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Jobu reviews Nacional’s first game of the knockout stage of the Copa Libertadores.

That’s right, folks. Nacional’s quest for a fourth Copa Libertadores championship continued last week, as the first round of the knockout stage commenced all over South America. As we discussed at the end of last week’s post, Nacional’s opponent in this part of the tournament is Peru’s Real Garcilaso. While the game didn’t go as planned for the Tri-colores, all hope is not lost.

The knockout stages of the Copa are a little different than other tournaments. For example, the knockout stage of the World Cup is like March Madness: One game, winner moves on. In the Copa Libertadores tournament, the knockout stage actually involves two games: one at each team’s home stadium. This is a little bit more fair to both teams, especially those coming out of a group stage environment. It’s hard to really seed teams for the next round coming out of the groups (it’s still done by points earned), so having a home and home gives each team an equal shot at winning the round. I, for one, like this.

I like it a lot more now, because Nacional lost the game at Real Garcilaso 1-0. There’s one thing that you need to know about Garcilaso’s stadium… It sits at 3,400 meters above sea level. Not feet, meters. That’s a long friggin’ way up. Even the Colorado Rockies can be jealous of not hitting baseballs in that part of Peru. As expected, Nacional struggled mightily with the thin air and got off to a very slow start. Garcilaso missed a few big opportunities to put the game away early, which allowed Nacional to stick around for the whole game. In fact, they were attacking heavily in the second half and looked like they might end up tying the game.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Garcilaso’s Rolando Bogado’s goal in the 35th minute proved to be the only goal of the game for either team. Nacional will have to bounce back in their home stadium. They need a definitive two goal victory to go through cleanly. They’ll be back home, in proper fútbol playing altitude, which should help a lot. The altitude shift should also work against Real Garcilaso. It’s just as hard to come down as it is to go up. We’ll have to see how things go on Thursday, May 9 at 8:15 PM Eastern.


Featured image courtesy of: 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.