Hello fans! It’s time once again for the Charrúa Report. There was no Uruguayan League action this weekend because of the Presidential elections, so this is going to be a short one. Let’s start with some tidbits from international competition.
Around the World in Charrúa News
Champions League action continued during the week, and Uruguayos were not left out of the excitement. Paris Saint Germain looked like it would be unable to bring three points home from Cyprus until Edinson Cavani took matters into his own hands… er… feet. A brilliant individual play three minutes from time ended with the Celeste forward pushing the ball in while sitting on his butt in the middle of the Apoel Nicosia defense. Cavani missed PSG’s French League match because of last weekend’s ridiculous red card, but he made up for it by putting PSG in the driver’s seat for a Champions League knockout round berth. This was Cavani’s 25th goal in European international club competitions, setting a new record for Uruguayan players. Meanwhile, Atlético de Madrid smacked Swedish side Malmo around 5-0, with the 4th goal coming on a header by none other than Diego Godín.
In league action over the weekend, Nicolás Lopez scored for the second week in a row, and once again it wasn’t enough for Hellas Verona. The young striker came off the bench against Napoli to tie the game at 2 goals apiece; unfortunately for his team, the Neapolitans scored four more goals after that. You can see Nico’s latest here.
The other big piece of news comes from the Copa Sudamericana, where Peñarol faced Estudiantes de la Plata at home for a spot in the quarterfinals. Having lost 2-1 in Argentina on a last minute goal, the Manyas came out firing on all cylinders and were up 2-0 at the half. However, a silly giveaway in the defensive end led to an Estudiantes goal and a penalty shootout. Estudiantes keeper Hilario Navarro stopped three of the four shots he faced, and that was all she wrote for Peñarol’s international dreams. This means that Nacional’s spot in the 2015 Libertadores Cup is finally safe, as all Uruguayan sides have been eliminated from the Sudamericana (the winner of the Sudamericana gets a spot in the next Libertadores, bumping the lowest-ranked team from its own country). This will then be Nacional’s 19th consecutive Libertadores Cup appearance, adding to the Tricolores record-setting run. Let’s hope they can make some noise in this one.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: some guy named Luis Suárez made his return to official competition in the Real Madrid-Barcelona derby! While Barcelona lost handily by a 3-1 score, Luisito managed to avoid the well-deserved criticism that fell on most of the blaugrana players (cough cough MESSI! cough cough INIESTA! cough cough). His perfectly lofted cross to Neymar started the play that gave Barcelona the early lead, which they could have doubled soon after that if Mr. “I’m too famous to pay my taxes” Argentinian attacker guy had managed to convert from point blank range after an absolutely wicked through-ball from the Uruguayan striker. Look, I’m not saying Messi single-handedly cost Barcelona the three points; he was nowhere to be seen when Iniesta started Real on their way to the game winner with a poorly timed backwards pass. The problem was, indeed, that Messi was nowhere to be seen for most of the match. Suárez did OK for playing in his first official match in four months, and I expect that he will only get better, but Barcelona looks a step too slow right now; it may be time to start thinking about a generational change, especially in the midfield. And they better hope Messi shows up for the next big match, or else it may be another trophy-less year for the catalans.
Matías Dutour’s Story
We’ll wrap up this week’s column with the heartwarming story of one of Nacional’s up and coming youth division players: nineteen year old Matías Dutour, who was featured in a FIFA.com article a couple of weeks back. Matías was born without the lower part of his left arm. Despite the doctors warning that he’d be unable to crawl or do many other things “normal” boys can do, he grew up loving fútbol like any other Uruguayan, and managed to play on youth teams in his native Rocha. He used a prosthesis until the age of eight, but there was this one game where it kept falling off, until finally he put it aside and played on without it. As he tells it, it was not an easy thing to do, because he felt that everyone was staring at him, but he figured if he was able to show himself as he truly was in front of the soccer crowds, he’d be comfortable doing it in any other situation. He never wore the prosthesis again.
A speedy midfielder equally at ease on either side of the field, Matías started attracting attention as he made his way through the Rocha and Lavalleja youth soccer systems, and he was eventually given the chance to join Nacional’s youth divisions, where he reinvented himself as a left fullback. He played his first game with the Tricolor jersey a year ago against Liverpool (no, not that one) in a fourth division match. Youth divisions in Uruguay start at seventh and go all the way to third, which is the reserve team for the main squad. there is no second division, because that would make way too much sense for Uruguay soccer. Matías got the assist on the tying goal in a 2-1 Nacional victory, and he became a regular on the fourth division starting lineup. The FIFA article was prompted by Nacional coach Alvaro Gutiérrez’s decision to include Matías in several main team training sessions at the start of this season. This wasn’t some sort of Make a Wish deal; it’s actually fairly common for coaches to call up reserve team standouts to practice with the main squad to help fill out the roster, replace injured or tired players and give the young ones a taste of life at the top of the institutional food chain. While Matías has not yet been part of a game roster, the fact that he was included in the training sessions means that the big league coaching staff has plans for the young player in the not too distant future. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see him in a game soon.
And that’s all for this week, friends. There’s no Pasion Tricolor this week, but we’ll be back next Tuesday, hopefully with plenty of ridiculously hoarse celebrations. See you then!
- The Charrúa Report: On the Right Foot - March 14, 2017
- The Charrúa Report: Campeones! - February 14, 2017
- The Charrúa Report: 48 Is Enough - January 11, 2017
- The Charrúa Report: Nico and the Sounders - December 14, 2016
- The Charrúa Report: King of the Single Rounders - December 12, 2016
- The Charrúa Report: Senseless - December 6, 2016
- The Charrúa Report: The Bum’s Rush - November 28, 2016
- The Charrúa Report: A Bump in the Road - November 16, 2016
- The Charrúa Report: Is It Priceline Time? - November 12, 2016
- The Charrúa Report: Closer to Fine - October 13, 2016