In common with many South American nations, Paraguay lives and breathes the beautiful game. Leading the way in the popularity stakes are the country's two biggest sides, Olimpia and Cerro Porteno, yet only the latter can call themselves El Club del Pueblo (The People's Club).
FIFA.com takes a closer look at a sporting institution that, a century on from its founding, remains embedded in the heart of Asuncion's working-class Obrero neighbourhood, and loyal to those values that brought it into existence.
Birth of an institution
On 1 October 1912, a group of friends who regularly played football together near the San Juan Chapel in Asuncion decided to set up a neighbourhood club. Susana Nunez, mother to four of the youngsters, hosted the meeting at her humble home, where the budding footballers often met before and after games. That day saw the birth of Cerro Porteno Foot-Ball Club, which quickly became known as El Club del Pueblo.
The club's roots epitomise the core values that the Cerro faithful have always looked for in their heroes: fighting spirit and unity. Its name came from a famous battle in 1811, when Paraguayan troops gallantly repelled an invasion by Porteño forces from the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires. The hill close to where the battle took place, the Cerro Mbae, was subsequently renamed Cerro Porteno in honour of the Guaraníes' heroic resistance. Meanwhile, the club's colours of blue and red represent the founders' desire to unite the two rival factions, the Liberales and the Colorados, which have historically fought for control over Paraguay.
Making of a legend
It is worth mentioning that these colours were also worn by Paraguay in their early international encounters, until, in 1920, an Albirroja (white and red) jersey was created specifically for the national side.
It took Cerro just one year to win their first championship, in 1913, but it was their achievements of 1918 that led to their other well-known nickname of El Ciclón (The Cyclone). Having finished the season level on points with Nacional, a play-off was needed to separate the two title rivals.
On the back of two drawn games (2-2 and 1-1), Nacional held what appeared to be an unassailable 2-0 lead with just five minutes on the clock in the third match. In a veritable whirlwind finish, Cerro stormed back to score four times and clinch the championship in dramatic style.
Yet Cerro's fiercest rivals have always been Olimpia. The first meeting between the two sides ended in a 2-2 draw in 1913, though it would take until the 1920s for the pair's rivalry to really take off, an era in which El Ciclón and El Decano (The Seniors) share five consecutive title wins. The duo have since continued in much the same fashion, to the point where they are now indisputably Paraguay's biggest clubs.
It was Cerro who took the honour of winning the first league title in the professional era in 1935, and though they remain behind Olimpia in terms of titles won, they have shown a remarkable level of consistency over the years. In addition to two golden periods in the 1970s and 1990s, with five and four league title triumphs respectively, El Ciclón finished ahead of the pack once in the 1930s, three times in the 1940s, twice in the 1950s, three times in the 1960s, once in the 1980s, and thrice more since the turn of the century.
The largest thorn in El Club del Pueblo's side is the Copa Libertadores de America, a trophy they are yet to lift despite reaching the last four on five occasions and taking part no fewer than 32 times - the fourth-most appearances of any team. And while Cerro are an established force on the continental scene, having embarked on 13 consecutive Libertadores campaigns between 1990 and 2002, what really hurts their supporters is that Olimpia have raised the coveted trophy aloft on three occasion, earning them the nickname El Rey de Copas (The Cup Kings).
The centennial could not have started better for El Ciclón as, led by Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati, they won the Torneo Apertura in their final game against Olimpia. The Superclásico, won 2-1 with goals from Santiago Salcedo and Jonathan Fabbro, not only gave Cerro Porteno the 29th title of their history, but also a much-wanted ticket for the Copa Libertadores 2013.
Though the venue's official name is the Estadio General Pablo Rojas, in tribute to the club president who initiated the stadium's construction, it is known throughout South America as La Olla (The Cauldron). Built in the mid-1970s, it was renovated in 1991 and currently has a capacity of 32,000.
29 Paraguayan titles: 1913, 1915, 1918, 1919, 1935, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1950, 1954, 1961, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2004, 2005, Apertura 2009, Apertura 2012
*The honours listed above are considered to be the club’s major titles and, as such, are not intended to be a full list of achievements.
Sinforiano Garcia, Dario Jara Saguier, Justiniano Enciso, Carlos Jara Saguier, Pablito Rojas, Cesar Luis Ortiz Aquino, Carlos Gamarra, Roberto Cabanas, Saturnino Arrua, Roberto Fernandez, Guido Alvarenga, Carlos Baez, Domingo Salcedo