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Barcelona’s past 30 years and parallels to today

I made a comment about Barcelona’s past and how it parallels to the current situation in a post about Messi and someone suggested it could be a post of its own.
It’s important to put the present of a club into some sort of context: history tells us why things happen the way they do. There's more information up to 2012 because I think people already know a lot about it since then.
Honestly, if I was a Barca fan I would have hope - you just can’t be on top forever (not saying it’s acceptable to be so bad), all teams go through cycles of good and bad, ups and downs. Their time will come again and as discussed below and judged by history, it will always come with endless crisis and drama with patches of incredible triumph. There will be another era, and another end to that era too.
Remember what Pep said in 2012:
Asked what he would say to the young Barcelona fan crying for the first time last night [after exiting the Champions League], Guardiola replied: "Welcome to the club – there will be many more times, too."
Origins: Nunez and Cruyff
In 1988, Josep Lluis Nunez had been president of Barcelona for ten years - a conservative and stingy man. That year, the ‘Hesperia Mutiny’ occurred: the entire Barca squad called a press conference at which they demanded the resignation of the board, as a result of Nunez’s refusal to pay competitive wages, amongst other, dodgier business practices. Nunez reacted by sacking almost the entire squad, and the manager for good measure.
Nunez’s next move was the appointment of Johan Cruyff. Cruyff, who had cemented his status as a hero among fans with his stint as a player there in the 70s, was a huge success. He changed the entire culture of the club and constructed the foundation on which Barca’s recent successes were built. His team won 4 straight La Liga titles as well as Barca’s first European Cup. They were so good that they were known as the Dream Team.
However, Cruyff also had a massive ego and needed to get his way, which was a recipe for disaster in his relationship with Nunez.
In his heyday Cruyff was far too popular to sack. Nunez knew, though, that all he had to do was bide his time. The Dream Team came to a dismal end in 1994, after they lost the Champions League final that year, which they had been heavily favoured to win, 4-0.
Cruyff responded by dismantling the team and starting over, bringing in more young talent from the academy and foreign stars like Luis Figo, a serious young Portuguese player. The experiment didn’t quite work out, and results continued to slip. Cruyff was the kind of man who didn’t suffer fools at all, and he treated the salivating press pack that covered Spanish football with undisguised contempt when he felt they deserved it. They now felt free to give him some back.
Cruyff and Nunez’s disagreements became increasingly public, and in 1996 finally culminated in his acrimonious departure, which is reported to have included a rant in vice-president and super fan Joan Gaspart’s office in which Cruyff smashed a chair.
Pep, quédate: Guardiola
Cruyff had picked Pep Guardiola out of Barca’s youth team to become the on-field leader of the Dream Team. Cultured, charismatic, a natural leader and a fiercely committed Catalan nationalist, he very quickly attained cult hero status.
The politics of Barcelona and Spanish football in general meant that he also made powerful enemies, both inside and outside the club. Many associated with the conservative club hierarchy did not like how outspoken he was. Increasingly, they worried about the soft power he wielded, fearing he would turn it against them if he perceived them to be acting against the interests of the club.
An example of the difficulty Guardiola posed Nunez: at the end of 96/97, Nunez was being typically ham-fisted about extending Guardiola’s contract, which was due to expire, and Pep was prepared to pack up and leave at the end of the season.
At the big ceremony held at City Hall to celebrate Barca winning the Spanish Cup, star player Luis Figo led the fans in a chant of Nosotros te queremos, Pep, quédate, quédate, quédate (“we love you, Pep, stay”). Rather ironically.
With the threat of an upcoming re-election campaign looming over him, Nunez could hardly afford to lose such a popular player. He backed down and Guardiola signed an extension.
In a way, those in charge at Barca were right to worry. Guardiola was unusually powerful for a player, and he never kept quiet when something struck him as wrong, even if it meant criticising those running the club. So it was almost inevitable that the whispering campaign against him began almost immediately as he came to prominence.
Vice-captain and club hero Luis Figo’s contract was up for renewal at the end of 99/00. Negotiations had stalled over the board’s usual penny-pinching ways. Meanwhile, Real Madrid presidential candidate Florentino Perez was campaigning on the daring but surely impossible promise of bringing Figo to Madrid.
In early July, Figo was still insisting that he would remain at Barca in an interview with local media.
But the pre-contract that was said not to exist did, in fact, exist. Perez won, Madrid paid Figo’s buy-out clause, and pig heads flew.
Decline: Gaspart
Figo’s departure led to a period of madness: at board level, as new president Gaspart spent money like a madman to try and make up for the loss of Figo, bringing in ever more hideously over-priced, sub-standard players on huge wages; and throughout the fanbase, as the fortunes of the team took a nose dive.
“It's a sign of the times at the Camp Nou that Serra Ferrer could declare his satisfaction at a "hard fought victory" and claim that with two wins on the trot, Barcelona are starting to get things right. And against those giants of world football Club Brugge and Osasuna, too.”
Nov 2000 - Sid Lowe
The new manager, Llorenc Serra Ferrer, had no power, leaving control of team affairs largely in the hands of four Spanish veterans, led by the hugely influential but increasingly burnt out club captain Guardiola.
Guardiola was nearing the end of his endurance. As El Pais commented in the late 90s, Barca could not simply continue to use him as a symbol in the morning and a scapegoat in the afternoon. The departure of his good friend Figo (the godfather of his first child) and a string of other fellow homegrown players and veterans saddened him, and he grew increasingly isolated in his struggle to assert the voice and image of Barca that he believed in. The environment grew ever more toxic.
In 2001, Guardiola chose to leave Barca at the end of his contract. Many believed he was jumping before he could be pushed.
The departures of heavyweights such as Figo and Guardiola and chaos at boardroom level had led to a team who were often unmotivated, disorganised, and who no one any good really wanted to join. Fans described the team as 'Puyol and ten other blokes’, future captain Carles Puyol being the lone voice in the desert fighting against apathy and incompetence.
“Barça don't have a discernible first eleven, Luis Enrique is out injured, most of the fans never wanted Louis Van Gaal back in the first place, and the club is wracked by internal divisions, hidden agendas and economic difficulties which the president Joan Gaspart only seems to be making worse.
The knives are out for Gaspart. His three-year presidency has reaped three managers, endless crises and no trophies - not even the Copa de Catalunya. And what little credit he had left was definitively lost with his ridiculous response to last week's derbi events [Figo and the pig’s head]; a response that even drew criticism from the vice-president of the government, Mariano Rajoy.”
