Monday, January 16, 2017

River Plate Greatest All-Time Team

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

Boca Juniors, River Plate, IndependienteEstudiantes de La Plata
San Lorenzo , Racing Club, Velez Sarsfield.
The City of Buenos Aires
Argentine-born players capped by other national teams
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.

In 2000, River Plate was honored by FIFA as the 9th best club of the century in the world and the best Argentine football club in that ranking. At the time of writing, River Plate has won official domestic titles than any other club. River Plate has also won 16 international titles, ten recognised by FIFA and CONMEBOL that includes three Copa Libertadores, one Intercontinental Cup, one Supercopa Sudamericana, one Copa Sudamericana, two Recopa Sudamericana, one Copa Interamericana and one Suruga Bank Championship. Furthermore, the club has also won six tournaments organized by AFA and AUF together: five Copa Dr. Ricardo Aldao, and one Tie Cup.
Copa Libertadores winner 1996
GK: Ubaldo Fillol (Argentina)
Ubaldo Fillol was considered one of the greatest Latin American keeper. He was the 1978 World Cup winning goalkeeper for Argentina.  He also went to the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1982. For domestic football, he played in his native Aegentina, Brazil and Spain, but he was known for his career with River Plate.  In 1977, he became the first keeper to win the Player of the Year award in Argentina. 

GK: Amadeo Carrizo (Argentina)
Amadeo Carrizo was the young goalkeeper for River Plate's "La Máquina" in 1940's.  He won five Championship trophies in 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1957.  He was considered one of the greatest keeper from South America. Despite his greatness, Argentina constantly refused to select him.  He only earned 20 caps. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1958.

GK: Nery Pumpido (Argentina)
Nery Pumpido earned 36 caps for Argentina.  He went to 3 World Cup Finals, winning the 1986 edition as the starting keeper. For domestic football, he played for Unión de Santa Fe, Vélez Sársfield and Real Betis.  He was remembered for playing with River Plate between 1983 and 1988, where he won the 1986 Copa Libertadores, the first ever one for the club.

RB: Hernan Diaz (Argentina)
Herman Díaz joined River Plate in 1989. He went on to win 8 league titles with the club as well as the Copa Libertadores in 1996.  His 10 titles as a player make him the second most decorated player in the history of Club Atlético River Plate after his former teammate Leonardo Astrada. He also played for  Rosario Central, Los Andes and Colón de Santa Fe.  He was capped 28 times for Argentina.  He went to 1994 World Cup Finals in USA.
Hernan Diaz
CB/RB: Norberto Yacon (Argentina)
Noberto Yacon was a member of River Plate's "La Máquina" in 1940's. He made his debut in 1938. He remained with the club until 1953, when he moved to play in Mexico for America.  The highlight of his career with Argentina was the South American Championship 1947 in which La Selección won the tournament undefeated.

CB: Daniel Passarella (Argentina)
Daniel Passarella was one of the best center-backs ever played the game.  He captained Argentina when it won the World Cup in 1978. He also went to the World Cup Finals in 1982, but he was forced into have a non-playing role in 1986 after a row with Diego Maradona. He was also known for scoring over 140 goals in his career, very high for a defender. His career was associated with River Plate. He also played for Fiorentina and Inter Milan in Italy.
Daniel Passarella vs Diego Maradona

CB: Roberto Perfumo (Argentina)
Nicknamed El Mariscal, Perfumo is considered as one of the best Argentine defenders ever. 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 had 37 caps.  He played in 1966 and 1974 WC Finals. 

CB: Oscar Ruggeri (Argentina)
Oscar Ruggeri played in 3 World Cup Finals, winning the one in 1986 and finishing second in 1990. At the time of his retirement, he was the all-time cap holder for Argentina with 97. At the club level, he was La Liga Foreign Player of the Year in 1989 and South American Player of the Year in 1991. He played for both River Plate and Boca Juniors as well as Real Madrid in Spain. He also had career with Vélez Sarsfield, America, San Lorenzo, etc.

Oscar Ruggeri

LB/LM: Jose Ramos  (Argentina)
Born in 1918, Jose Ramos started with Lanus, where he played a single season in 1939.  He was also a member of River Plate's "La Máquina" in 1940's. He played left back and midfield.  He retired in 1952.  At the international level, he was capped 11 times between 1942 and 1946.  He was a key midfielder as Argentina won Copa America in 1946.

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.

