Uruguay I Division

The first division championship was a carbon copy of many, many other Uruguayan championships. The same as ever – Penarol and Nacional competed with each other and the rest of the league was bellow the grands. The enlargement of the league for a second year meant no direct relegation, but participation in the promotion/relegation play-off of the lowest team and 2nd and 3rd from second division. The question, however, was which club was the lowest… three teams finished at the bottom with 17 points: Rentistas, Liverpool, and Danubio. Goal-difference decided their final places. Danubio took 11th place.

Rentistas finished 13th and last. They tried as much as they could, but won measly 3 matches, tied 11, and lost 10. Had the worst goal record in the league: 16-36. Rentistas scored the least goals and had most ties. Nothing to be proud of – last place meant relegation… elsewhere. In Uruguay – may be. Rentistas was save for another season – Liverpool, a place above in the final table, went to the dreadful play-off and were eventually relegated.

Those three were at the bottom, but really 11 teams of the division fought largely between themselves for a better or worse position.

Huracan Buceo finished 6th which was great for them. They lost 10 matches – the most in the upper half of the table, but thanks to better goal-difference ended well. Their goal-difference was 23-23, which was the 5th best in the league: only 4 clubs finished with positive record! Scoring was not the strong point of the bulk of the league: Bella Vista, 8th in the final table, scored most goals among the bulk – 33 in 24 championship games. Only one other club managed 30 goals – Defensor.

Defensor continued their strong years. Their sensational victory in 1976 made them the 4th most successful club in Uruguay – it was Defensor’s first title, but since the first championship was organized in 1900 only 3 clubs won titles. Wanderers had a total of three, the last won in 1931. Defensor not only became the 4th title winner ever, but the most recent one disturbing the duopoly of Nacional and Penarol. Finishing 4th three years after their winning year meant the club was keeping strong team and holding their place. Kind of… they were no potential title contenders and not really above the rest of league. But steady and after the end of the season their was reward for that.

Defensor finished with 26 points, but were bested by a point by the club sharing the second-best defensive record this season: Fenix.

Bronze medals for Fenix! Excellent season for a club with such a name and colours (violet – representing eternity, and white – purity). This was perhaps their greatest season since foundation in 1916. The club from Capurro more often played second division football – and their titles to this very day are only from winning second division. By 1979 they had 4 – the most recent one was from 1977, meaning they played only a second first division season since their latest promotion. One has to appreciate the bronze medals in the light of that: Fenix, historically, were not even regular first division members. On the pitch they were hardly exciting team – their record suggest stubborn defensive approach: they shared the second-best defensive record in the league, permitting only 18 goals in their net. Not bad, since 10 clubs received 20 or more goals. As for attack… it was not their forte: 23 goals in 24 matches. Less than a goal per match average. 8 clubs scored more. Huracan Buceo scored also 23. Only the bottom three clubs scored less. Yet, Fenix won 10 matches with their brand of football – only two clubs won more games. Apart from Nacional and Penarol, Fenix was the only Uruguayan team winning two-digit number of games in 1979.

As for the 3rd most successful Uruguayan club, Wanderers finished exactly in the middle of the league – 7th.

Hardly a surprise, judging by the squad – only Krasouski is vaguely recognizable name. And he was just an young promise at the time.

Clearly, the league was not impressive – which left the two biggest clubs to fight apart from all others. As ever… The 1970s were lean years for Uruguayan football, players were leaving the country in mass, money were short, political problems of the country affected football, yet, big club are big even when the scale is small and low. Penarol and Nacional together lost less matches than Fenix. Even if only their victories brought points they would have finished way ahead of all others. As it was, Fenix was a very distant 3rd – 11 points behind the 2nd. In short, even when Uruguayan football was in dire straits, Penarol and Nacional were still in separate category , head and shoulders above all others. In their own world, the big clubs experienced their own drama, highs and lows – the strong years of Nacional finished in 1972. After that Penarol was seemingly in much better shape, winning the titles in 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1978. And nothing changed in 1979: Nacional was still shaky and weaker. They won 17 matches, tied 4, lost 3. They shared the second-best defensive record with Fenix – 18 goals – but outscored everybody else: 53 goals. The only club scoring more than 50 goals – a signal, that they were coming back, but were not ready yet.

Silver means nothing to Nacional – only gold counts, but with a team like that silver was quite right. Two established stars, yet, not really big stars – Rodolfo Rodriguez and Denis Milar, plus two up and coming stars – Hugo de Leon and Waldemar Victorino. Compared to the players the rest of the league had, the supremacy of Nacional was obvious. But it was not exceptional squad at all and not ready yet for more.

Penarol had relatively easy year with opponent like current Nacional. 19 wins, 3 ties, and only 2 matches lost. 47 goals was the second-best offensive record in the league, but their defense was much better than any other, allowing 12 goals – 1 goal per 2 games average. All that meant one more title for Penarol, leaving Nacioanl 3 points behind.

No point of even telling the number of titles – suffice to say ‘one more title’. Standing, from left: Fernando Alvez, Walter Olivera, Victor Diogo, Nelson Marcenaro, Lorenzo Unanue, Juan V. Morales

First row: Ernesto Vargas, Mario Saralegui, Ruben Paz, Ildo Maneiro, Venancio Ramos.

And the squad tells why they were winning – it was the best in the country by far. Even without the biggest Uruguayan star of the 1970s Fernando Morena, who left the club to play in Spain for Rayo Vallecano. Alvez rivaled Rodolfo Rodriguez – neither was a truly great goalkeeper, but they were the best at the time. Walter Olivera was the big star with many years ahead of him. Diogo, Saralegui, and Paz were the younger stars, rapidly establishing themselves as leading players. Overall, stronger team than Nacional’s and more important it was relatively young, but experienced squad. If the club was able to keep the players… and succeed internationally… Penarol may have restored the tarnished reputation of Uruguayan football. But… there was immediate obstacle. Penarol were champions, yet, they were not going to represent Uruguay in Copa Libertadores. There is no clear reason for that – the only possibility is that combined record of two or more season was applied – which should have benefited Penarol too. Strangely, the Uruguayan representatives for 1980 Copa Libertadores were Nacional and Defensor. The champions were left out.


Uruguay II Division

Uruguay had familiar season – back to normal, so to say: Penarol and Nacional competed for the title, with everybody else far behind. And as it ever was, it was Montevideo championship all the way – no provincial club in first and second divisions. The Uruguyan championship was seemingly usual league format, yet, with some peculiarities. They involved relegation-promotion and participation in Copa Libertadores. Since the first division was increasing, one team was relegated and two promoted, to make it 14-team league in the next season. Thus, the second division was spurred into action. 10-team league, with specific relegation rule: the combined record of the last two season counted. Made no difference at the end, for Uruguay Montevideo finished last on both accounts: last with 9 points in the regular season, and its combined record was also last – 19 points. Far behind than Alto Peru, which had 28 points. So Uruguay Montevideo was relegated to third division.