Dec 2002 - Sid Lowe

“Van Gaal is gone but FC Barcelona are still a complete shambles. Not surprising really: what they really need is a change of president. Anyone really, just not Joan Gaspart - the man with a supporter's club named in his honour.
A Real Madrid one.”
Feb 2003 - Sid Lowe

“On Saturday night FC Barcelona were beaten 2-1 by hated rivals Real Madrid. It was their first league defeat in a Camp Nou derbi for twenty years… Madrid have broken a twenty year run which was, quite honestly, about the only thing Barça fans could still cling to.”
Nov 2003 - Sid Lowe
Revival: Laporta and Rosell
The presidential elections in 2003 brought about a revolution: Elefant Blau, the protest group which had tried to unseat Nunez and his ilk unsuccessfully in the past, won. Their leader Joan Laporta (a Cruyffista - the young lawyer of Johan Cruyff) became president. His right-hand man Sandro Rosell became vice-president and immediately set about using his connections to renew the squad. Laporta’s team of young professionals, determined to bring the club into the 21st century, was a breath of fresh air in an institution that badly needed it.
Johan Cruyff’s promotion of young players from Barcelona’s academy to form essentially a new team in 1996 didn’t go so well that time, but Cruyff’s innovative approach to youth development did change Barca for the better.
In the dawning days of Laporta’s revolution Barca’s homegrown players got together and made a pact. They were sick of winning nothing, of foreign star players being indulged and locker room chaos. They agreed that from then on, they would rule the side. This agreement sowed the seeds for one of the best teams ever. The key figures of this group were two young Catalans, Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez.
Rijkaard’s new team started the 2003-04 season appallingly but he managed to hang on and turn results around by mid-season.
Barca finished second, one place above the Real Madrid Galacticos, and Ronaldinho became a massive fan favourite. More than anything else, the amount of fun he seemed to have showcasing his skills on the pitch brought a sense of joy back to the Camp Nou at long last.
So the young, energised and modern board had finished second - but Laporta and Rosell fell out over who should have the final say in transfers and the role of Johan Cruyff, among other things. The conflict became bitter and personal.
In the season after that (04-05), Barca signed Deco and Samuel Eto'o, completing the Rijkaard template. A team inspired by the brilliance of Ronaldinho, the flair and bite of Deco and the lethal finishing of Eto'o finally pulled it together to win the league after five seasons of nothing.
Bitter break up and the aborted start of an era: Laporta and Rosell
Despite the success, vice-president Sandro Rosell resigned from the board at the end of the season, citing broken promises and inability to work with president Laporta. From being friends and partners with Laporta to sworn enemies in the space of a few years, the spectacular break-up of their friendship has shaped Barca ever since. From that day onwards, Rosell worked to bring Laporta down (and was eventually elected president in 2010).
To be entirely fair, there's plenty to dislike about Laporta.
Sid Lowe wrote in October of 2005:
“[Laporta is a] paranoid football president who thinks he’s a national one. [It] emerged that director Alejandro Echevarría (and Laporta’s brother-in-law!) is a member of the Fundación Nacional Francisco Franco - an organisation dedicated to the former dictator who ruled Spain with an iron fist for almost forty years. Having a director who's a member of the FNFF is a bit of downer for a club whose self-identity is all about Catalanisme, democracy and opposition to Franco. “Echevarría is not, never was and never will be a member of the Fundación," [Laporta] insisted. Not the brightest decision ever - after all Barça could always claim that their democratic identity means that anyone, however politically embarrassing, can join up, whereas lying leaves no way back when the evidence is suddenly [presented].”
Almost as embarrassing, in fact, as Laporta's ludicrous claim that: "Echevarría can't possibly be a Francoist because he was only 10 when Franco died". And this guy's a lawyer, for Christ's sake.”
However, after this revelation supporters didn’t hound Laporta too much at a game… “thanks not least to 18-year-old Argentinian Leo Messi - yet another New Maradona, except that he might actually be up to the task and he's the only one named after a Mr Man”, Lowe’s first mention of him.
Laporta also was furious with Pique for joining United at 17 - he vowed he’d never return (and of course changed his mind four years later).
The following season (05-06) was even better. The introduction of the fearsome frontline of Ronaldinho-Eto'o-Messi gave Barca new weapons to break teams down with. Leo broke into the first team with a bang, with electrifying performances against Juventus, Real Madrid, and especially Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Barca finished the season by winning a double, with the Champions League trophy returning to Barcelona after 14 years away.
Many of the nice things we heard about Guardiola’s team were being said about Rijkaard’s, back then. Barca had the best player in the world in Ronaldinho and the upcoming superstar in Messi. It was supposed to be the beginning of an era.
Decline: But Messi
By 06-07, things started to go wrong. That’s the problem with winning: no matter how driven you are, everyone’s less hungry after they’ve eaten.
Ronaldinho was joyful but never that driven. Whatever the reason, Ronaldinho, who had always liked a party, fell so far into an unprofessional lifestyle that he began to miss training sessions.
Eto'o got a serious injury, and fell out very publicly with Ronaldinho over the latter’s preferential treatment, general laziness and the fact that the club were committed to protecting his reputation with lies. This feud went all the way up to the boardroom - Rosell had very strong connections with Ronnie’s people, and Laporta and Eto'o were at this stage still pals.
While all around him floundered, supporters increasingly pinned all their hopes on the injury-prone but brilliant 19-year-old Messi. Leo scored a hattrick against Madrid in March 2007, one for every goal Barca let in at the other end. If he could have dragged Barca to the title, he would have. But his body kept betraying him.
Almost inevitably, Barca drew 2-2 with local rivals Espanyol at home during the second to last round, all but handing the title to Madrid.
At the start of 07-08, Barcelona finally ended a long-running and by then farcical transfer saga by signing Thierry Henry from Arsenal. (This combination of words will become annoyingly familiar.)
Henry was welcomed like a hero and immediately had to fill in for Eto'o because the latter suffered another serious injury in pre-season. He struggled to fit in, unfit and desperately missing his daughter.
The slackness that had crept into the team the season before became painfully apparent, especially when it came to Deco and Ronaldinho, two of the team’s key players. For fans who kept faith with Ronnie and with the reassurances of the club’s own media, it was a shock to read in reputable papers stories about him missing about 50% of the scheduled training sessions and partying away his evenings. Rijkaard had finally had enough and began to leave him out of match squads, using fitness as an excuse.