DM: Nestor Rossi  (Argentina)
Nester Rossi was one of Argentina's greatest defensive midfielders.  Nicknamed "Pipo", he started his career at River Plate, playing from 1945 to 1949, and then again from 1955 to 1958, winning a total of 5 Argentine leagues. He also won 6 more with Millonarios in Colombia. He played in the 1958 World Cup Finals and was a part of their 1957 Copa America winning team.

DM: Reinaldo Merlo (Argentina)
Reinaldo Merlo played his entire career for River Plate as a defensive midfielder. He was part of the midfield that conquered a string of championships under coach Ángel Labruna between 1975 and 1981. He made over 500 appearances for River Plate. He made 42 appearances in the Superclasico, more than any other player in history.

LW:  Félix Loustau (Argentina)
Félix Loustau was a member of River Plate's "La Máquina. He won  8 national titles during his time at the club. He is considered to be one of Argentina's greatest wingers. His international career was very limited because of the war. Nevertheless, he played 28 times for Argentina scoring ten goals.  He won three straight Copa America in 1945, 1946, and 1947.

CM/DM: Americo Gallego (Argentina)
In 1978, Americo Gallego made his debut with Newell's Old Boys.  In 1981, he moved to River Plate. He played for the "Millonarios" for 7 years. He was the captain during the team's obtaining of their first Copa Libertadores, Intercontinental Cup and Copa Interamericana's in their rich history. Gallego was capped 73 times, winning the 1978 World Cup.

CM/AM/FW:  Alfredo Di Stefano (Argentina)
The best player in the world before the emerge of Pele and Maradona. He was one of the younger member of the great River Plate in the 1940's.  In 1949, he moved to play in Colombia before moving to Europe in 1953.  He won 5 straight European Cups with Real Madrid. He was credited in turning Real Madrid into a legendary club. His international career was limited to the fact that Argentina did not select overseas players.  He played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain.

Alfredo Di Stefano 
AM: Norberto Alonso (Argentina)
Known colloquially as "Beto" Alonso,  he played the majority of his career for the Argentine club River Plate. He was a key player of the team that won River Plate's first Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup in 1986.  For the national team, he was a seldom used by various managers.  He only played a few minutes as Argentina won the 1978 World Cup.

AM: Ariel Ortega (Argentina)
With River Plate, Ariel Ortega won the Primera División in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1996, as well as the Copa Libertadores in 1996.  He also played for Fenerbahçe, Parma, Sampdoria, Valencia, and Newell's Old Boys. Ortega played 87 times for his country.  He played in the 1994, 1998, and 2002 World Cups. He was also a member of the team that won the silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics.  In 2010, he was recalled back to the national team for a match.
Ariel Ortega
SS/FW:  Omar Sivori (Argentina/Italy)
Omar Sivori is remembered one of the greatest ever player from Argentina. He won the Ballon d'Or in 1961. He played with River Plate. After Argentina won the Copa America in 1957, he joined Juventus where he enjoyed 8 successful years.  He was credited with the resurgence of the club.  With John Charles and Giampiero Boniperti, he formed "the Magical Trio" with the club.  In Argentina, he played for River Plate.

AM:  Enzo Francescoli (Uruguay)
Enzo Francescoli is Known as "the Prince".  He was Uruguay's most capped outfield player.  He was a big fan favorite in River Plate where he won Copa Libertadores in 1996.  He also played in France and Italy. With Uruguay, he won three Copa America's in 1983, 1987 and 1995, where he was voted the best player in two of the tournaments.  He played in two World Cup Finals.  He was also South America Player of the Year in 1984 and 1995. 
Enzo Francescoli 
SS/FW: Adolfo Pedernera (Argentina)
Adolfo Pedernera was a member of  "La Máquina".  He is still considered by many to be one of the greatest Argentine players of all-time. He was elected the 12th best South american footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the IFFHS in 2000. He moved to Atlanta in 1947 and Millonarios in Colombia.  Because of the Second World War, he did not play many games for Argentina. He still won the Copa America 1941 and 1945.

FW: Bernabe Ferreyra (Argentina)
Bernabe Ferreyra was one of the first idol footballer in Argentina. His populiarity was so great that he had a movie biography. He played Tigre and Vélez Sársfield joining River Plate for a record transfer fee of 23,000 pounds. He kept this record for a total of 17 years – the longest unbroken time period for this record.  For River Plate, his scoring ratio was more than one goal per match.  He was only capped 4 times.