At the top it was more complicated. Progreso won the season with 27 points. Miramar finished second with 23 points – the same as La Luz, but with better goal-difference. No other team managed to come near – Rampla Juniors, the most famous so to say club in the second division finished 5th with 18 points.

Rampla Juniors – if names could win, they should have been champions. Alas, the old club ended in mid-table position.

Progreso appeared unquestionable champion, but… no promotion yet. Instead a play-off had to played between the winners of each half of the season – Progreso vs Miramar. Justice prevailed and Progreso won both legs: 3-1 and 3-2.

Progreso won the championship and the promotion.

Miramar had a second chance – promotion/relegation play off against La Luz, the 3rd placed second division team, and Liverpool – 12th in first division. Unless a combined two-season record determined first division relegation, there was no reason Liverpool playing here – Rentistas finished last, 13th, but they was curiously in no danger. Anyhow, Miramar and La Luz opened the mini-tournament with 1-1 draw. Then Liverpool won 2-1 against La Luz and the last match was thorough final – a win of a tie would keep Liverpool in first division. Miramar would get promotion only if they won – which they did: 2-1.

Miramar was promoted to their joy, if only at the second attempt. Miramar was founded in 1906 – most Uruguayan clubs are old and by local standards Miramar was much older one than its immediate rivals – Progreso was founded in 1917; Liverpool – in 1915; and La Luz – later. Yet, Miramar was hardly known outside the country – they were small club. Not only that, money were usually short – Miramar had to merge with Albion and played under the name Albion Miramar between 1876-78. Then the entity was deconstructed back to two clubs. In 1979 Miramar played under its original name, only to merge in June 1980 with Misiones – the logo above belongs to Miramar Misiones: this merger still remains.

At the end, Progreso and Miramar were promoted to first division and Liverpool relegated to the second.

Peru Championship



The Championship group was a drama on another level. Not everything was dramatic, of course – something was predictable and in line with usual outcomes of such championship schemes – at least 2 clubs just went through the motions. They had no real strength to compete for the title and for them seemingly the season finished after the first stage: they managed to get into the championship group, guaranteeing themselves a place in the league for the next season.

Judging by their record in the final stage, Union Hural did not bother at all – they won 1 match, tied 4, and lost 9. With 6 points, they were far behind all other participants. Clearly, for them the championship ended with the first stage – back there, they tied 15 out of 30 matches, got 31 points – one more than poor Leon (Huanaco), and thus achieved untroubled survival.

Similarly, Deportivo Junin did not play for anything in the final stage – they were lucky to get the last spot in the group, thanks to better goal-difference than Leon (Huanuco) and just watched their rivals going down, down, down. It could have been them – but they were safe in the upper group. With nothing to play for, they ended 7th , distinguishing themselves as the club receiving the most goals in their net in the final stage.

Alfonso Ugarte (Puno) was the third club not really interested.

Standing, from left: Roberto Arrelucea, unknown, Néstor Vargas, Jorge Arrelucea, unknown.

First row: Francisco “Pancho” González, Alberto “Pulga” Peña, José Leiva, Marcelo Apaza, Cisterna, Gutiérrez.

Alfonso Ugarte finished 5th in the first stage and 5th in the second. Like Deportivo Junin and Union Huaral, they had no team to speak of. Solid performance in the first stage was seemingly all that mattered for them and once achieving their goal, they took it easy. 13 points placed them at the top of the lower, disinterested half of the final championship group.

Just bellow them finished the team making the championship dramatic. Universitario won confidently the first stage and entered the final stage with 3 bonus points. Even without all that, they were traditional contender and one of the most obvious candidates for the title. But… they had the second worst record in the final group and finished 6th.

The big failure, from left: Víctor “Cacique” Bustamante, Hugo “Cantinflas” Gastulo, Fernando “Gato” Cuéllar, Germán “Cocoliche” Leguía. Ernesto “Chivo” Neyra, Freddy Cañamero, David Zuluaga, Juan José Oré, Percy Vilchez, Eduardo Aguilar, Eusebio “Chevo” Acasuzo.

Perhaps the squad reveals why played so badly – it was not a great team. Not enough class, not enough stars. May be they spent their strength in the first phase, when their rivals played economically. Universitario were a big disappointment. They won only twice in the important tournament. They lost 8 matches – only Union Huaral lost more. May be there was a grim lesson in all that: in championship organized in such format the biggest mistake is to put efforts in the first phase. It spells disaster. The bonus points did not help at all… but what is really mysterious is that at the end Universitario did not get those 3 points from the first stage – the final table tells that they got only 1 point! Why? Who knows… and may be not important, for even with 3 bonus points Universitario would be only 5th, instead of 6th. Hardly a difference.

The other dramatic disappointment was Alianza (Lima) – historically, the prime candidate for the title. Some lack of form was detected in the first phase, where the team finished 4th. Not bad, but they were distant 4th – far behind the winners, not even competing for the 2nd or 3rd place. Still favourites, expected to bloom in the important phase. They did not… once again they finished 4th. Far ahead of the lower half of the championship group, but not contenders at all. 7 tied matches of total 14 – really nothing.

Strange… Alianza had the two world class stars in their team – Cubillas and Sotil. The current most exciting Peruvian player – Cueto. Aging, but still great stars Velazquez, La Rosa. Heroes of two impressive World Cups, still the top players of Peru. The best Peruvian squad, judging by the names. Lack of form must have been the reason – temporary lack of form, not a decline. Yet, disastrous season for Alianza.

Juan Aurich capitalized on their 2 bonus points from the first stage. They kept steady, if not great form in the final phase and finished with bronze medals. Success. Yes, they were not going to play in the Libertadores Cup, but finished ahead of Alianza and Universitario. And for this smaller Peruvian club bronze medals were a big achievement. They had no real strength to run for the title – in both phases of the championship, Juan Aurich competed only for a medal – silver or bronze, either one was great.

Entangled with Juan Aurich in the fight for the second place was an unexpected team – Atletico Chalaco. The first stage did not suggest anything like that – ‘El Leon Porteno’ finished 7th. It was largely a matter of good luck they ended in the championship group and not in the relegation group. There immediate neighbors in the first phase did not bother to do much in the final stage. Atletico Chalaco surprisingly soared and finished 2nd – a point ahead of Juan Aurich, who entered the finals with 2 points advantage. The team excelled in defense – the best in the final tournament – but they were not up to competing for the title.