All this came to a head when fellow Brazilian Edmilson gave a rant about there being 'black sheep’ in the locker room. You can imagine the press feeding frenzy that followed. Frank Rijkaard, whose players loved him for treating them like adults, was too distracted by family problems of his own to sort out an increasingly lazy, disaffected and conflict-ridden locker room. And so on it went.
In May, Barca faced the ugly prospect of having to give Madrid, who were already champions, a guard of honour at the Bernabeu. Rather than have to do this, Deco and Eto'o both earned what looked like deliberate yellow cards in the game immediately before the Clasico, enabling them to miss the game. This really pissed the fans off, sealed Deco’s fate and led to Eto'o falling out with Laporta.
Immediately after a 4-1 defeat to Madrid, Laporta sacked Rijkaard in a transparent attempt to save his own skin. The club finished third place, 18 points off Madrid. The entorno (”environment”, Cryuff’s word for the combination of media, former players/managers, power brokers and fanbase that makes Barca such a special basketcase) was in complete uproar, torn apart by disagreements and infighting.
As writer Phil Ball said at the end of 07-08: “Barcelona will want to sleep for a while, but hope that the nightmares cease. Adversity builds the character, and they can only hope to bury the negatives, take the few positives, and learn from their mistakes.”
The Fairytale Years: Pep Guardiola
President Joan Laporta remained a canny political operator in crisis mode. He knew that the continuation of his presidency hinged on making the right managerial appointment. In this task he was guided, as always, by his guru and idol Johan Cruyff, and by sporting director and ex-Dream Team player Txiki Begiristain.
Rijkaard’s replacement? Pep Guardiola.
Pep Guardiola had returned in 2007 to the club of his life where he’d been ballboy, trainee, player, captain and symbol to manage Barca’s B team, which had just suffered the indignity of relegation to the murky depths of the 4th division (this is even a parallel to how badly Xavi’s Qatar team is doing!). All his friends had told him that it was a potential career and reputation ruiner, and to stay away. But he knew what he had to do.
In desperation, and perhaps remembering an exchange a year earlier where Guardiola had expressed his willingness and readiness to take on the Barca job next year, Laporta now turned to Guardiola. In response, he got a list of demands.
Guardiola might have been taking on his first senior job, but he knew Barca. He knew he needed real power if anything was going to change, and he knew the board needed him to rally the fanbase. They gave him what he wanted, including the assistants and physios he named, Tito Vilanova as his second in command, an end to opening training sessions, and moving first team training away from the Camp Nou. From the day of his appointment, the power balance inside Barca changed.
The day after the appointment was announced, two club members launched a censure motion against the board, essentially a vote of no confidence. The campaign was hard-fought and dirty, accusations of Sandro Rosell’s involvement abounded, and Laporta emerged intact by the skin of his neck. The Guardiola maneuvre had saved him. For now.
Next came a painful clear-out. 7 members of the first team departed, including Ronaldinho and Deco, two key members of the Barca team that won a double just 2 years ago. They were replaced by a number of not high ticket but highly astute signings, the pick of which were young former La Masia defender Gerard Pique and rightback and all-around dynamo Dani Alves.
Guardiola looked at Rijkaard’s squad and saw a good team in its bones, even if it was in need of a refresher. He set about doing this by making sure that the key members of his new team were on board.
Unsettled players like Henry and Gudjohnsen were brought back into the fold, and most importantly Guardiola forged a quick and unbreakable bond with Leo Messi by taking his side in the absurd dispute between Messi and the club over his participation in the 2008 Olympics. Unlike the board, Guardiola saw that the club’s best interests were served in the long term by keeping Messi happy, rather than pissing him off over a short term conflict. (Sound familiar?) He made sure he was an ally to Messi from the beginning, invested in his development as a player and a person.
With the departure of Ronaldinho, the club captaincy was now held by four La Masia grads who had all been around for a good while (Carles Puyol, Xavi, Victor Valdes and Andres Iniesta). At the beginning of the season, the squad included 11 homegrown players, a state of affairs not seen in Barca for some time. The rumoured La Masia pact was coming to fruition, in the hands of a manager who would turn Barca into a team centred around homegrown talent.
Guardiola was in a good position to evaluate whether any of his former charges at the B team were ready for the first team. He chose two seemingly unremarkable kids and began starting them over more established and popular players. Far from welcoming this initiative, criticism and skepticism were the predominate initial responses, which Guardiola blithely ignored.
The two kids were Pedro, who went on to play a major part in Barca’s trophy haul of the next 7 years, and… Sergio Busquets.
Most significantly, Pep Guardiola saw from the very beginning that young Leo Messi was the key component of his new team. He made sure that they understood each other, and rather than simply paying lip service to his importance, he continuously devised tactical changes to maximise Messi’s potential. The most significant of these changes was having Messi interchange with Eto’o and spend more time in the central no 9 role.
Pep had turned a demoralised rabble into something nobody could have ever anticipated. He had arrived with absolutely clear ideas of how he wanted the team to play, and he only needed to convince his players to buy into the high intensity pressing/passing game.
Barcelona entered into a swap deal with Inter in July 2009 to exchange Eto’o and a very large pile of cash for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It was not a popular decision and at the time, Pep Guardiola famously explained away this decision by saying there was a lack of “feeling” between him and the Cameroonian. While the two of them had gotten off to perhaps the worst possible start (with Guardiola declaring that he wanted to sell Eto’o in 2008 and then changing his mind) and there had been hints of tension between these too-honest men during the season, this explanation didn’t stand up entirely to scrutiny even then.
The truth, as is often the case with Barca, was a lot more murky and complicated. The driving force behind the swap deal was two-fold. The first was the board. Laporta had previously been close to Eto’o but fell out with him over the way he ruled himself out for the memorably awful Madrid game in April 2008. The other person who had ruled himself out that day by getting deliberately booked, Deco, was cast off by Barca in 2008, while Eto’o bought himself another season by staving off interest from other clubs with his wage demands and performing well enough to convince Guardiola to give him a chance.
The board also had complicated financial imperatives for wanting rid of Eto’o. They pushed for him to go even more than Guardiola did, a fact which is completely forgotten now, because everyone was happy to let Guardiola take the blame at the time.
Then Zlatan came but ultimately Pep couldn’t make him work with the squad. Pep decided that Messi needed to play in the middle, and having tried and failed to make that work with Ibra, he knew that Ibra had to go.
