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Jobu reviews the third game of Nacional’s quest for a Copa Libertadores championship.

For those of you who are bilingual and read the title… see what I did there? Ah? Anyway, after a dramatic home tie against Barcelona (from Ecuador, not Spain) and a big road win against Toluca of Mexico, things got a little hectic in Montevideo. As a result, Nacional went into game three of the Copa Libertadores, against Argentina’s Boca Juniors, with a new head coach. Would the transition be an easy one?

Remember coach Gustavo Díaz? The same guy who helmed the team through the two games we just talked about a second ago? Yep. He gone. What happened? That’s a little more complicated. Unlike in other sports, fútbol teams often play in a couple of tournaments at the same time. For example, the Copa Libertadores kicked off last month, but Nacional is also playing in their local league schedule at the same time. The 2013 Clausura (basically the closing half of the schedule) kicked off in late February as well, and Nacional didn’t do too well at all, barely managing a tie against Cierro Largo and losing to Defensor Sporting, 1-0.

That simply wasn’t good enough, and Díaz basically got out of Dodge because it was about to crumble on him. Like Richard Nixon before him, Díaz resigned before he could get fired. This left Nacional with a little over a week to acclimate themselves to temporary new coach Juan Carlos Blanco and continue both the Clausura and the match against Boca for the Copa.

Gustavo Díaz resigned, but he probably would have been fired anyway. (
Gustavo Díaz resigned, but he probably would have been fired anyway. (

Well, it really couldn’t have gone much better than it did in the game against Boca, and Nacional came away with another win, using a 19th minute header by Andrés Scotti to win on the road again by a score of 1-0. It certainly wasn’t an easy game though, as Boca basically pounded on the door for 70 minutes after Scotti’s goal. Goaltender Jorge Bava did not let them in though, making a couple of pretty nasty saves and getting some help from the defense and a little luck to boot.

After getting home from work, I tried to watch the second half of this game using Roja Directa (if you like streaming fútbol games, go there), but the feed was very choppy, so I ended up missing a lot of things. It was a little frustrating, especially when Boca would have free kicks just outside the box and my feed would skip as Juan Riquelme was running up to the ball to kick it… but that’s OK. As my brother wisely told me, you get what you pay for with Roja Directa. I still highly recommend the service though. Beats not watching anything, right?

Anywho, as I said, Nacional held on for the big win, and they are now the only team in their group to not lose a game in this stage, and they’re in good shape to move on. One special star goes out to Nacional defender Alejandro Lembo, who got thrown out of this game for arguing with the ref (although I will say it was kind of a bullshit second yellow). You’ll remember Lembo from game one of the Copa, when he got a second yellow but the awful referee didn’t remember to kick him out of the game for five minutes. Anywho, in four games so far this tournament Lembo has gotten two red cards and been suspended for twice… kudos.

Up next for Nacional is another matchup with Boca on Thursday, March 14, as the second half of the home and home group stage kicks off. This time, Nacional will be playing at home in the Estadio Centenario. Let’s hope they can keep the momentum going for the home fans!

As always, here are the highlights courtesy of Youtube:

Featured image courtesy of: The Associated Press

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.