Surprising heroes, from left: Oscar Arizaga, Félix Suárez, Gonzalo Cayo, Víctor Matías, Víctor “Pichicho” Benavides, Pablo Muchotrigo, Luis Enrique Camacho, José Sierra, Julio Luna, Fernando Apolinario, Augusto Prado.

Atletico Chalaco is largely unknown club to the world, but they are old – founded in 1902 by students of Instituto Chalaco in Callao, hence, the name. Much older by their local rivals Sport Boys, but dwarfed by them long time ago – Sport Boys still ranks the 4th most successful Peruvian club. Atletico Chalaco is not at the same level – they were Peruvian champions twice, but so long ago, that their titles hardly come to mind. Atletico Chalaco were often found in the second level, so playing top flight was counting as success. 1979 was obviously great year for them: it would have been even without finishing that high – they played in the championship group when the enemy, Sport Boys, was in the relegation group – but finishing with silver medals was fantastic. For more they were not capable. But they got the second Peruvian spot in Copa Libertadores – a rare chance for playing big international football.

The final tournament was largely one-horse race – Sporting Cristal, perhaps fresher than all others, won confidently. They did not played large role in the first stage – just staying at the top, but may be conserving their best for the finals. They finished 3rd, not looking very interested in first place. 1 bonus point was some minimal advantage, but the club seemingly did not even need it. Sporting Cristal won 9 of their 14 final matches. They lost only once. No problems in defense, ending with the second best record, but their big strength was attack – the only team scoring more than 20 goals in the final stage. 26 in fact, almost 2 goals per game. 23 points – 4 more than the next club. Easy victory.

Champions again – 4th title and their first since 1972. Sporting Cristal was always fighting for the title, this time they won it easily. And they looked more promising team than Alianza – Chumpitaz, Mifflin, Quiroga, Navarro, Oblitas, Uribe. Alianza was a strong, but aging team. Yesterday’s team, in a sense. Sporting Cristal had great veterans too – Chumpitaz and Mifflin – but their strength was in current and future stars, particularly Uribe. They were clearly going to stay among the best Peruvian clubs, aiming at more tittles. Establishing themselves as one of the top 4 Peruvian clubs.

For they were not that in 1979: big clubs are usually old. Sporting Cristal was young… they were founded in 1955. Yet, their history is curious – before ‘Los Cerveceros’, there was a first division club from the same part of Lima – Sporting Tabacco, founded in 1926 and belonging to the tobacco growers’ union. They had more than modest existence, never won anything, and in the beginning of the 1950s were in deep economic dire straits. Then the owner of Backus and Johnston Brewery, Ricardo Bentin Mujica, bought the club and also bought a lot for a stadium in the neighborhood of La Florida. The old Sporting Tobacco was not merely renamed – instead, a new club under the name Sporting Cristal was founded on December 13, 1955. It was named after the best-known brand of the beer company – to a point, it was convenient advertisement of the company – hence, the nickname of the club – but later club and company were separated somewhat. The new boys debuted in first division immediately – in 1956, no doubt taking the place of Sporting Tobacco. The debut was grand: they won the championship. Starting with a title was impressive, but a new club, no matter how ambitious, had to build reputation. Money were not eveything – Sporting Cristal eventually won more titles, yet, they were not overwhelming. Rather, they managed to stay among the top Peruvian clubs. Their 4th title was won in 1972, and although already considered one of the best clubs in Peru, still had to wait 7 years for the next success. With it perhaps Sporting Cristal finally established itself as one of big clubs of the country – along with Alianza and Universitario. As for relation with Sporting Tobacco, it remains ambiguous – certainly half of the name is taken from the old club. But the foundation date remains 1955, maintaining that there is no connection between the two Sporting. And still it is not complete break: colours were changed in 1955 – the blue of Sporting Tobacco was replaced by sky-blue of Sporting Cristal. But… the old blue was used as home colours between 1978 and 1981 and after that – often as away colours. Of course, there was nothing to be proud of and therefore to claim from the history of Sporting Tobacco – it was much more impressive to win 5 titles in less than 30 years of existence.

Peru I Division First Phase

The first phase of first division practically determined only the clubs proceeding to fight for the title and those trying to avoid relegation. The final positions of the first stage hardly suggest the real final standings – one can expect those finishing bellow 4th place in the first stage to just go through the motions in the second phase and those, who were originally 9th and 10th to be too strong for the relegation group. But it was still very risky prediction, since only the top three clubs carried bonus points to the final stage and only the three lowest clubs started the relegation phase with penalty points. General equality not only rendered the first stage practically meaningless, but also made predictions pointless. Yet, it was expected the big clubs – Alianza, Universitario, Sporting Cristal – to compete for the title. Two clubs were out of the important race – Sport Boys (Callao) and Deportivo Municipal (Lima) finished 10th and 11th , so they went to the relegation group. But all that was only general guessing, based largely on tradition. What must be pointed out is the positions of some clubs in the first stage: Atletico Chalaco (Callao) finished 7th with 31 points – 10 less than the winner of the stage. They managed to tie exactly half of their matches – 15. Certainly not a team able to look for more than lucky escape from relegation zone. Leon (Huanaco), little known club, finished 9th with 30 points and went to relegation zone only because of worse goal-difference than Deportivo Junin (Huancayo). Leon won 12 matches – more than any other club of the lower half of the table, so it was safe to expect them having easy sailing in the relegation group. 15th was Juventud La Palma (Huacho) – without much top league experience and starting the final stage with minus 2 points, they were the most obvious candidate for relegation. Atletico Torino (Talara) was 14th, thus, going to the relegation phase with minus 1 point, and last was Melgar F.B.C. (Arequipa), going to the last stage with minus 3 points. Melgar F.B.C. Were really weak this year – usually they were well placed in the league, so their performance indicated big disaster coming. Well, at least it looked so.

At the top Alianza finished 4th with 33 points. No bonus point for them, but they were usual favourites and could be that they were really saving strength for the really important stage. Sporting Cristal finished 3rd with 35 points – they got 1 bonus point, yet, like Alianza, most likely saved energy for the final stage. Juan Aurich (Chiclayo) finished 2nd with 38 points – the only team seemingly trying to challenge the winners of the first stage. Normally, a club playing in the upper half of the league, but not a real contender. They got 2 bonus points. The winners were familiar: Univeristario de Deportes (Lima).

Universitario were practically the only candidates for the first place – they won it with 3 points more than Juan Aurich, the best defense in the league and the second-best attack. They were also the only club with more the 50% wins in the first stage – 16. For all their efforts, they got 3 bonus points.