Bitter Break Up Continues: Laporta and Rosell
In 2010, Laporta finished up his 2 terms as president of Barca. He was replaced by his ex-friend Sandro Rosell, who had spent the years since their falling out trying to unseat him by whatever means necessary.
Sandro Rosell’s entire presidency was about not being Joan Laporta. Laporta expanded membership and embraced globalism, so he used xenophobic justifications to restrict it to locals only. Using some creative accounting, he accused Laporta of nearly bankrupting the club and used the alleged state of the finances to justify a policy of austerity and introduce a paid shirt sponsor for the first time in the club’s history. Laporta was a rabid Cruyffista who had made Cruyff the honorary president of the club; Rosell stripped Cruyff of this position almost immediately.
In 2013, Barcelona’s radical ultras Boixos Nois returned to the Camp Nou - Laporta had banned them.
Rosell used the club as a tool to further his epic vendetta, going so far as to orchestrate an extraordinary lawsuit filed by the club against Laporta and his board for alleged financial mismanagement. (A lawsuit which was thrown out by the courts.)
Guardiola was wary of Rosell from the start. He did not approve of the lawsuit against Laporta and publicly said so. Worse, one of the first things Rosell did was to sell Dmytro Chygrynskiy against Guardiola’s wishes, citing the club’s need for cash. When Pep asked Rosell for squad reinforcements, particularly in defence, stories surfaced in the board-friendly media about how Pep didn’t want more signings because he wanted a smaller squad. This forced Guardiola into talking about the need for reinforcements in public.
Pep had gone through the same routine with Laporta in 2009. The difference there being that Laporta buckled and signed the defender Pep was after. Rosell never did.
"The way [Barca] is organised, there are only two options: either you’re the power or you aren’t the power. And, against my wishes, I have been forced to pick sides.” - Pep Guardiola to Marti Perarnau
Even during Laporta’s presidency, it could be argued that he was having to do too much, in part because others were doing too little. But at least Laporta was biddable, and they largely agreed on major issues.
With Rosell, there was either disagreement or a general deafening silence
In February 2011, Barca lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 matchup. The furore that followed was typical Barca: it was the end of the world, this team was worse than the previous versions, this team was never any good, Messi and Iniesta were over the hill, Barca was in crisis. Pep asked for time because he knew his players.
In 1992, Cruyff’s Barcelona, with Pep in midfield, had won Barca’s first Champions League at Wembley Stadium. 19 years later, a team built on Cruyffista principles by Guardiola had come back to Wembley to close the circle.
In 2014, president Rosell resigned in disgrace over multiple scandals. He was replaced (unelected) by vice president Bartomeu.
The Beginning of the End: Bartomeu
In 2015, things went off the rails, despite the eventual result.
Club boards survive by putting up scapegoats. The board fired sporting director Zubizarreta - his assistant, one Carles Puyol, resigned his position. The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed FIFA’s sanction for Barca’s clear breach of the Transfer Regulations. Messi followed Chelsea on Instagram.
The local media reported some sort of conflict between Messi and manager Luis Enrique, along the lines of the locker room unrest rumours which were running wild since Barca lost to Madrid. There were further rumours that Luis Enrique had to be talked out of initiating disciplinary action against Messi by the other three captains (Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets). Local media fanned the flames of a supposed Messi v Enrique conflict and suggested that Enrique’s hiring was all Zubizarreta’s idea. One section of the local media was effectively in bed with the board.
The Rosell/Bartomeu board saw many instances of misconduct such as the Qatar shirt deal, the Neymar deal, breaking its promise to renew Eric Abidal’s contract after his illness, the failed lawsuit against the former board, secret deals signed with banned and fascist ultra groups, firing and reshuffling members of the medical and technical team against the wishes of the players, repeatedly misleading members about the state of Barca’s finances before and after 2010.
And finally: stealthily changing the bylaws so that anybody wishing to initiate a vote of no confidence against the board had to gather the signatures of 15% of all members in 5 days, instead of just 5%.
The FIFA ban was the first time they were rattled, and then Messi was on their back, which is the one thing they can’t survive, coupled with bad results. Bartomeu then called an election for later that year in January.
Of course, then the results got better in 2015 and they won everything.
By the time of the election in July 2015 this was no longer the case due to their success. Laporta was running against Bartomeu (Of the signatures Laporta needed to collect to stand, Cruyff’s support for him was not registered). Guardiola, Cruyff and Abidal all publicly supported Laporta. Bartomeu won.
Current situation
The central conflict that everything to do with Barca has revolved around for the past 30+ years is Cruyff v Nunez. They’re both dead now but that hasn’t changed a thing about the persistence of the conflict. The “modern” version of this conflict began with the rift between then-president Joan Laporta (Cruyffista) and then-VP Sandro Rosell in the 00s. The current board is a continuation of Rosell’s presidency, which began in 2010. Rosell’s presidency was controversial for many many reasons, among them his board’s open conflict with Pep Guardiola both during and after Guardiola’s extremely successful tenure as manager. The current president became president because Rosell resigned in disgrace and then had his position confirmed thanks to Luis Enrique’s on field success. Oh, and because his board sneakily changed the rules to make it harder to get rid of them. The board has repeatedly clashed with Leo Messi, both by members of the board making really dumb public statements and through their proxies in the local press. every time the fans become unhappy with the board they repeat the magic trick of firing someone else to take the heat off.
The board has treated Messi poorly for so long, making him a scapegoat in the morning and a saviour in the afternoon, taking it for granted that he wouldn’t want to leave.

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Brazilian Big12 series, Episode 11/12: Cruzeiro

Previous episodes: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Grêmio, Botafogo, Atlético Mineiro, Internacional, Corinthians, Santos, Palmeiras
In this series I will present each of the 12 Brazilian teams that together compose the "Big 12". My point is to make them more knowledgeable to you, since each one of these teams have their share of the Brazil national team success and of Brazilian club football accomplishments as a whole. I'll try to be as smooth, efficient and non-boring as I can. If the feedback is positive, I'll keep bringing more to this series. So ok, let's do this!
Method: I'll present the teams in a chronological order, from the oldest foundation (Flamengo-1895) to the latest one (São Paulo-1930). The order will be: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Grêmio, Botafogo, Atlético Mineiro, Internacional, Corinthians, Santos, Palmeiras, Cruzeiro, São Paulo. How many of these have you heard of?
Extra clubs: Due to a high number of requests, I'll also present 3 teams who don't belong to the Big12, but are also considered big clubs in Brazil: Bahia, Athletico Paranaense and Coritiba. Welcome to the club!
