Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nacional victorious again - Dream start complete

Celebrating another goal: Nacional win their second game of the season as well. (Photo: Nacional Twitter)
Noone really knew where the club stood, not even after the first week of action in Uruguay's Primera División. After opening the Clausura with a 3-0 win over Villa Teresa, Nacional followed it up with another 3-0 away win, this time against Copa Libertadores participant River Plate.

One man stole the show throughout the 90 minutes: Nicolas López. He already convinced a week ago (see last match report), but this week he was on another level. A hattrick was the end result of a fantastic performance that might make the quick people ask who that Iván Alonso guy was. 
Kidding, we are not that far yet. But the start could not have gone any brighter for the 22-year old, who rejoined his youth club on loan from Udinese Calcio. The bottom line are 4 goals and an assist in just two games. 

During the week, the club signed central striker Léo Gamalho from Avaí, but the Brazilian will have an impossible mission to get into the first XI, if López keeps his form going. Especially considering the strong Copa Libertadores group Nacional got drawn into, any offensive strengths will be well-needed.

But not only López could convince the supporters. Jorge Fucile was very active on his right full-back position and continued being a threat going forward. The right side was the focal point of Nacional's attack for large parts, particularly in the first half. 

On the left side, Kevin Ramírez was not as strong as last week and could not get by defenders as effortlessly. Granted, River's backline is probably another quality compared to Villa Teresa's. On the back end, left-back Olivera had a fine game. After some time, he even commited to some attacking attempts. He can build on today.

One of the main problems last week was Mauricio Victorino after entering the pitch. He continued his shocking form today for a while, as River started to find their legs after going down 0-2 quickly. Misplaced passes, wrong positioning, all the good stuff you don't want to see from an experienced centre-back. Luckily he improved as the game progressed and in the second half, he had a fine outing next to the ever-consistent captain Diego Polenta.

Overall, the 3-0 win this week can be rated much higher than the opening one a week ago. Not only the competition was better, Nacional's performance was a massive step in the right direction. A win that could have ended up even higher, as countless chances went astray, notably through midfield engine Colo Romero.

Nacional are hosting Montevideo Wanderers in the Gran Parque Central next weekend, while River Plate are facing Palmeiras in the Copa Libertadores midweek.


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