Well, nothing really strange – it looked like the battle for the title will be between Universitario, Alianze, and Sporting Cristal, with Universitario having slight advantage of 3 points. They could be all decisive, for Alianza and Sporting Cristal had more famous names in their squads.

The relegation group produced a surprise: Melgar F.B.C. suddenly got fighting spirit and overcome their 3 points starting deficit. They 6 matches, tied 4, and lost 4, finishing with second-best record in the relegation group. With 3 points deducted, they still finished 3rd – 11th in the all-league final table – and safe. Leon (Huanuco) went the opposite direction – after their strong first stage they were expected to avoid relegation rather easily. Leon won 6 matches in the final stage – which was second-best number in the group. But they lost all other games and with 12 points they shared the worst record with CNI (Iquitos). Still, Leon were last for having the worst goal-difference. Juventud La Palma finished just a place above Leon, overcoming 2 points starting deficit. Such big drop of form… it is hard to explain what happened to Leon – nobody expected miracles from them, but they had strong first phase. Did they misjudged the situation and invested all their strength in the first stage? They missed complete safety on goal-difference – it may have been a strategy of the club, ending unlucky. It was not the end of troubles for Leon…

At the top of the relegation group finished expected clubs:

Sport Boys (Callao) were too weak for the upper half of the league, but still too strong for the lower half. They won the relegation group with 17 points, outscoring the other teams by far.

Coronel Bolognesi (Tacna) finished 2nd – thanks to deficit of 3 points Melgar F.B.C. started with. Standing from left: Hector Revoredo, Juan Ayala, Jose Zevallos, Gerardo Baigorra, Luis Advincula, Oscar Vega.

First row: Jorge Zegarra, Oscar Herrera, Victorino Vicente, Jose Carranza, Juan Tardio.

For a club with checkered history, having a squad without recognizable players is expected, but they achieved their goal – to remain in the first division.

And so did Atletico Torino (Talara) – they finished 4th in the group.

There is a little mystery about this photo, taken by local photo-studio ‘William’ – if it is from 1979, then the inserted text is wrong. On the other hand, it may be dated wrongly. But the boys preserved a place in first division and that was all that mattered in 1979.

Deportivo Municipal struggled to the end. Now, that is a club expected to run for the title, but this was a lean year and relegation was more than mere threat. 13 points was all they got in the relegation group, which was a point more than the worst. Safe at last…

Standing, from left: Víctor Corbacho, Roberto “Titín” Drago, Duilio Poggi, Julio Caycho, Raúl Obando, Humberto Horacio Ballesteros.

Crouching: Julio Argote, Adehmir Arroé, Franco Navarro, Raúl Gorriti, Roberto Zevallos.

Well, the squad tells the story – for whatever reason, Deportivo Municipal had no big names. Lucky to escape relegation.

Which was not decided with the end of regular second stage. Three clubs finished with 12 points. Goal-difference was waved and the bottom three were directed to relegation play-off – a mini round-robin tournament. Colegio Nacional (Iquitos) – usually written CNI, Juventud La Palma (Huacho), and Leon (Huanaco). Tough life to the end… finally CNI gathered enough strength and determination and won their both matches.

Survivors, standing from left: Rufino Bernales, Pedro Cajo, Bernaola, Vargas, Lizandro Navarro, Manuel Toyco.

First row: Martín Gago, Andrés Zegarra, Almonte, Juan Rubianes, Henry Perales.

So, relegation was decided in the direct match between Leon and Juventud La Palma. Leon lost… what a failure: from almost going to play in the championship group to plummeting down to second level football.

What a sad story were the Lions in 1979. Instead of fighting for the title – relegated.


Peru II Division

Peru had more comprehensible championship than most South American countries, yet, still two-phased affair. At the first stage, it was standard league format – 16 clubs playing 30 rounds. After that the top 8 entered the second stage as championship group, playing 14 rounds and the bottom 8 formed relegation group, also playing 14 rounds. One team was relegated. Such structures never satisfy no matter the rules: if teams carry their points from the first stage, then a whole bunch of clubs have nothing to play for in the second and only go through the motions. If everything begins anew, then the first stage is meaningless for the top clubs. No matter which way is chosen, such championships are open for various schemes and corruption – and often the best schemer benefits at the end. Peru chose a variety of the starting anew – no points were carried over from the first stage, except for bonus points awarded to top three – depending on their place, 3,2, and 1 point. At the bottom, penalty points wee taken away from the last three teams, also depending on position – the last had 3 points deducted in the second phase and the 14th – 1. So, the first league really played largely to form the two final groups and only the leaders had some minimal advantage. The losers in the first phase entered with slight disadvantage the relegation group, yet,what mattered most was still how the teams played in the final stage.

Peru had no second division – instead, the winners of the regional championships played promotional tournament, also called Copa Peru. Like most South American countries, Peru had no parallel national cup tournament and Copa Peru had little significance in itself – the importance of winning it was the promotion to first league. Copa Peru went through many stages with teams from the 24 country’s departments, until the final 6 moved to the final round-robin, played in Lima. This year only one participant had familiar name – Defensor (Lima). At least on paper, it looked like they would win promotion. In reality it was different. The final table will provide the home cities and departments. 1. Asociación Deportiva (Tarma, Junin) 8 – 5 – 3 – 2 – 0 – 5 – 1

2. Aguas Verdes (Zarumilla, Tumbes) 7 – 5 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 9 – 2

3. Defensor Lima (Lima, Lima) 5 – 5 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 8 – 6

4. Garcilaso (Cuzco, Cuzco) 5 – 5 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 8 – 6

5. Universidad Técnica (Cajamarca, Cajamarca) 5 – 5 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 3

6. Centenario (Ayacucho, Ayacucho) 0 – 5 – 0 – 0 – 5 – 1 – 16

Centenario was out of their depth, obviously – they lost every match they played. Defensor Lima failed to impress.

Deportivo Centenario (Ayacucho) – perhaps just happy to be at the finals and nothing else.

Garcilaso (Cuzco) – neither good, nor bad, right in the middle. Standing from left: Rolando Echegaray, Fernando Valencia, José Elguera, “Arbolito” Gonzáles, Robinson Astete, Wilfredo Valencia.

First row: Marco Echegaray, Percy Huamán, Miguel Arapa, Javier Ugaz,el “Cóndor” Sergio Hinojosa.

The battle for promotion was really between unknowns:

Aguas Verdes, hailing from a city often flooded by the very river waters giving the club’s name, missed promotion by a point. They scored most goals in the tournament and ended with the best goal-difference. Small consolation.

