Jobu reviews Nacional’s group stage loss to Boca Juniors.
As most of you know, we’ve been following Nacional’s quest for a fourth Copa Libertadores championship. Last Thursday, March 14, they had a chance to pretty much seal up their bid to the second round. All they needed to do was beat Boca Juniors at home, and they’d have 10 points with only two games to go. Boca, meanwhile, basically needed to win to even have a chance to move on, as they came in with only 3 points accumulated in the group stage. I guess I should have mentioned that no one in this group has won a home game…. because that trend continued in Boca’s 1-0 win in Montevideo.
First of all, I’d like to admit I didn’t watch, or even follow, this game. I blame myself partially for the loss. From what my father told me about the game though, Nacional was mostly to blame. Simply stated, they played like crap. Boca didn’t even have a full squad on the field for most of the game, as Claudio Pérez was sent off in the 21st minute for hacking down Juan Albin in the box. Iván Alonso, who has been great so far in this tournament, missed the penalty kick, however. Nacional then preceded to go 69 minutes without being able to score on a Boca team that only had ten men on the pitch.
The least they could have done with that advantage was to tie 0-0, right? Wrong. In the 43rd minute, Nacional defender Andrés Scotti brought down Juán Manuel Martínez in the box, and Boca received a penalty of their own. Juan Roman Riquelme, however, did not miss his shot from the spot. That would be all the scoring either side would muster, and the game would end 1-0. A side note: the goal was Riquelme’s 24th in Copa Libertadores competition, a club record.
This was a pretty big loss for Nacional. As I said before, a win would have put them comfortably in first place in the group, and would pretty much have sealed their advancement to the knockout stages. Now they only hold a one point lead over Boca in the standings. For Boca, this was a huge win. They were staring at a group stage elimination if they had lost, and it still would have been very complicated for them if they had tied. With the win, they pulled to within one point of Nacional in the standings, and have a chance to win the group outright.
Up next for Nacional is another dreaded home game. This one is against Mexican club Toluca, whom Nacional bested 3-2 in the second game of this group stage about a month ago. It will take place on Thursday, April 4th at 6:15PM ET. Be sure to check out the updated group standings below.
Updated Group Standings
- Nacional – 7 points (face Toluca next)
- Boca Juniors – 6 points (face Barcelona next)
- Toluca – 5 points
- Barcelona – 3 points
Featured image courtesy of: Marcelo Genlote / ENVIADO ESPECIAL
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