Champions of the Copa América in 1953, Paraguay were back at the top of South-American football after the 1979 tournament, that had reached its 31st edition. With a squad mounted with young talents, the likes of Júlio Cesar, Romero, a.k.a Romerito, and Roberto Cabañas, alongside celebrated players, such as keeper Roberto Fernández and Carlos Kiese, Paraguay won the trophy after beating Chile in the final match.
Once again, the Copa América was held without a fixed venue, as in 1975, and once more the three major football powers fell before doing battle for the title (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay). The Argentineans, managed by César Luis Menotti, didn’t take their 1978 World Cup champions and were unable to make it past the first phase. On the other hand, they disclosed young Diego Armando Maradona, making his official international debut. Brazil, with three outstanding midfielders – Sócrates, Zico and Falcão – were eliminated in the semifinals by Paraguay. Amongst the standouts of the Copa America were Chilean defender Elias Figueroa and Bolivian striker Carlos Aragonés, who was most instrumental in the historic victories of Bolivia against Argentina and Brazil.
The two greatest players did not win Copa América. Brazilian player Pelé participated only in the 1959 edition, when he was the best striker (having scored eight goals) and wound up as the runner-up. Argentine striker Maradona played in three Copa América championships, but did not win the title (1979, 1987, and 1989).