The winners did not lose even a match and that was the secret of success, for they were not great scorers. One point more than Aguas Verdes and ADT won the tournament, Copa Peru and the single promotion.

Going to first league: standing, from left: Nicolás Miranda, Alberto Marticorena, Rowland Chumpitaz, Alejandro Mujica, Gonzalo Ginocchio, José Chacaltana.

First row: Luis Camacho, Juan Zapata, Carlos Gutiérrez, Angel Fuentes, Carlos Gavidia.

Asociacion Deportiva – more often just abbreviated to ADT (Asociacion Deportiva de Tarma) – were founded in 1929, but little known. They never played first division before. As for the squad – no familiar names here, as expected. This was their biggest success at the time – winners of Copa Peru for the first time and promoted to the top league.

That was then – Copa Peru still exists, but now it equals third division championship. So far ADT never won it again.


Chile I Division


The First Division of Chile had exactly the same format and rules as the lower division: Campeonato Apertura – called ‘Copa Polla Gol’ first, giving 2 bonus points to the winner and 1 bonus point to losing finalist and semi-finalist, followed by standard Campeonato Oficial, where a bonus point was given to any winning team, who scored 4 or more goals. The last two teams in Campeonato Oficial were relegated and the 15th and the 16th had to play promotion/relegation mini-league with the 3rd and 4th in the second division. Another mini-league, consisting of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th finishers of Campeonato Oficial was to determine the second Chilean participant in Copa Libertadores. Busy season.

The Apertura was a bit strange – the 18 first division teams were divided into 4 groups. Three of them had 4 teams, the fourth – 6. Why? There is no apparent logic in such division – may be weaker teams were bunched together with mighty Colo-Colo and Universidad de Chile in the 4th group. May be. Anyhow, the big clubs had no problem qualifying. Aviacion lost their chance to go to ¼ finals by a point. Universidad Catolica and Palestino qualified from Group 1, Union Espanola and Cobreloa from Group 2, and Concepcion and Naval from Group 3. The latter were seemingly the weakest among the quarter-finalists and were eliminated. Cobreloa and Colo-Colo went into extra-time in the1/2 finals – at last Colo-Colo scored the only goal in the game. In the other semi-final Union Espanola lost 1-2 to Universidad de Chile. Cobreloa and Union Espanola got a bonus point each and the two biggest Chilean clubs went to decide who gets 2 bonus points. Universidad de Chile managed 2-1 victory again.

Colo-Colo – what was worse? Losing a cup, losing to their bitterest enemy, or losing a bonus point?

Universidad de Chile – proud winners of Apertura – or Copa Polla-Gol – and 2 points. Well, if anything, it was great to beat Colo-Colo.

The real thing started after the rather meaningless Apertura. It should be said right away that no team won a match scoring 4 or more goals, so no further bonus points were awarded. The carriers of bonus points from the Apertura proved to be the strongest Chilean teams this season, yet, the extra points helped no one, so they were good for nothing. Three clubs were hopeless outsiders. Nublense were the worst of the bunch and finished last with 19 points. Goal-difference decided the second directly relegated club. Santiago Morning and Santiago Wanderers both finished with 21 points. Santiago Morning took the unfortunate 17th place because they had the worst goal-difference in the whole league: 33-72. Santiago Wanderers ended 16th, but there was still danger – they had to play in the promotion/relegation mini-league. 15th finished Audax Italiano – they lost a race against 4 other clubs and also had to play at the promotion/relegation mini-league. Everton finished unusually low, but safe – 14th – with 29 points, two more than Audax Italiano. The other three survivors were lowly clubs happy to escape relegation:

Naval was 13th with 30 points.

Lota Schwager – 12th with 31 points, and Aviacion – 11th with 32 points.

Standing, from left: Luis Linderos, Roberto Hodge, Eduardo Peralta, Humberto Martinez, Avelino Albornoz, Roberto ‘Condor’ Rojas.

Crouching: Julio Garcia, Selvin Pennant, Eleodoro Cornejo, Victor Solar, Eduardo Diaz.

Perhaps Aviacion finished well bellow expectation, for unlike the other outsiders, the club had a bunch of good players – Eduardo Peralta played 4 years in Mexico, Selvin Pennant is one of the most prolific goalscorers ever of Guatemala and played for her national team 11 years, Roberto Hodge – a legend of Chilean football, who played 38 games for the national team between 1964 and 1977. True, Hodge was 35 years old, but still a few years away of retirement. And finally there was emerging young star – the 22-years old goalkeeper Roberto ‘Condor’ Rojas. He debuted for Aviacion in 1976 and made strong impression, although his greatest – and lowest – days were still ahead: he played 69 games for Chile between 1983 and 1989, when his career ended prematurely. Trying to prevent a loss of the national team, he deliberately injured himself – the incident resulted in lifetime ban for him and one world cup ban for Chile. At the time Rojas played for Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the end of his playing days turned him to coaching – eventually, he coached the al-time top scorer among the goalkeepers, Rogerio Ceni. All that was in the distant future, but with him and the other strong players Aviacion should have been better in 1979.

Not that they were the only club running low.

Universidad Catolica had weak year and finished 10th. Palestino, the champions in 1978, also were down and finished 8th.

The strong clubs were those distinguishing themselves in Campeonato Apertura. With a little difference. O’Higgins was also in the top group, of which 4 teams were fairly equal and fought for everything but the title. O’Higgins was bumped to 5th place by the bonus points Univesidad de Chile carried from Apertura and finished 5th with 43 points. Universidad de Chile got 4th place for they had worse goal-difference than Union Espanola. Union Espanola continued their good spell – bronze medals this time. But the established names were beaten by rapidly rising newcomer – Cobreloa (Calama).

If their first ever season in first division was considered perhaps due to surprise and enthusiasm, in their second year Cobreloa proved that they were not one-time wonder. Just to make their point, they destroyed O’Higgins 10-0 in Apertura. Cobreloa earned one point more than their rivals – 45 – and finished 2nd for a second consecutive season. Two years in Primera Division – two silver medals. Cobreloa clearly was going to be a big factor in Chilean football.

Still, Cobreloa was not ready yet to really run for the title. 1979 was the year of revival for Colo-Colo. They lost the final of Apertura, but easily outplayed everybody in Campeonato Nacional. 23 wins, 8 ties, only 3 losses, 72-24 goal-difference – best in everything. 55 points – Cobreloa was very distant second with 45 points. Colo-Colo was supreme. At last.

Standing from left: Leonel Herrera, Oscar Wirth, Daniel Díaz, Mario Galindo, Eddio Inostroza, Atilio Herrera.

First row: Ramón Mané Ponce, Carlos Rivas, Carlos Caszely, Severino Vasconcellos , Leonardo Véliz.

