Cruzeiro's history is traced back to the Italian community living in Belo Horizonte, a city where already some Italian immigrants lived and their desire to set up a football club. Similar to the Italians of São Paulo (who founded Palestra Itália, now known as Palmeiras) the people of Belo Horizonte wanted the Italian colonies in Minas Gerais to have its own club as well.
The idea of the club being created took a big step when Yale, a sports team from the city went through an administrative crises. When some players left Yale over a dispute (Yale, which itself had connections to the Italian community), some went on to found the all Italian, Sociedade Esportiva Palestra Itália of Belo Horizonte. On January 2, 1921, about 72 Italians had appeared for the foundation of the Sociedade Esportiva Palestra Itália, (Italian: Societá Sportiva Palestra Itália). The adopted colors were the same as of the Italian flag: green, red, and white. The first uniform of the club was a green jersey, white shorts and red stockings. On the club's shield, in the form of a rhombus, were the initials SSPI. Until 1925 the club would only allow Italians men to participate.
Palestra debuted in the Prado Mineiro Stadium with a 2–0 win in a friendly on April 3, 1921, against a combination from Nova Lima. The Nova Lima team united players from two teams from the city: Villa Nova, and Palmeiras, another team form Nova Lima. However the first official match of Palestra was in a 3–0 win over future archrivals Clube Atlético Mineiro.
On January 1942, Brazil entered World War II and a decree of the federal government forbade the use of terms from enemy nations in entities, institutions, establishments, etc. With this, the Italian name was removed and the club could no longer call themselves Palestra Italia. The name was changed to Sociedade Esportiva Palestra Mineiro. The new name did not last long and was changed to Ypiranga by club president Ennes Cyro Poni. But because Ennes Cyro Poni did not consult any of the clubs directors before changing the club's name and because the club lost on their debut, the name only lasted one game. In a meeting between the club's directors, the name Cruzeiro Esporte Clube was approved. Cruzeiro is the constellation of the Southern Cross, and can only be seen from the southern hemisphere, therefore not related to Italy. The club's colors changed to a blue shirt and blue stockings, and white shorts. Only, however, in November 1942, did Cruzeiro Esporte Clube play its first official game under its new name. The game happened on November 11, 1942, against América with Cruzeiro winning 1–0.
With the inauguration of the Mineirão in 1965, Cruzeiro entered one of the most successful periods in its history, in which the club won five Campeonato Mineiro titles in a row, and went on to win its first national title, the 1966 Taça Brasil (the highest honor in Brazilian football at that time) beating Santos of Pelé in the final. Cruzeiro won the first leg 6–2 at the Mineirão, and the second leg 3–2 in São Paulo. In the 1974 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Cruzeiro were runner-up for the first time, after losing to Vasco in the finals. Later in 1975, Cruzeiro were runner-up in the Campeonato Brasileiro once again, this time losing to Internacional. In 1976, Cruzeiro won its first Copa Libertadores de América, over River Plate of Argentina. Cruzeiro went on to be runners-up of the same competition in 1977, being defeated in the finals by Boca Juniors, also of Argentina. After winning the 1976 Copa Libertadores, they participated in the 1976 Intercontinental Cup, now renamed the FIFA Club World Championship, for the first time and tied Bayern Munich 0–0 at the Mineirão, but lost 2–0 to Bayern in the Olympiastadion.
After tasting success in the 1960s and 1970s, Cruzeiro entered a dark period in the 1980s. With the exception of a couple of Campeonato Mineiro wins, the club won no other championships in the 1980s, and had its worst performances in the Campeonato Brasileiro, 33rd in 1984 and 29th in 1985. The 1980s was the only decade Cruzeiro did not participate once in the Copa Libertadores since the tournament's creation in 1960.
In the 1990s a new era began, and a 15 year sequence of at least one title per year was initiated. This included six of the club's seven international championships and a Campeonato Brasileiro (2003). In December 2010 the CBF (the governing body of Brazilian football) also recognized Cruzeiro as Brazilian champion of 1966, for having beaten Santos of Pelé: 6-2 in Belo Horizonte and 2-3 in São Paulo. The club's biggest exploit in the 21st century happened when it won the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. With 100 points earned during the season, and just over 100 goals scored in 46 matches, it was one of the most successful campaigns ever by a club in a Brazilian championship. In 2003, besides winning the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Cruzeiro also won the Copa do Brasil and the Campeonato Mineiro, to become the first Brazilian team to win the triple crown.
Since 2003 Cruzeiro have only won one major tournament (four times): the Campeonato Mineiro (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009). However the club finished in the top five of the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, guaranteeing a spot in the Copa Libertadores for four consecutive years (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). In 2010, after a great campaign in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, Cruzeiro took the second place and qualified for the Copa Libertadores da America for 2011. Cruzeiro's biggest success in recent years was reaching the finals of the 2009 Copa Libertadores, however, they lost to Estudiantes de La Plata 2–1.
Read more about this topic: Cruzeiro Esporte Clube
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