Geographical reference: Before we start, I'd like to ask something very simple from you. I want you to keep in mind that these 12 teams are spread in 4 different States in Brazil. The club's State name is written below, next to the club's name. It has a direct link to Google Maps, so that you can check it out to make this experience more accurate.

Episode 11/12: Cruzeiro (State: Minas Gerais), founded in 1921

State rivals: Atlético Mineiro, América Mineiro

Stadium: Mineirão - New / Old

Mascot: Fox

Major achievements: 2 Copa Libertadores (1976, 1997), 4 Brazilian Leagues (1966, 2003, 2013, 2014), 6 Copa do Brasil (1993, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2017, 2018), 2 Supercopa Libertadores (1991, 1992)

State League titles: 38 (Against Atlético Mineiro's 45, América Mineiro's 16)

Palestra Italia and the first decades
Inspired by the Italian team founded in São Paulo in 1914, Palestra Italia (eventually Palmeiras), the Belo Horizonte Italian city colony decided to create their own Palestra Italia in 1921. In 1925 already, the club was open to any nationality.
Until 1959, due to Brazil's huge size and weak infrastructure, there wasn't a national league yet, so the teams played inside their own State Leagues. Cruzeiro won their first in 1928, followed by two more titles in 1929 and 1930. At that point, their rivals Atlético Mineiro and América Mineiro had 3 and 10 titles, respectivally.
In 1931, two Cruzeiro's players became the firsts Brazilians bought by an European club: Ninão (FW) and Nininho (LB) left for Lazio in 1931.
1942: World War II, Palestra Italia becomes Cruzeiro
After Brazil's war declaration against the Axis, every Italian/German/Nippon-associated name in the country would have to be rebranded. Palestra Italia became Palestra Mineiro (Mineiro meaning "from the state of Minas Gerais"). However, despite Palestra being a greek word, it had to be taken out aswell. Yale, Ypiranga and Cruzeiro were suggested at the assembly, with the latter being chosen, in honor of the Cruzeiro do Sul constellation.
Through the 1940s, 1950s and until 1965, Cruzeiro won 8 more State League titles, totalizing 11 titles, Atlético Mineiro and América Mineiro had 22 and 12 titles, respectivally.
1965-1977: the dream team
In this period, Cruzeiro stepped up from being a regional team to become a major national protagonist, notably beating the big teams from the Rio-São Paulo axis.
Cruzeiro won 1 Copa Libertadores (1976), 1 Brazilian League (1966) and 10 State Leagues (5 of them consecutively). They also finished 2nd in 3 Brazilian Leagues (1969, 1974, 1975) and 1 Copa Libertadores (1977).
Cruzeiro also provided 7 World Cup call-ups, with Tostão (1966, 1970), Fontana (1970), Piazza (1970, 1974) and Nelinho (1974, 1978). Besides, from 1970 to 1975, 6 Cruzeiro players' were elected to one of the greatest League XI in the world at that time: Brito (1970), Dirceu Lopes (1970, 1971, 1973), Tostão (1970), Piazza (1972), Nelinho (1975) and Palhinha (1975). Tostão was elected 1971 South American Player of the Year.
Everything started in 1965: the team wasn't performing well in the State League, until the building of the new city stadium ended - the Mineirão inspired Cruzeiro to become a more competitive team, so that they ended the State League as undisputed champions.
In 1966, the team was reinforced with some talents, for the 8th edition of the Brazilian League, still disputed in a short knock-out system. Only each State League champion of all the Brazilian states (21) were allowed into it, as well as the current champions. Cruzeiro had never gone beyond a top6 position, but in 1966 everything would be different.
It was in that 1966 season that Cruzeiro beat Pelé's Santos 6-2 in the final, at a full Mineirão (90.000 spectators). It was absurd, and no one could believe that.
Cruzeiro (4-1-5) 6 x 2 Santos (4-2-4)
1. Raul 1. Gylmar
2. Pedro Paulo 2. Carlos Alberto Torres
3. William 3. Mauro
4. Procópio 4. Oberdan
5. Neco o.g. 5. Zé Carlos
6. Piazza 6. Zito
7. Dirceu Lopes 3x 7. Lima
8. Natal 1x 8. Dorval
9. Evaldo 2x 9. Toninho Guerreiro
10. Tostão 1x 10. Pelé
11. Hilton 11. Pepe
Airton Moreira Lula
Santos had 6 World Cup champions on their line-up, and had won 5 consecutive Brazilian League titles, besides being continental and club world champions twice, and having smashed every possible big team in the world. But now, it was Cruzeiro who smashed them 6-2, with a hat-trick from Dirceu Lopes.
The first half ended 5-0 in Cruzeiro's favor, with a constant bombing from them. Santos scored twice in the second half, before Cruzeiro ended the match with their 6th goal: you can see all Cruzeiro goals here.
In the final 2nd leg, the rain transformed the pitch into a mud. Santos ended the first half with a 2-0 advantage, with Pelé scoring once - things seemed to have come back to normal. But they only seemed, as Cruzeiro score three times in the second half, at '63, '73 and '89, besides missing a penalty at '57. First with Tostão from this nice free-kick, then with Dirceu Lopes and Natal. It was over, Cruzeiro had beaten Pelé's Santos and were crowned Brazilian League champions for the first time. Highlights to goalkeeper Raul, who operated miracles throughout the second match and to defensive midfielder Piazza, who made Pelé disappear on the pitch.
This victory meant a lot in the development of Brazil's National League: the 1967 Rio-São Paulo Tournament (interstate league) was then opened and enlarged to teams from the states of Minas Gerais (Cruzeiro, Atlético Mineiro) and Rio Grande do Sul (Grêmio, Internacional), as a recognition of their level, thus creating a new Brazilian League, more condensed and elitized, gathering the best teams from 4 states, rather than the old democratic (but less competitive) format which gathered 21 states.
Cruzeito kept collecting State League titles against their archrival Atlético Mineiro: 5 in a row between 1965 and 1969, then 4 in a row between 1972 and 1975 - 9 titles in 12 years, Cruzeiro's best rate until today. Highlights to Roberto Perfumo, prestigious Argentine center-back, elected to Argentina all-time dream team, who played in 138 matches for Cruzeiro between 1971-74.
In 1969, they finished second to Palmeiras in the Brazilian League, due to just 1 fewer goal on the goal difference (1x2).
In 1974, they finished second to Vasco in the Brazilian League. They had a greater goal difference (2x1) but the rule determined an extra match, which Cruzeiro lost 1-2.