Colo-Colo won Primera Division for 12th time, but the previous title was quite long time ago. Hard to tell how much the crisis Colo-Colo experienced in the mid-1970s was a result of politics. Their last title was won in 1972, when Allende was still President. The most popular club in the country was somewhat leaning to the left – at least many of its supporters, some of the players, the star Carlos Caszely very vocally. The great team reached the final of Copa Libertadores in 1973 – then suddenly collapsed. Well, General Pinochet came to power, Allende shot himself, many run away into exile, including football players. Including Caszely, who went to Spain. Colo-Colo not only did not win anything – they were becoming rather mediocre. Time passed, the country settled under the military rule, the turbulent days were over, there was even sense of economic improvement – felt in the football world by the rising clubs from mining town Cobreloa and Cobresal. May be Colo-Colo also benefited in some way. Carlos Caszely came back from Espanol (Barcelona) in 1978. There were some other good players in the squad – Mario Galindo, b. 1951, who was part of the Chilean 1974 World Cup squad. Adolfo Nef (b. 1946), one of the best Chilean goalkeepers of the late 1960s and the 1970s, and also part of the 1974 World Cup team, was between the posts. Carlos Rivas, b. 1953, represented the next talented generation – and was to play at the 1982 World Cup finals. Two new players arrived in 1979 – Oscar Wirth, b. 1955, who immediately relegated Nef to the bench, and, like Rivas, was to be part of the 1982 World Cup squad; and Brazilian midfielder right from Inter (Porto Alegre) – Severino Vasconcelos (b. 1950). Vasconcelos was not a star in Brazil, but had plenty of experience. In Colo-Colo, he was just right – he controlled the midfield and organized the game. He more or less spurred the team and was instrumental for the great season. His presence was so important the club kept him 6 years – Vasconcelos was 29 when arrived and he finally moved to Barcelona (Ecuador) in 1985, he was 35 years old. To a point, the revival of Colo-Colo happened thanks to him and Caszely, who was exactly the same age. Anyhow, Colo-Colo came back with a bang.

But the season was not finished yet. There was the mini-league for the second Libertadores spot. It went in two stages – single-match round robin tournament first, followed by play-off between the top two teams. O’Higgins and Universidad de Chile finished 1st and 2nd. Cobreloa lost all their three matches, unable to score even single goal. The play-off was won by O’Higgins 1-0.

The other mini-league had different concerns – promotion/relegation. Just a regular single-match round-robin. Santiago Wanderers and Audax Italiano from First Division and Arica and Independiente from Second Division. All was practically decided in the 2nd round, when the first division clubs met those from the lower level and won. The 3rd round was carefully played for scoreless ties and the status quo was preserved. The first division clubs finished at the top with 4 points each. Arica got 3, Independiente – 1.

Lucky boys – after suffering and lots of fret, Santiago Wanderes kept their place among the best. The lovely city of Valparaiso was not going to suffer second division football. Nor La Florida, the hometown of Audax Italiano. At least for one more year.


Chile II Division

Chile, like most South American countries, had strangely organized championship – two championships really, but connected somewhat. Campeonato Apertura was similar to the format used in Argentina and Brazil: the league was subdivided into 4 groups, where the teams played two-legged round-robin tournament. The top two teams proceeded to next stage, run in standard cup format of direct elimination from quarterfinals to the final. But the winners hardly benefited – Apertura was not separate championship. Only bonus points were carried on to Campeonato Oficial: 2 points for the winner and 1 point for the losing finalist and semi-finalists. In the Second Division bonus points were also awarded to those winners who scored 4 or more goals in Campeonato Oficial. The winners of that championship, run like standard league, were the champions of the season. Two teams were directly relegated and promoted, but there was a promotion/relegation mini-league too – the 15th and the 16th from First Division and the 3rd and 4th from Second Division played in it. Lastly, there was a mini-league, deciding the second Chilean participant in Copa Libertadores: the teams finishing right behind the champion – from 2nd to 5th place – in Campeonato Oficial competed. Apertura counted for almost nothing, which is confusing: normally, only the final table of Campeonato Oficial is seen, so not many people know the whole complexity and wonder where extra points came from. Chilean football was busy affair taking the whole year and every club played lots of games – perhaps on the level of the English clubs and certainly much more than most European clubs. It was orderly championship and Chilean football was on ascent – may be the only one improving in South America , although the quality was still much lower than football in Brazil and Argentina. But it was a saner scene, compared to the financial chaos in Brazil and Argentina, and organizational chaos in Brazil.

Second Division – 20 teams participated in it, the last was doomed to relegation, and the top too getting direct promotion. Apertura did not matter – fighting for survival was concentrated in Campeonato Oficial. Intersetingly, one club did not play in Apertura – Deportes Iquique. Note the name. Why they did not play in the opening phase would be anybody’s guess. One other club should be mentioned – Rangers (Tacna). They had miserable first phase, finishing with 5 points – 6 less than the 2nd placed Union Calera. The top two in each of the 4 groups qualified for the ¼ finals, then the winners went to the ½ finals, and at the end Huachipato prevailed 1-0 over Ovalle at the final and won the Apertura. Huachipato won… and what exactly they won? 2 bonus points. Ovalle and the losing semi-finalists Arica and San Luis got 1 bonus point each. Not exactly meaningful advantage when 38 championship games laid ahead. Apertura perhaps was giving some idea who was in strong from this year, but such things are never certain – Rangers had weak Apertura, Independiente worse, Huachipato – strong, Iquique – none. So what? In Campeonato Oficial some stayed strong, some sunk , others improved, and still others were more or less the same. Predictions and expectations vs reality. And reality was Campeonato Oficial where promotion and relegation were.

Second Division does not attract attention and since Chilean clubs are not well known, the wisdom goes that the lower level must be entirely anonymous. Not so – there were clubs with great past and others fairly known – like Huachipato, the Chilean champion of 1974. Rangers (Tacna) was also a club normally playing in first division. Lesser known, yet known, clubs were also found in the league:

Deportes La Serena



Clubs moving up and down – the ‘unsettled’ category, present in every country.

Most league members did not ring any bell – if they had better days, those were in distant past.

San Antonio Unido

Ferroviarios (Santiago)

Trasandino (Los Andes)

Iberia (Los Angeles)

And the rest were entirely unknown – that is, the typical second division clubs.

Colchagua (San Fernando) was one of those – clubs mostly happy to play at this level, which was high achievement for them.

