Saturday, May 14, 2016

Peñarol take on Nacional in Clásico Uruguayo

A ground-breaking game for both teams is what it is all about in this season's Clásico Uruguayo. Yesterday, the visitors celebrated their 117th birthday

Key man on Sunday: Seba Fernández has never lost a Clásico. (Photo:
When Peñarol play against Nacional, a ton of pride and bragging rights will always be on the line, seperating the country in two halves. This time around, the game is being played in week 12 of the Clausura and has significant influence on the title. Both teams are currently seperated by just two points, so it is a winner takes the league lead situation (Plaza Colonia can interfere with that plan). 

In recent weeks, the two clubs have both done their homework quite well in the league (see infographic below), Peñarol is on a four-game winning streak, while Nacional has not lost in five. One series has to end on Sunday afternoon at the Estadio Centenario (8:30pm CET).
Going into the game, Nacional has the well-known and probably best trouble surrounding them: Success. Their road to the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals means that the Clásico is scheduled inbetween big international games for the first time in quite a while. Injuries come along with it, as top striker Nico López will miss the rivals clash. Not only because of López' absence, Sebastián Fernández will play a key role in Nacional's attempt to get all three points. So far, the former Uruguayan international has not lost a single Clásico he played in. 

Coach Gustavo Munúa cannot afford to rotate in the biggest game of the season, since all hell would break loose from the supporters should they lose this one with a B squad. Whoever is able to play (Romero and Ramírez were doubtful too after taking several knocks on Thursday) will be in the starting XI. Leo Gamalho and Christian Tabó were named prime options to replace López and Ramírez.

Peñarol on the other hand do not have any international distractions anymore and can concentrate fully on the league. While they would probably prefer something else, it does help them, shown by their recent success. Admittedly, their playing style did not convince and the opponents were not exactly the elite in Uruguay either. Their real challenge comes on Sunday. Diego Forlán will most likely start for the yellow and black, after being demoted to the bench for the first half in the win over Villa Teresa. When he came on, things started to go Peñarol's way. 

Despite the completely different preparations towards this game, it would surprise anyone if we did not get a close affair on Sunday as well. Betting companies such as bwin see Peñarol as favourite nevertheless, with odds of 1.83. A Nacional win would multiply your stake by 4.


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