1976: the first Copa Libertadores title
After losing the 1975 Brazilian League final 0-1 to Internacional, Cruzeiro picked the second spot to the 1976 Copa Libertadores.
Only 1 of 4 teams would advance from their group stage, shared with Internacional, and the Paraguayans Olimpia and Sportivo Luqueño. It was pretty much clear that the spot would go either to Cruzeiro or Internacional: they met on the first match, a crazy 5-4 victory to Cruzeiro, who was never behind in the score - they were leading 3-1, Internacional tied at '51, Cruzeiro took the lead again, but Internacional tied at '70, before Cruzeiro closed the coffin at '84 from a penalty kick.
In the second group stage, Cruzeiro demolished Ecuadorians and Peruvians with 4 easy wins: 3-1, 4-0, 7-1, 4-1. They qualified to the big final against River Plate with a 9W-1D campaign, scoring 38 goals in 10 matches.
In the final 1st leg, Cruzeiro demolished the Argentines, beating them 4-1 at home. In the second leg, however, they were beaten 1-2 at the Monumental stadium in Argentina, and the title would be decided in an extra match, in Chile.
In the 3rd and decisive match, Cruzeiro had opened 2-0 at '55 with Nelinho and Eduardo, but River Plate reacted and scored at '59 and '64. At '88, Joãozinho scored the title goal from a free-kick, and Cruzeiro were declared South American champions for the first time, the second Brazilian team to do so.
Palhinha was the topscorer, with 13 goals in 11 matches. The South American level was so crazy back then, that no Cruzeiro player was included in the South American POTY shortlist, with the likes of Figueroa (1st), Zico (2nd) and Rivellino (3rd) making it.
This title qualified Cruzeiro to the 1976 Intercontinental Cup against European champions Bayern München. However, they lost the title over two legs - a 0-2 defeat in Germany and a 0-0 tie in Brazil.
In 1977, Cruzeiro entered the Copa Libertadores on the second stage, as current champions, where they beat Internacional and Portuguesa. In the finals, Boca Juniors beat them 5-4 in the penalties on the third match (0-1, 1-0, 0-0).
Player Period Apps Goals Brazil NT Caps Goals World Cup att.
Raul 1965-78 557 - 8 - -
Piazza 1963-78 566 40 59 36 2 (1970, 1974)
Tostão 1964-71 378 249 65 36 2 (1966, 1970)
Dirceu Lopes 1964-77 594 224 19 4 -
Nelinho 1973-82 427 105 21 6 2 (1974, 1978)
Palhinha 1969-76 434 145 16 6 -
Joãozinho 1973-82 482 116 6 1 -
Jairzinho 1976 24 15 105 44 3 (1966, 1970, 1974)
1990s: international glory, birth of Ronaldo Nazário, and Copa do Brasil supremacy
Cruzeiro vanished from the domestic and international scene in the 1980s, collecting just two state league titles in 1984 and 1987.
The 1990s however marked the rebirth of the Fox. They won 6 international titles (1 Libertadores, 2 Supercopa Libertadores, 1 Recopa, 1 Copa Ouro, 1 Copa Master), 3 Copa do Brasil, and saw the uprising of Ronaldo Nazário between 1993 and 1994.
1991-92: back-to-back Supercopa Libertadores titles
The Supercopa Libertadores (1988-97) gathered all the teams who had already conquered the prestigious Copa Libertadores, in a knock-out tournament, that would give a spot in the Recopa Sudamericana.
In 1991, Cruzeiro won it after 8 matches (2W-4D-2L), beating Colo-Colo (Chile) (0-0, 0-0, p.k. 4-3), Nacional (Uruguay) (4-0, 0-3), Olimpia (Paraguay) (1-1, 0-0, p.k. 5-4) and River Plate (Argentina) (0-2, 3-0) in the final.
Highlights to Cruzeiro comeback in the big final, scoring 3 goals on the return leg at home (6mn video), in front of 70.000 spectators. It was Cruzeiro's second international trophy, the second won against River Plate.
In the 1992 title campaign, Cruzeiro beat Atlético Nacional (Colombia) (1-1, 8-0), River Plate (Argentina) (2-0, 0-2, p.k. 5-4), Olimpia (Paraguay) (1-0, 2-2), and Racing (Argentina) (4-0, 0-1) in the final.
The next year, Cruzeiro won their first Copa do Brasil, which had been launched in 1989. They beat Nautico (0-1, 2-0) with this nice qualiyfing-goal after a nutmeg from Nonato. Then they beat the reserves of São Paulo in the quarter-finals, and Vasco in the semis (3-1, 1-1). The final would be against Grêmio, the Brazilian Rei de Copas (King of Cups). First leg away ended 0-0, and at home Cruzeiro won 2-1, with the winning goal coming from a header at '65.
In those years, however, Cruzeiro lost two Recopa Sudamericana to the Libertadores champions Colo-Colo, in 1992, and São Paulo, in 1993.
1993: Ronaldo Nazário, the birth of a legend
At the age of 16, Ronaldo made his professional debut for Cruzeiro. In that 1993 season, Ronaldo played only 29 matches of the team's 62 over the year, and still managed to score 28 goals, being the topscorer. He notably scored 12 goals in 14 Brazilian League matches, and 8 goals (topscorer) in 4 Supercopa Libertadores' matches. In the Supercopa Libertadores, he scored a hat-trick and a brace against Colo-Colo (Chile), a brace against Nacional (Uruguay), before his team fell on penalties.
He also scored 5 goals on the same league match against Bahia, notably this funny/iconic one against the celebrated Uruguayan goalkeeper Rodolfo Rodriguez.
The next season, in 1994, Ronaldo kept destroying his adversaries, before leaving to PSV. He scored 28 in 29 matches, 22 of them in the state league (which Cruzeiro won undefeated), and a special historical one against Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores, where he performed his traditional arrancada, going from the midfield past 4 adversaries, including the goalkeeper, before scoring.
He was called and won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil, before leaving Cruzeiro, having scored 56 goals in 58 matches.
Player Period Apps Goals Brazil NT Caps Goals World Cup att.
Ronaldo Nazário 1993-94 58 56 105 67 4 (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
1996-97: Cruzeiro's second Copa do Brasil and Copa Libertadores titles
As complete underdogs, Cruzeiro won for the second time the Copa do Brasil and the prestigious Copa Libertadores.