A league like that is usually dominated by the clubs ‘in between’ – too strong for this league, but too weak for the best league. It was not exactly the case here, but still comes close. Five clubs were in close pursuit during Campeonato Oficial, four of which played often first division football. Two of them were carrying bonus point from Apertura – Arica and San Luis. Not only the bonus points helped no one, but not a single team managed to get extra point for scoring 4 or more goals this year. Three teams fought bitterly for survival at the bottom – Linares finished last with 24 points. Union San Felipe was lucky 19th with 25 and Curico Unido – 18th with 26 points. But Linares was also happy… the league was extended to 22 clubs for the next season and relegation was revoked. At the top, bad luck for San Luis (Quilota) – thanks to their bonus point from Apertura, they finished with 48 points – equal with Independiente (Cauguenes). Unfortunately for them, Independiente was the second best scoring team this year, which resulted in better goal-difference. San Luis finished 5th, Independiente got a chance for promotion.

With 49 points – thanks to their bonus point – Arica finished 3rd. They also scored the most goals in the league – 76.

Magallanes (Santiago) finished 2nd with 51 points and got direct promotion. Returning to top flight was excellent news for the fading club: may be a revival at last? Hope never dies.

The champions of the league managed a three-point lead at the end. 23 wins, 8 ties, and 7 losses. They were outscored by Arica and Independiente and Magallanes had better defensive record, but what mattered was points and 54 nobody else had. The champion was not a famous club like Magallanes, but no stranger to first division either – they played modest role in it before.

And here they are – the proud champions of Chilean second division 1979: Deportes Iquique. Going up. Note their sponsor – it seems Chile was the South American leader in introducing shirt adds. Even second division clubs had sponsors and in this case a famous one: Sony in second division? No more.

Indepenediente and San Luis still had to play promotion/relegation tournament and kept hopes going up too, but so far Deporteas Iquique and Magallanes were the happy winners.


Ranking Paraguayan championship third is ambiguous, but this was a year of success – perhaps the best ever year of that country. Both on club and national team level Paraguayan teams conquered the world, there was exciting young star everybody was talking about. Curiously, it was also an year which practically left no information – even the final table is impossible to find.

Julio Cesar Romero, 19 years old midfielder of Sportivo Luqueno was the huge name – this year he became huge international star, adoring fans already nicknamed him Romerito and he led Paraguay to victory at Copa America. He rivaled Maradona – for many was even better, which may have been justified assessment, for Maradona was still trying to get a place in the Argentina national team and Romero not only was regular player for Paraguay, but was winning too. He debuted in 1977 for Sportivo Luqueno in his native city of Luque, but – just like Maradona in his earliest years – did not win a title. 1979 was the last year he played in Paraguay – the same year he signed with Cosmos (New York) and returned to his native land and original club after more than 10 years. Stangely, it is very difficult to find a photo of his early years – the one above is from 1979, perhaps shortly before moving to USA.

The big young star was unable to make Sportivo Luqueno a winner – there was a team at its prime at the same time conquering the world – and Paraguay as well. Yet, very little can be said about this season…

Nacional won the Second Division and was promoted. To a point, it is even strange that they were playing second division football – hardly known outside Paraguay, Nacional is one of the oldest, biggest, and most successful clubs. May be after a spell of misfortune they were coming back – for the moment, only returning to first division football.

One expects the usual suspects playing big role in the championship:

Cerro Porteno, or, if they failed for some reason, perhaps

Guarani. Yet, neither was a factor this year, it seems. Still, Paraguay – like many countries all around the world – was dominated by the clubs from the capital. Sportivo Luqueno was – and is – practically the only provincial club challenging Asuncion’s monopoly. But it was not them fighting for the title – it was once again a club from the capital: Sol de America.

Apparently, good season for the club founded in 1909 in Barrio Obrero – runners up. Without a final table, it is impossible to guess did they really fought for the title or were they distant second, really overcoming only Cerro Porteno and the rest. So far, Sol de America never won the championship, so may be the big clubs were really weak this year – except one.

Champions were Olimpia – nothing strange and even entirely in line with their fantastic year in which they won Copa Libertadores and a few months later – the Intercontinental Cup. Olimpia was more or less presented earlier and little additional information is needed here. Olimpia won their 25th title – Cerro Porteno was distant second with 19 titles. Olimpia was also going through their most successful domestic period – this was still unknown, though. What was known was business as usual.

Familiar champions, sporting still rare in South America sponsor adds on their shirts.

Olimpia did not always use adds, it appears here, but more interesting is their tactical scheme – a variation of the dominant in the 1970s despite total football 4-3-3. Two full back staying deeply back, supported by defensive midfielder, and quite standard attacking line. Nothing innovative really – and the squad itself was standard, even conservative: Olimpia used 22 players, the usual number at the time, but in terms of South America, where transfer rules were lax and teams changed players often, thus listing at the end of the season large number of players used, Olimpia appeared at least stubborn.

And here is the full squad of the Paraguayan, South American, and world’s champions of 1979.


Brazil Championship

Yet, when all is said and done, the national championship stays as the pinnacle of the season – structurally and historically. To trace the tournament is confusing hell of a job – many stages, from which emerged winners going to the next round, but also teams which did not play, or ranked low, yet, going ahead. 14 clubs got direct byes from the beginning – the reason is beyond explanation: one can imagine favours to the big boys Botafogo, Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, and Fluminense, but in the same group are clubs like AA Francana, if you ever heard of such club. Most were of the same caliber, but the favoured clubs represented only two states – Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. So, at the end, it was still the big boys favoured. Stage after stage, group after group, the championship crawled and meandered ahead – some times 8 out 10 participants in a group moved to the next level; sometimes only one… until the semi-finals were reached. Cortiba vs Vasco da Gama and Internacional vs Palmeiras. Up to this point Coritiba and Internacional played 19 matches each, Vasco da Gama – 10, and Palmeiras – only 3! Privileges are privileges, but… what kind of championship is one in which the champion would play less games than the team at the very bottom? If Palmeiras won, it would have been with a total of 7 games – Guara, 94th, the last in the ‘final table’ played 8.

Guara left no visual trace of itself, but the team just above them did – Chapecoense was 93rd in the unofficial final table.

Here they are, the weakest this year. It meant nothing, though – there was no relegation and the final table tells mostly the full list of participants. Chapecoense ended with 2 points, one more than Guara. Goytacaz also had 2 points (and played one match less than Chapecoense), but took 58th place – they started the competition in a later round than Chapecoense, which was taken into account.

Luck, relative form, priorities, neglect… all contributed to the final ranking. Lowest of the big names was Sport (Recife) – 92nd. Highest of the small fry – Operario: 5th.

Since there are many clubs named Operario, it must be added that this one hails from Campo Grande and also won the state championship of Mato Grosso do Sul for the first time. Not bad on national scale either – even when it counts for nothing.

