Despite a surprise package leading the way at the start of the season in Uruguay, Nacional grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons
Peñarol and Nacional usually rule the roost in Uruguay, but in recent times the gap between the big two and the chasing pack has been shrinking. This has resulted in an open championship which is far more enjoyable to watch. We are four weeks into the new season and there’s already plenty to look back on. Lots of goals, tight games and a surprising leader.
So, let’s take a look at the opening rounds. Peñarol are the only team yet to concede a goal after chalking off two 4-0 wins and a couple of goalless draws. With 21-year-old volante Nahitan Nandez as captain – the youngest in the club’s existence – the Manyas have looked sensational at times when going forward. Last weekend, the side managed by Leonardo Ramos were unstoppable against Montevideo Wanderers.
— Martin da Cruz (@martindacruz_) February 26, 2017
One of the two teams that did stop Peñarol this season was Liverpool Montevideo. But apart from the result against Peñarol, Liverpool looks like a shadow of the team that finished fifth last season. Perhaps Nicolás De La Cruz’ absence hurt them – a footballer who only returned to action this week after representing Uruguay in the South American U20 Championship.
Another club that hasn’t picked from where they left off is Danubio. A third-place finish last season might have been a one-off as La Franja have just two points on the board so far. Club Atlético Cerro, on the other hand, has hit the ground running. 4-3 and 0-6 wins underline the great start Cerro have made. It will be hard to stay top for the whole season but the Albicelestes surely won’t go down without a fight.
One team that will be challenging Cerro for that top spot is 46-times Uruguayan champions, Nacional. The Tricolores are in the hunt for back-to-back titles and have loaned former Uruguay U20 international Rodrigo Aguirre from Udinese to help them in the process. Aguirre and 22-year-old Kevin Ramírez have been two of Nacional’s key players in the perfect start; three played, nine points.
Last Sunday, Nacional had the chance to expand the run to four as they were about to face River Plate Montevideo. A ‘fan’- who assaulted an Uruguay federation (AUF) worker for not letting him enter without a ticket – spoiled the party and ensured that the game was canceled.
Nacional – River Plate was suspended because of an attack from a Nacional 'fan' on an AUF official. Nacional might lose all three points. pic.twitter.com/eU4oBhyrcZ
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) February 27, 2017
After last year’s riots ahead of the Uruguayan Clásico, the AUF don’t want to risk anything and reacted accordingly. Whether the match will be played on another date or Nacional will be punished for its fan’s actions and stripped of all three points remains uncertain.
However, the fact that Nacional was not able to play last weekend, meant that Defensor Sporting stays 2nd on the table. El Tuerto – who are without club legend Nicolás Olivera after he retired from professional football last year – are one of the five teams that are still unbeaten and have already treated us to some lovely football.