In 1996 Copa do Brasil, Cruzeiro demolished Vasco in the round of 16, beating them 6-2 and then tying 1-1. In the quarter-finals, they smashed the good Corinthians of Edmundo and Marcelinho 4-0 and advanced to the semis, where they tied twice against Flamengo (1-1, 0-0). The big final would be against the stellar team of Palmeiras, of the monsters Cafu, Júnior, Djalminha, Luizão and Rivaldo. Cruzeiro had Dida, who saved this shot at the end of the first leg, Marcelo Ramos, who scored the tying goal and the excellent/multichampion Palhinha. The 1-1 tie at home wasn't great, but Cruzeiro somehow managed to beat Palmeiras 2-1 away in the 2nd leg, in a great comeback.
Palmeiras opened the score at '6 with this majestic Djalminha-to-Rivaldo-to-Luizão goal - everyone was expecting a large win by Palmeiras. But Cruzeiro tied at '25 with Roberto Gaucho, after Amaral childish mistake.
In the second half, Dida appeared. The goalkeeper made several great defenses, which prevented Cruzeiro from suffering a massacre. The excellent Palhinha answered with this touch of finesse, saved by Velloso. At '85, Marcelo Ramos scored the winning goal and Cruzeiro were Copa do Brasil champions.
This title qualified Cruzeiro to the 1997 Copa Libertadores.
1997: Copa Libertadores title, Cruzeiro are continental champions again
After 21 years, Cruzeiro won the Copa Libertadores for the second time. Unlike their 1976 squad, the team had a difficult time, with 7W-1D-5L.
The team began with 3 defeats on the group stage (1-2, 0-1, 0-1), one at home against Grêmio and two away, against Peruvian teams Alianza Lima and Sporting Cristal. Cruzeiro needed at least two wins to be part of the 3 teams to advance: they beat Grêmio 1-0 away, then Alianza Lima 2-0 at home, and - already qualified - 2-1 against Sporting Cristal.
In the ro16, Cruzeiro lost the 1st leg away to El Nacional, 0-1. In the return leg, Cruzeiro opened 2-0, but the match ended 2-1, going to the penalties - where the star Dida defended two, and Cruzeiro advanced to the next stage.
Grêmio would be their opponent in the quarter-finals, and playing the first leg at home in the Mineirão, Cruzeiro won 2-0. In the 2nd leg, Cruzeiro opened 1-0, conceded two goals, and left the Olimpico stadium with a 1-2 defeat and qualified to the semis.
In the semi-finals, Cruzeiro met Colo-Colo. In the first leg, at home, the Brazilians won 1-0, after this master-dumb action by Colo-Colo goalkeeper. In Chile, Cruzeiro were losing 1-3, until they scored this savior goal at '63, taking it to the penalties. Dida star shone again, as he defended two penalties and put Cruzeiro on the final.
In the final against Sporting Cristal, the first match would be played in Peru, which was pretty balanced and ended 0-0. In Brazil, Dida saved Cruzeiro again, before Elivelto scored the title goal at '75. Cruzeiro were crowned Copa Libertadores champions for the second time.
However, Cruzeiro only escaped relegation in the national league on the last match - the board only cared about the Intercontinental Cup in December against European champions Borussia Dortmund. They got Bebeto and Donizete on loan just for this match, but they lost it 0-2.
1998: the runner-up season
Cruzeiro increased a lot in 1998 with the arrivals of Fabio Junior, Müller and Valdo.
They finished 2nd in the Brazilian League, in the Copa do Brasil and in the Copa Mercosul. However, they won the State League for the third time in a row, and also won the Recopa Sudamericana against River Plate (2-0, 3-0). In the Copa Libertadores, they were knocked out in the round of 16 by the eventual champions, Vasco.
Dida left at the end of the season to Milan.
2000: third Copa do Brasil title, and the end of a glorious decade
Cruzeiro played 13 matches, with 8W-5D, to secure the 2000 Copa do Brasil title. They notably beat Athletico (2-1, 2-2), Botafogo (3-2, 0-0), Santos (2-0, 2-2) and São Paulo (0-0, 2-1).
Highlights to the big final, against São Paulo. Cruzeiro tied the 1st leg away 0-0, and were losing 0-1 at home in the 2nd leg. At '80, Fabio Junior tied, but Cruzeiro needed one more goal. At '90, Giovanni scored from this free-kick, to the despair of goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni. São Paulo almost tied at '91, the match ended at '92, and Cruzeiro won the Copa do Brasil title for their third time.
Player Period Apps Goals Brazil NT Caps Goals World Cup att.
Dida 1994-98 209 - 92 - 3 (1998, 2002, 2006)
Cris 1999-04 260 25 16 1 1 (2006)
Sorín (Argentina) 2000-02 110 17 76 12 2 (2002, 2006)
Marcelo Djian 1998-00 96 5 - - -
Nonato 1991-97 339 22 3 - -
Valdo 1998-00 52 11 65 6 2 (1986, 1990)
Ricardinho 1994-02 411 45 3 - -
Palhinha 1996-97 55 18 16 5 -
Marcelo Ramos 1995-96, 97-00, 01-03 345 162 2 1 -
Fabio Junior 1997-98, 2000 65 30 3 - -
Elivelton 1997-98 20 5 13 1 -
Müller 1998-00 93 24 59 12 3 (1986, 1990, 1994)
Oséas 2000-01 130 55 2 - -
Roberto Gaúcho 1992-97 113 25 - - -
2003: the dream year
Luxemburgo, former Palmeiras, Corinthians and Brazil NT coach, took the job in late 2002, when the team was threatened of relegation, but got saved.
The new coach started building the team for the following season, and the result was an unprecedented national triple crown conquest, with the titles of the State League, the Copa do Brasil and the Brasileirão. Since the creation of the Copa do Brasil in 1989, the only teams that got close to winning both the Copa and the League was Cruzeiro in 1998, finishing second in both, and Corinthians in 2002, winning the Copa and losing the league's final.
But in 2003, Cruzeiro had a powerful and demolishing team that won it all. They started winning the State League undefeated, with 10W-2D. In the Copa do Brasil, they played 11 matches, with 8W-3D, beating Vasco (2-1, 1-1), Goiás (3-2, 2-1) and Flamengo (1-1, 3-1) in the final. Highlights to this back-heel goal by Alex in the final 1st leg. Despite winning the Copa, Cruzeiro still had to prove themselves in the league, because between 2001 and 2012 the best teams in Brazil weren't allowed to play the Copa do Brasil, so that they could focus in the Copa Libertadores.
