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Hello fans! It’s El Bolso with another update on Uruguayan soccer. The Uruguayan league took a break this weekend because of the Presidential election runoff. You’ll be glad to know the left wing Frente Amplio coalition won for the third time in a row, returning Tabaré Vázquez to the highest office in the country after a constitutionally mandated 5 year break (in Uruguay you can be President as many times as you want, but you can’t do it in consecutive terms). Anyway, there was plenty of news around the world, so let’s get to it!


Globetrotting News


Hey, if four goals in a single game don’t get Pablo Granoche’s picture in the Charrúa Report, what will?


Let’s start with Pablo Granoche. You read about the former Miramar Misiones striker last week, but this week he took it to another level, scoring all four of Modena’s goals in a road win at Crotone. Granoche leads Italian Serie B in scoring with 13 goals, 3 more than his closest pursuer. Modena is in 10th place, but only 3 points away from the last promotion playoff spot with a game in hand.


Hey, guess who got off the schneid? Luis Suárez, that’s who! The Gunslinger scored Barcelona’s first goal in a 4-0 Champions League win at Apoel Nicosia. He almost scored his first La Liga goal on Sunday, too, but the linesman in that game was apparently blind. Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani continued to break records in European competition with a brace against Ajax. His two goals helped PSG to a 3-0 home win and set a new record for career Champions League goals by a Uruguayan (14). Cavani already owned the record for most goals in all European club competitions by a Celeste player, which now stands at 28. Hopefully that will help ease the pain when he fails to score at all while filling in for Suárez in the Copa América next summer.


José Giménez spent some time in the hospital after this weekend’s Atlético Madrid game against Deportivo La Coruña (Diego Godín had nothing to do with it this time). Chema suffered a concussion after banging heads with a Coruña player, but hey, some people had it much worse at that game.


Gus Poyet has had some bad weekends as Sunderland coach this season, but this was not one of them. His squad went into Stamford Bridge and came away with a 0-0 tie, the first time Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea has been held scoreless at home all season. He may be The Chosen One, but Mourinho was not able to beat The Uruguayan One.


Vitoria Guimarães is still the surprise leader of the Portuguese league, and this week it’s thanks to its Uruguayan forward, Jonathan Alvez. The former Danubio striker, who is in the middle of his first European league season, came into a 1-1 game in the 73rd minute and scored the game winner just 9 minutes later.


Finally, River Plate is in the Copa Sudamericana final after beating their biggest rival, Boca Juniors, 1-0 in the return game of their semifinal bracket. Both Carlos Sánchez and Rodrigo Mora played for the Millonarios. Congratulations to them and to their coach, former Nacional player and manager Marcelo Gallardo.


I Believe the Children Are the Future


The Uruguay U17 team will be looking to improve on 2013’s World Cup quarterfinal loss to Nigeria.


There was good news for both of Uruguay’s youth teams this week. The U20 squad, which is getting ready to host the South American Championships in a little over a month, won a friendly four team tournament in Paraguay. They started off by losing to Peru 1-0, beat the hosts by the same score and then bested Jamaica 2-0. This earned them first place in the round robin and a spot in the final against second place… Jamaica (it’s a South American tournament, just go with it). In the rematch, the Lil’ Celestes were not doing so well, losing 2-0 and a man down with 15 minutes to go, but they rallied to tie the game (one of the goals coming from Nacional’s own Gastón Pereiro), fell behind again, tied it at 3-3 on a last minute goal (still playing 10-on-11, mind you) and won the subsequent penalty shootout.


Meanwhile, the U17 team, which will be competing in their own version of the South American Championships in March, faced off against Argentina in two friendly matches. The Littler Celestes won the first one by a 2-0 score and tied the remaining game 1-1. Things are looking up for both squads as they get ready to battle their South American brethren for continental bragging rights and, more importantly, a spot in their respective World Cups, which will take place later on in the year. El Bolso, of course, will be here to bring you all the excitement.


Nacional News


 Here’s the exact moment when Danubio was eliminated from the 2015 Libertadores Cup.


There may not have been any games last weekend, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on with Nacional. Sebastián Abreu announced that he will not continue at Rosario Central after the end of the year, and has already started making noises about being closer to his family and putting on the glorious white jersey for the fifth time in his well-travelled career. The popular El Loco was at Rosario on loan and is under contract with Nacional until December of 2015, so a return in time for the Clausura tournament is not out of the question. Hopefully he’ll learn a lesson from other veterans on the squad and put his ego aside for the good of the team. The Tricolores have a good thing going and can’t afford the type of distractions Abreu can bring when he’s not happy. If he manages to fit into the philosophy that Alvaro Gutiérrez has installed in his time as coach, it will be good to see him back. And while we’re on the subject, here’s my all-time favorite El Loco moment, because why would you ever get tired of watching that.


Then there’s the reason for the report being out a little late this week: the 2015 Libertadores Cup draw took place on Tuesday night, and I wanted to bring you the results hot off the presses. As you know, Nacional holds the Uruguay 3 spot, behind Champion Danubio and runner up Wanderers. That means that, like last year, they will have to go through a playoff to make it to the group stage. Your buddy El Bolso fired up the ol’ laptop and watched most of the ceremony live, which is saying a lot considering that it started at 7pm my time and by 8:45 no drawing of any kind had taken place. I’m not going to tell you what happened in that time because I fear to delve back into the horror; let’s just say that there were many, many, maaaaaany tributes to dead or dying old men, and a blazer with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows featured prominently in the musical entertainment. That’s as far as I can go.


In any case, once the drawing finally got going, we learned that the Tricolores will face off against whichever team ends up holding the Chile 3 spot, which will be decided later this month. The good news is that Nacional will play on the road first and then host the deciding game. Also, unlike last year, there’s no group of death awaiting our heroes, as the winner of this playoff landed in Group 5 along with Argentina 4 (also TBD), Zamora FC of Venezuela, and fellow Uruguayans Montevideo Wanderers. Should Nacional get past the unknown Chilean team, it looks like a ticket out of the group stage should definitely be doable. As for Danubio, their luck was pretty rotten; they were placed in Group 2 with defending champion San Lorenzo (which has the Pope in its corner, let’s not forget), Brazilian powerhouse Sao Paulo, and the winner of the playoff between Brazil 5 and Colombia 3. Given that La Franja also has a 20 point hill to climb in the league annual table, it’s looking like rough few months for the reigning Uruguayan champions.


You can look at the rest of the groups here.


Well fans, that’s it for this week. there was no Pasión Tricolor this weekend, so instead, here’s a video from Argentina that shows the ecstasy and the agony of being a homer broadcaster. If you’re not fluent in Spanish, make sure you follow the poster’s directions and turn on the closed captioning.  It’s definitely worth it.



See you next week!

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.