FW: Palhinha (Brazil)
Palhinha started his football career in Cruzeiro in 1969 and had played for them until 1976. 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 represented Brazilian national football team sixteen times during his peak era from 1973 to 1979, including leading the national team to the second runners-up in Copa América 1979. He scored three goals for his country in all his national team appearances.

FW: Joãozinho (Brazil)
He spent most of his career with Cruzeiro.  He was best remembered for the final of the Copa Libertadores in 1976. where Joãozinho scored one of the goals against River Plate. He played 482 games for them and scored 116 goals.

FW: Ninão (aka Fantoni I) (Brazil/Italy)
He 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)
His family was a supporter of Cruzeiro, than known as "Palestra Itália". Fantoni started his career in that club, playing with his brother João Fantoni (Ninão) and their cousin Otávio Fantoni (Nininho). In 1931, they were sold to Lazio. They played with another Italian-Brazilian player, Anfilogino Guarisi, in a Lazio squad known as "Brasilazio". Before moving to Italy, Niginho won the Minas Gerais State Championship in 1928, 1929 and 1930. Niginho also played with Palmeiras and Vasco da Gama.  He was called to 1938 FIFA World Cup as a Leônidas da Silva stand-by player. Unfortunately, the Italians warned FIFA that Niginho was ineligible  ineligible. In 1939, Niginho came back to Palestra Itália, who had to change its name to Cruzeiro in 1942.

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 WC Finals match, winning the one in 2002.  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 WC 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, 
João Leite, Reinaldo,  Dario, Mário de Castro, Zé do Monte and Carlyle.

Squad Explanation
-- I do not know much about the Fantoni family. I only left Orlando off the team.
-- Cris won the League title in 2003, playing liked the best player on the team.
-- Eder just missed out.
-- Ronaldo was the greatest homegrown talent from the club.
-- Everton Ribeiro was the player of the year twice: back to back.


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