With the Apertura reaching the business end of the season in Uruguay, a couple of classics are battling for the title along with a team to shake the system
We’ve reached the latter stages of the Uruguayan Apertura tournament as there are just four rounds remaining. Multiple teams are still in contention of winning the competition and therefore qualifying for the championship playoffs. So, who’s going to claim the title? One of Peñarol and Nacional or outsiders Defensor Sporting?
For Defensor, it’s already been a hugely successful campaign. The four-times champions of Uruguay are arguably the best footballing side in the country and have some great players coming through their youth ranks. Uruguay U20 international Carlos Benavídez, for example, is a very versatile midfielder and is already a key player for his club.
Another player that is making waves and soon could be on the move to Europe is Maxi Gómez. The 20-year-old No9 is a very opportunistic player, who has been gold for Defensor this campaign with eight goals. His latest strike came last weekend away to Liverpool Montevideo. A 10-man Defensor overcame their numerical disadvantage and claimed all three points to consolidate their second place in the table.
Just ahead of La Viola are heavyweights Nacional. The club – currently managed by Martín Lasarte, who gave debuts to both Luis Suárez and Antione Griezmann – looked to have hit a bump on the road after picking up one point in their fixtures against River Plate and Boston River but a last minute equalizer in the Clásico vs. Peñarol seems to have instigated a positive flow as Nacional have now won their last two games.
The protagonist of late for The Tricolores has been Rodrigo Aguirre. The striker returned to his home country in January, having failed to succeed in Europe and looks to have found the form that earned him a move to the old continent in the first place. His two goals sealed a comfortable 3-1 away win vs. Cerro on Saturday and made sure Nacional’s points tally rose to 26. It also underlined his importance to the side. A continuation of his good form might present Aguirre with another shot at European glory.
In third – three points behind league leaders Nacional – are Peñarol. The Manyas are the only remaining club that has yet to taste defeat this season but have drawn too many games (5) and are therefore still trying to catch up instead of leading the way. Last round, Peñarol booked a narrow victory on Danubio and it was once again Nahitan Nández that got them out of jail.
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The 22-year-old is Peñarol’s captain and has certainly stepped up to the plate when his team needed it most. With five goals he is his team’s top scorer this season and it wouldn’t come as any surprise if he will be called up to the Uruguay squad for the next international break. First Nández will focus on winning his second league with Peñarol, though.
There are still 12 points up for grabs which means Defensor and Peñarol have every right to believe catching up with Nacional and win the Apertura title. Defensor even has the chance to overtake Nacional in their meeting on the penultimate match day. Peñarol won’t face either of their rivals so will hope for a slip-up and will try and make sure to capitalize on it.