But 90 participants did not matter even for mentioning at the time of the semi-finals. After all trials and tribulations, the last four were more than familiar – reestablishing what the world knew about Brazilian football: familiar names, therefore, big clubs were really stronger than the rest.

Vasco da Gama managed 1-1 tie in the first match, visiting Coritiba, and extracted 2-1 victory at home. Tough semi-final, but all good at the end.

Coritiba, the least famous of the semi-finalists, fought bravely, but no luck. One goal – the difference between life and death. If they scored equalizer in Rio de Janeiro, they should have been finalists. Unlucky.

Palmeiras had it worse – they lost their home match to Inter. 2-3 – not much, but home loss, putting them to disadvantage for the second leg. Falcao scored twice for the enemy. In the second leg Palmeiras tried as much as they could – or Inter was overcareful, preferring to keep their small advantage. A 1-1 tie eliminated Palmeiras – more or less, as expected after they lost the first match.

Standing, from left: Rosemiro, Gilmar, Beto Fuscão, Ivo, Polozzi, Soter.

Crouching: Amilton Rocha, Jorge Mendonça, Toninho, Pires, Nei.

One of the best Brazilian clubs of the 1970s, traditional powerhouse – to a point, Palmeiras still stayed very strong. Rosemiro, Gilmar, Beto Fuscao, Polozzi – all national team material. Jorge Mendonca – the big star of the team and one who made strong impression at the 1978 World Cup. Strong, good, but somehow not as strong as the squad of two-three years back. The stars were not exactly first class stars – unlike the champions of the previous team. Football is unfair and unpredictable, but judging by the team, Palmeiras was just good to reach the semi-finals and no more. Fair, it seems.

The final was also two-legged affair – opening on December 20, 1979 in Rio de Janeiro. It was the end… for the hosts. Chico Spina scored twice for Inter, the home team achieved nothing. It was hardly possible to imagine Vasco overcoming the odds… they did not. Inter won the second leg too – 2-1. Jair and Falcao scored for Inter; Wilsinho – the only goal Vasco managed. It was great to win the title in front of the home crowd .

Standing, from left: Orlando, Leao, Gaucho, Iva, Paulinho, Paulo Cesar.

First row: Catinha,Paulo Roberto,Roberto Dinamite,Zé Mário,Wilsinho.

Close close to winning the title and no more. With Roberto Dinamite and Leao, Vasco seemed strong enough and they did not lose a match before the final. Then again perhaps there squad was the reason for losing – two big stars and nothing much. Perhaps a prime example of making of Brazilian club at the time: players moved often. Instead of careful building of a strong team, most clubs preferred to sign a big star, hoping that a single man would produce a miracle. As a result, even the best players were scattered among many clubs – none really strong, for the rest of the squad was not great. Vasco da Gama had two great players – and difficult, moody Leao certainly was not going to last, as he did not in his previous clubs – and that was good enough to propel them to the final, yet, not winning it. Others did less – Flamengo with Zico finished 12th. Corinthians, having the new Brazilian magician Socrates, did not even play in the national championship.

As for the champions, life was sweet – unbeaten champions of Brazil. They played a total of 23 matches – more than any other participating club – of which they won 16 and tied 7. Scored 40 goals and allowed only 13 in their net. It was their third Brazilian title, which made them the most successful club on national level so far. Back in 1971, when the national championship was organized for the first time at least outside Brazil no one would imagine Inter so successful – Santos, Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense, Sao Paulo, Vasco da Gama were the grand names. May be Corinthians, may be Palmeiras, may be even Gremio … but not Inter. And so far Inter had more titles than the trully big names combined. And more recent success than their rival Palmeiras -they won their 2 titles in 1972 and 73. Inter – 1975, 76, and now 79. Their first two came under the coaching of Rubens Minelli – so far, the most successful coach on national level with three consecutive titles (1975,76, and 1977 coaching Sao Paulo) . Their third was won under the guidance of 61-years old Enio Andrade – hardly an innovator at that age, but strategic-minded coach. The team was impressive: Valdomiro, Batista, Mario Sergio, Mauro Galvao, Jair… they had valuable imported goalkeeper – the 27-years old Paraguayan Jose de la Cruz Benitez, who already was twice champion with Olimpia (Asuncion). But the greatest of all was younger player the world did not hear much about yet: Falcao. He was already great – and scored three goals in the semi-finals and the finals. Unlike the rest of the new generation of great Brazilian players like Socrates, Falcao was winning. The secret of Inter was collectivity – unlike almost any other Brazilian club, Inter was building a team to last and did not depend on fly-by-night superstars. It was noticed at the time, although not exactly as a positive example: Inter was found lacking fantasy and playing bland tactical and disciplined football – too European for Brazil’s taste. But it was successful brand of football and it was the cradle of Brazilian football – Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, or Belo Horizonte – but the distant Southern city of Porto Alegre triumphing as the the most successful in the country crazy about the game. Internacional had excellent season by all accounts. Rio Grande do Sul ruled. And still does: to this very day Inter is the only club winning the title undefeated. Most likely an eternal record.



So difficult to measure success and fame – of course, many Brazilian clubs were traditional powerhouses in their native states and also participated regularly in the national championship, alas, barely noticed. Yet, sometimes they performed stronger than famous clubs… but in the vast river of Brazilian football that meant almost nothing…

Colorado – strong in their state, but ranked 31st in the national championship this season.

Brasilia – hailing from weak part in terms of football, 73rd in the national championship, but compared to famous Santos, not even playing at national level?

Gama – champions of Distrito Federal. Coming straight from the capital of Brazil, yet a club which was internationally kind of heard of years later – in the 1990s. 48th in the 1979 national championship.

Ferroviario – once again champions of Ceara. 69th in the national championship.

It is impossible to measure what was more important – local success or national one. One thing was to win the championship of, say, Distrito Federal, but quite another to win the Paulista championship. Yet, they were championships on equal level. It could be said that famous clubs often put more effort in their state championship and neglected the national one. Or compensated weak national performance with local success – or the other way around.

Bahia – five consecutive titles at home. 50th in the national championship.

And what about Gremio?

Winners of the tough Gaucho championship, full of stars: Paulo Cesar Lima, Dirceu, Ancheta, Baltazar, Tarciso, Vantuir… Eder on his way to become a world famous star… ever present Manga adding one more title to his name… certainly a strong team, stronger than most. 22nd in the national championship… in any other country such place meant second division… in Brazil it meant Gremio was much weaker than Uberlandia, 9th, a club nobody heard of… or so it seems. The failure on national scale was pushed aside… the importance of winning Gaucho championship emphasized… and may be rightly.