AM/FW: José Manuel Moreno (Argentina)
José Manuel Moreno was the star of  "La Máquina" of River Plate in the 1940's.  Some older fans in Argentina considered him better than Maradona and Di Stefano. He never played in the World Cup Finals due to the World War II, but won the South American Championships of 1941, 1942 and 1947. He also played club football in Mexico and Colombia. He was the first footballer ever to have won first division league titles in four countries
José Manuel Moreno 
ST/FW: Ángel Labruna (Argentina)
Angel Labruna is the second all-time top scorer of the Argentine First Division with 293 goals. He was also part of the celebrated "La Máquina" of River Plate, and he was considered one of the best South-American footballers of his generation.  He played 37 matches for Argentina, scoring 17 goals. He also won two South American Championships (1946 and 1955) and as a nearly 40-year-old he played in the final phase of 1958 World Cup held in Sweden.

ST/FW: Oscar Mas (Argentina)
Oscar Mas made his debut at the age of 17 in 1964, with River Plate. In total, he scored 199 goals in 382 games for River, being their second-most prolific scorer. He also played for Real Madrid, América de Cali, Quilmes, Sarmiento, Mariano Moreno, El Porvenir, Defensores de Belgrano, Huracán and Talleres de Remedios de Escalada in Argentina. At the international level, he earned 37 caps and was a member of the 1966 World Cup team.

ST: Hernán Crespo (Argentina)
Hernán Crespo started with River Plate. He went on to play for many big clubs in both Italy and England.  He won three Serie A scudetti, a Copa Libertadores and a Premier League title. At international level, Crespo's career was limited by playing at the same time with Gabriel Batistuta, but he still managed to score 35 goals and is Argentina's third highest goalscorer. He played in three FIFA World Cups: 1998, 2002, 2006.
Crespo scoring at the Final of 1996 Copa Libertadores
Honorable Mention
Jose Maria Minella, Pablo Aimar, German Burgos, Marcelo Barovero, Leonardo Astrada, Ramon Diaz, Marcelo Salas, Javier Saviola, Daniel Onega, Juan Jose Lopez, Eduardo Sapoletti
, Alfredo Perez, Mario Kempes, Gonzalo Higuian, Roberto Bonano, Marcelo Gallardo, Ramón Bello, Ricardo Vaghi, Federico Vairo, Jose Ramos Delgado, Juan Carlos Muñoz, Juan José López, Bruno Rodolfi, Pity Martinez, Matías Almeyda, Antonio Alzamendi, Fernando Cavenaghi, Jun Fernando Quintero, Exequiel Palacios, Luas Pratto, Franco Armani, Leonardo Ponzio, Celso Ayala Eduardo Sapoletti, Walter Gomez (Uruguay).
La Máquina