The 2003 Brazilian League was the first one with a double round-robin and no play-offs in the history of the league. Cruzeiro biggest adversary were Santos, current Brazilian champions and runner-up of the Copa Libertadores, hyped by the upcoming talents of Diego and Robinho. But Cruzeiro had Alex, the most capped Brazilian player in history not to be called to a World Cup, a Palmeiras, Coritiba and Fenerbahçe idol. With him leading the team as a 10, they reached a rate of 72% on the league, over 46 matches, with a win rate of 67%. Cruzeiro led the league all the way around since the 8th round through the 46th round, with the exception of 2 rounds that Santos quickly led (16 and 28). Cruzeiro notably beat Santos 2-0 away and 3-0 at home, the latter match being seen as the most decisive of the league, in which Cruzeiro showed no mercy or fatigue. Until Flamengo's 2019 campaign, this was considered the most dominant display by a team in the "Double Round-Robin National League Era (since 2003)". However, the quality of the national league in 2003 was a couple of tiers above the 2019 one, making Cruzeiro accomplishment relatively more difficult to achieve than 2019 Flamengo's.
Until today, 2003 Cruzeiro is seen as the most powerful Brazilian team of the 21st century, along with 2010 Santos and 2019 Flamengo - in terms of aesthetics, strenght and superiority.
However, the team dismantled in early 2004, and couldn't reach higher levels anymore.
This 48mn documentary tells the whole story of Cruzeiro triple-crown season. Three Cruzeiro players were elected to the League Best XI, namely Maurinho, Maldonado and Alex, the latter also winning the League Golden Ball.
Player Period Apps Goals Brazil NT Caps Goals World Cup att.
Gomes 2002-04 108 - 12 - 1 (2010)
Maurinho 2003-06 107 5 2 - -
Maicon 2000-04 101 3 77 7 2 (2010, 2014)
Edu Dracena 2003-06 131 11 3 - -
Luisão 2000-03 114 13 47 3 2 (2006, 2010)
Augusto Recife 2002-04 144 2 - - -
Maldonado (Chile) 2003-05 116 4 41 1 -
Alex 2001-04 123 63 51 12 -
Aristizabal (Colombia) 2003-04 80 36 66 15 2 (1994, 1998)
Deivid 2003 37 28 - - -
Mota 2003-04 57 24 - - -
You can see some highlights of the maestro Alex in this video (5mn), but make sure to check this goal, also this one and this one.
2013-14: back-to-back Brazilian League champions
After Cruzeiro's 2003 dream season, they reached the Copa Libertadores final in 2009, traumatically losing the final 1-2 at home to Estudiantes, after opening the score at '51 - they tied the 1st leg 0-0 in Argentina. In 2010, Cruzeiro was the Brazilian League runner-up. On the last league match in 2011, Cruzeiro feared relegation, but won the historical derby against their archrival Atlético Mineiro by the score of 6-1, a derby record. Cruzeiro also won some state leagues here and there, but never managed in their whole history to surpass Atlético Mineiro in overall state league titles - the closest was in 1930, when they had 3 titles each.
In 2013 and 2014 Cruzeiro won back-to-back Brazilian League titles, reaching the number of 4 titles (1966, 2003, 2013, 2014). In 2013, Cruzeiro led 26 of 38 rounds, and had 5 players elected to the League's Best XI: Fábio, Mayke, Dedé, Nilton, and Golden Ball winner, Éverton Ribeiro. In 2014, Cruzeiro led 32 of 38 league rounds, all consecutively since the 6th round - a league record, until 2017 Corinthians (33 leading rounds). Cruzeiro also had 2 players elected to the League's Best XI: Lucas Silva and Golden Ball winner, Ricardo Goulart. Later that season, they had a shot at winning their second national triple crown, but lost the Copa do Brasil final to their archrival Atlético Mineiro (0-2, 0-1).
Highlights to this golaço of Éverton Ribeiro against Flamengo in the 2013 Copa do Brasil.
Player Period Apps Goals
Fábio 2005- 897 -
Dedé 2013- 194 18
Mayke 2013-18 138 3
Egídio 2013-14, 17-19 199 4
Nilton 2013-14 91 11
Lucas Silva 2011-14, 17-19 190 6
Henrique 2008-11, 13-19 521 27
Everton Ribeiro 2013-15 117 24
Ricardo Goulart 2013-14 115 42
Borges 2012-14 75 28
Dagoberto 2013-15 81 23
Marcelo Moreno (Bolivia) 2007-08, 2014, 2020- 103 47
Willian 2013-16 185 40
2017-2018: back-to-back Copa do Brasil champions
In 2017, Cruzeiro won their 5th Copa do Brasil title, with 7W-5D-2L. From the quarter-finals until the title, they won either on penalties or on away goal: against Palmeiras (3-3, 1-1), the qualifying goal came at home with this header at '84, then against Grêmio (0-1, 1-0, p.k. 3-2) with Fábio saving Luan's last penalty, and the final against Flamengo (1-1, 0-0, p.k. 5-3 - no away goal rule), with Fábio saving Diego's penalty.
In 2018, Cruzeiro won their 6th Copa do Brasil title, a national record, with 5W-2D-1L. They beat Athletico in the round of 16 (2-1, 1-1), Santos in the quarter-finals (1-0, 1-2, p.k. 3-0) with Fábio saving all three Santos penalties (Bruno Henrique, Rodrygo, Jean Mota), Palmeiras in the semis (1-0, 1-1), and finally Corinthians in the big final (1-0, 2-1), with this nice chipping last goal from Arrascaeta.
Player Period Apps Goals
Ezequiel 2016-18 70 1
Léo 2010- 380 19
Diogo Barbosa 2017 59 2
Alisson 2012-17 161 22
Rafinha 2016-18 125 11
Robinho 2016-2020 176 23
Rafael Sóbis 2016-18 116 24
Arrascaeta (Uruguay) 2015-18 186 49
In 2019, Cruzeiro went from being title favorites to being relegated to Serie B. Not only the club went through a huge financial/debt crisis, but also the club's expensive players chose not to care about the results - a shameful and enormous disengagement led by Cruzeiro's biggest villain and conspirator, the midfielder Thiago Neves. The club now fights against FIFA-debts punishments and is in the Serie B relegation zone to Serie C.
To this day, Cruzeiro has a fanbase of 7 million supporters, and a stadium attendance average of 24.200, as of 2019.
If you have any questions about Brazilian football, feel free to join us at futebol, where you'll be very welcomed!
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