After violence stopped the holding of the last Uruguayan Clásico, Peñarol and Nacional are gearing up for one of the oldest rivalries in the sport
The Uruguayan league is beginning to take shape as we head into the second half of the campaign. Scheduled on this Wednesday, rounding off match day nine, is the biggest fixture in Uruguay; Peñarol – Nacional. But before previewing the Uruguayan Clásico, time to a look at last weekend’s action.
Currently on top of the table, with one more game played than Peñarol and Nacional, is Montevideo Wanderers. The No2 of last year’s campaign has been in great form, winning four out of its last five games. The go-to-guy for Wanderers has been Cristian Palacios who has scored 12 of the club’s 17 goals so far, making him the top scorer.
Two sides who, next to the big two, are trying to catch up with Wanderers in the race for the Apertura title are Defensor Sporting and Cerro. Both teams started the season off brilliantly with exciting and attractive football. Recently, however, the tide has been turning with some disappointing results as a consequence. Defensor has picked up only one win in their last four outings, whereas Cerro is winless in the last two games.
Cerro and Defensor might be in a downward spiral, Liverpool Montevideo and Danubio seem to have finally come into a positive flow. Because after their slow starts, both sides have regained the kind of form that ensured their spot in the 2017 Copa Sudamericana (the South American equivalent of the Europa League). Liverpool won their first game of the season thanks to Uruguay U20 international Nicolás De La Cruz, while Danubio’s 0-0 draw made sure they are unbeaten in four now.
VIDEO: Uruguay U20 international Nicolás De La Cruz is one of the country's best youngsters and showed just why for Liverpool this weekend. pic.twitter.com/WFcGpC4brO
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) April 3, 2017
So, now on to the big one…
Regardless of the league standings, when Peñarol and Nacional meet it will always be edgy. And with the last Clásico being called off due to misbehavior of both set of fans, the tensions will be running higher than ever on Wednesday night.
The Uruguayan FA will try and ensure that there will be no disturbances this time around and that the focus will be on where it should be; football. The fans, of course, have a responsibility as well but after witnessing the aftermath of the last Clásico’s incidents it would be astonishing to see another act of violence ruining the game and the image of Uruguayan football.
A lot of the attention is directed at safety issues but from a sporting perspective, this game is vital in the fate of the Apertura title. Nacional has a three-point advantage on eternal rivals Peñarol and will go top of the table by winning or drawing vs. Peñarol. Recent results don’t suggest Nacional will start the game with lots of confidence, though, as the Tricolores suffered a defeat and drew in the last two games.
A statistic that should give Nacional confidence, however, is that they haven’t lost a competitive game against The Manyas in nearly three years. Peñarol, on the other hand, will feel that this is their time to shine again. The side managed by Leo Ramos is unbeaten in eight league games and are clearly in better shape than Nacional.
Two players Peñarol will count on to carry their team vs. Nacional are captain Nahitan Nández and striker Mauricio Affonso. The pair has been hitting the ground running lately and could be a real threat for Nacional. The same can be said about Nacional duo Kevin Ramírez and Hugo Silveira. They might not be in the same form as Nández and Affonso, but can be unstoppable on their day.
With Peñarol in fifth place on 16 points and Nacional in second on 19, it’s clear which team can’t afford any slip-up. In what is believed to be a nail-biting encounter, Peñarol will be looking to close the gap and put themselves among the title contenders. A win for Nacional basically means Peñarol are left without a chance of claiming the Apertura title.