Squad ExplanationSquad Explanation
-- On July, 2021, I did a review of the team.  I rewrote the entire blog.
-- Daniel Passarella, Enzo Francescoli, José Manuel Moreno, Adolfo Pedernera, Angel Labruna and Félix Loustau were probably the greatest ever from River Plate. Alfredo di Stefano did not stay here long enough, but how could I leave him out? Ariel Ortega probably deserved a spot among this list of automatic selections.
-- River Plate is known the "La Máquina" in the 1940's.  They were famous for their 5 forwards, namely Juan Carlos Muñoz, José Manuel Moreno, Adolfo Pedernera, Angel Labruna and Félix Loustau.  I only selected 4 of them.  I left out Juan Carlos Muñoz because he is the least famous of the group and I needed to spread the team around.  From the "La Máquina"'s generation, I also took Alfredo Di Stefano, Norberto Yacon, Jose Ramos and Amadeo Carrizo were also from that era. Walter Gomez was normally not considered to be a part of the team, but he played with some of the players.  Nine players came from that era.
-- The omission of Juan Carlos Muñoz was controversial. I had to choose  between Juan Carlos Muñoz, Omar Sivori and Alfredo Di Stefano.  Juan Carlos Muñoz had a longer career with River Plate than the other two.  And I did not want to break up the "La Máquina". Alfredo Di Stefano was mainly an understudy to the starters during his time with the club.  In the end, I could not drop Omar Sivori and Alfredo Di Stefano.  They were among the greatest Argentine player ever. How could I not select them?
-- I also compared the career of Juan Carlos Muñoz with Ariel Ortega and Oscar Mas. Ariel Ortega won a Copa America in 1996. He was also very decorated.  Oscar Mas is the second highest scorer for the club.  In the end, I wanted to spread the players around from different periods of the club.  I felt that "La Máquina" is well-represented on this team.
-- In 1986, River Plate won their first ever Copa Libertadores. From the 1986 winning team, I selected Américo Gallego, Norberto Alonso, Nery Pumpido and Oscar Ruggeri. 
-- River Plate went undefeated in the 1994-1995 season.  The same group of players also won the following Copa Libertadores in 1996.  I selected Enzo Francescoli, Ariel Ortega, Hernan Crespo and Hernan Diaz from that period in history. Hernan Crespo was the hero of the 1996 Copa Libertadores. 
-- In 2018, River Plate defeated Boca Juniors in the Final of the Copa Libertadores. The series dubbed as the "Game of the Century" was the only time when the "Superclasico" served as the final of an international tournament. It was a historical victory over their biggest rival in the biggest stage possible.  Leonardo Ponzio, Pity Martinez, Jun Fernando Quintero, Exequiel Palacios, Luis Pratto and Franco Armani made honorable mention.  Leonardo Ponzio played a long time with the club.  At 39, he is still an active player in 2021.
In 2018, River Plate defeated Boca Juniors in the Final of the Copa Libertadores
-- The greatness of La Máquina has kept many of River Plate attackers away from this squad. Marcelo Salas, Ramon Diaz and Pablo Aimar were some of the players who contributed a lot to the club, but did not make the team.  Marcelo Salas who was among the club's greatest foreign players. 
-- Amadeo Carrizo was considered South America's greatest ever goalkeeper.  He spent 23 years with River Plate. Ubaldo Fillol helped to end River Plate’s 18-year wait for a title in 1975, and he went on to win six more trophies El Millonario.
-- German Burgos played on the undefeated team of 1994-1995, but I went with Nery Pumpido, who won both Copa Libertadores and the World Cup on the same year in 1986.  Marcelo Barovero was highly rated by recent fans.  So both he and Burgos received honourable mention.
-- Daniel Passarella (Argentina) is probably their greatest defender.  Oscar Ruggeri's transfer from Boca Juniors was then a controversy. He was South American Team of the Year in 1986 as a Millo while helping the club to win the 1986 Copa Libertadores.   I credited Celso Ayala for being in the 1996 Copa Libertadores Finals. Roberto Perfumo joined River Plate at the age of 31.  Nevertheless, he played over 100 games and won three league titles.
-- CB Norberto Yácono played 390 times for the club.  I could also use him as a rightback.  With him, I only need a single rightback.  Herman Díaz is the second most decorated player on the club. 
I did not have space for Ricardo Vaghi. I lefdt out
Eduardo Sapoletti so that I could use the spot for another position.
-- Because of the lack of a modern wingback, Juan Pablo Sorín must be selected.  Besides, he won one of three South American Player of the year title as Milio.
-- Nestor Rossi is probably Argentina's greatest defensive midfielder. Reinaldo Merlo was one club player.
-- Americo Gallego edged out Matías Almeyda and Leonardo Astrada because he was the captain who lifed their first Copa Libertadores, Intercontinental Cup and Copa Interamericana.
-- I really wanted to honor the 2018 Copa Libertadores team and Leonardo Ponzio should have been selected, but others were legends of Argentinian football.  were seriously considered.
-- Marcelo Gallardo and Juan José López could not get into the team because of Ariel Oretga, Alfredo Di Stefano, Norberto Alonso, Enzo Francescoli and José Manuel Moreno.
-- The greatness of La Máquina's attackers has kept many of River Plate attackers away from this squad. they kept Daniel Onega, Antonio Alzamendi, Marcelo Salas, Fernando Cavenaghi and Ramon Diaz off the team. Salas who was among the club's greatest foreign players.   
-- Bernabé Ferreyra was considered to be the first idol of the club. marked an era. The nickname of Millionaires came from the transfer fees paid by River Plate to Tigre for him.
-- Antonio Alzamendi was South America of the Year in 1986 because of the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup won by River Plate.
-- The last forward was between Hernán Crespo and Walter Gomez. Both were not often mentioned as among the greatest. In fact, Marcelo Salas should be ahead of them.  In the end, I took Crespo because of the Copa Libertadores title in 1996.

Only three starters were not on La Maquina. 


  1. Very good lineup man. Sad that there aren't more comments, this is such a great post

  2. Replies
    1. he score two goals in the 2018 Copa Libertadores Finals. Those two games were the most importnat games in the history of River Plate. He got onto honroable mention for that.

  3. Fillol
    Yacono Federico-Vairo Passarella Ramos
    Carlos-Peucelle Sivori Moreno Francescoli Lousteau

    I take Lincoln's word for the sidebacks. Perhaps the more modern generations, with players like Pity Martinez, are underrepresented.