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Hello fans! El Bolso is back with another Charrúa Report. This week we’ve got a big Nacional milestone and plenty of action abroad. Let”s get to it!

 

Halfway There

 

We're apparently past heart attacks and onto brain strokes, but either way Alonso just keeps on scoring. (La Abdon)
We’re apparently past heart attacks and onto brain strokes, but either way Alonso just keeps on scoring. (La Abdon)

 

It wasn’t pretty, but Nacional took a big step towards the Uruguayan League title this week, beating Fénix 1-0 to clinch first place in the Annual table. A 23rd minute penalty kick by Iván Alonso after a foul on Leandro Barcia was the difference in this one, which gives the Tricolores a significant advantage in the championship playoffs. Now, let’s take a minute to reflect on what this means: if this tournament were played European style, Nacional would have clinched the title with 4 weeks left, even with all of the stumbling early in the Clausura. However, because this is South America and every last cent must be wrung out of the season, there’s an end of season playoff (unless Nacional manages to win the Clausura, of course). Nacional, as Apertura winner, will face the Clausura champ in a single game; if the Tricolores win, they’re the champs. If they lose, they get another shot at the title as Annual Table winners, in a two game playoff.

 

And speaking of the Clausura, former leader Danubio stumbled badly this week, losing to last place Tacuarembó to drop down to second place. That gave Peñarol a chance to climb into the top spot, which they did by beating Rampla Juniors 2-0 (don’t worry, they still managed to find a reason to bitch about the refs). Nacional also benefitted from the defending league champion’s loss, closing in to within 4 points of first place. It’s going to be an exciting finish, especially considering that Nacional will face the leaders in the Clásico next round; they’ll have to wait until the 17th for that game, however, because of next weekend’s mayoral elections. Seriously people, enough with the voting! Can we just finish this tournament?

 

That break might come in handy for the Tricolors, however, because the lost keeper Gustavo Munua to a sprained knee just 8 minutes into the game. The veteran goalie would have no chance to play this coming weekend, but the extra time may allow him to get back into the lineup in time for the big derby. Hey, it could have been worse, he could have lost a couple of pints of blood like Fénix defender José Ignacio Pallas. Pallas made a great sliding play to take a dangerous ball away from Barcia, but paid a steep price when his nose collided with the forward’s knee. Hey, look at it this way: how often does Fénix end up in a Deadspin article? I’ll be honest with you guys, even though I really wanted Nacional to win, I found it hard to root against this week’s opponent: between Pallas, midfielder Martín Ligüera, and forward Alexander “the Chieftain” Medina, it was like watching one of those classic Nacional teams I so loved rooting for… 10 years ago.

 

El Matador y el Pistolero

 

The Gunslinger is heating up at the right time. Can he lead Barcelona to the treble? (Miami Herald)
The Gunslinger is heating up at the right time. Can he lead Barcelona to the treble? (Miami Herald)

 

Man, this week was quite the duel between Uruguayan National Team strikers  Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani, wasn’t it? It’s too bad we can’t say the same thing about that Champions League quarterfinal matchup, right? (hyoooooooooo!) Sorry Edi, the shot was there and I had to take it… unlike you in the CL. (ZING!)

 

OK, that’s enough Cavani-bashing. Edinson had a great week as PSG continues to cling to first place in Ligue 1. On Tuesday, he scored the second goal in a 2-0 win against Metz. The striker started the play with a great move at midfield, sent a nice outlet pass down the middle of the field, and hustled all the way to the box where he got the ball back and finished in style. Then, on Sunday, he took advantage of a teammate’s great controlling touch inside the box, poaching the shot to open the scoring just three minutes into yet another 2-0 win, this one against Nantes. PSG holds a 3 point lead with just 3 games left to play, and Cavani has been a huge reason for that.

 

Remember that old song that went “everything you can do, I can do better”? That’s what Suárez must be singing to his fellow Uruguayan striker. Barcelona had a couple of laughers this week, and the Celeste star featured prominently. First, he scored the second and fifth goals in a 6-0 thrashing of Getafe on Tuesday night, including this crazy half bicycle kick. I mean, what the hell, Luis? and that was only the beginning; on Saturday, Suárez upped the ante, notching his first hat trick with Barcelona as the Blaugrana put an 8-0 hurting on Cordoba (to add insult to injury, the loss clinched relegation for La Liga’s worst team). That’s right, Barcelona outscored their opponents 14-0 this week, with El Pistolero accounting for 5 of those goals. Geez! Still, Real Madrid keeps winning, so Barcelona’s lead is still just 2 points.

 

You don’t see La Celeste and Benfica defensive stalwart Maxi Pereira in the scoresheet all that often, but this weekend was the exception. The Uruguayan managed two goals in his team’s 5-0 win against Gil Vicente. Pereira opened and closed the scoring as Benfica maintained its 3 point lead on traditional rival Porto.

 

Finally, Diego Forlán is still tearing up the Japanese second division! Cachavacha notched his first Japanese hat trick this week in Cerezo Osaka’s 3-0 win against Kyoto. Forlán now has 9 goals in just 9 matches this season, and Osaka has climbed to 4th place, just 3 points away from the last promotion spot.

 

And that’s all for this week, friends! I’ll leave you with yet another installment of Pasión Tricolor. See you next week!

 

El Bolso

About El Bolso

El Bolso is Uruguay’s foremost soccer-fan-in-exile, a true authority on the Celeste and its favored son, the Club Nacional de Football. He believes in precision passing, tireless marking, and strong finishing, and is not above the occasional slide tackle from behind when the situation calls for it.

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