Sunday, June 5, 2016

Disappointing end to a good season? - Nacional

After years of international struggles, Nacional had a good year again in the Copa Libertadores. While reaching the quarterfinals in the most prestigious South American competition, the league form dipped accordingly. Despite having the chance to win the annual table, they lost game after game to end the year.

Will he continue? Coach Gustavo Munúa. (Photo:
At the end of the day, the record champion was lucky that Racing Club was present enough to beat CA Cerro. Nacional had even slipped into danger of missing the 2017 Copa Libertadores completely, which would have been a complete disaster for Gustavo Munúa's men. The former goalkeeper, along with club management, built a good team that competed in both competitions for the longest time.

Once injuries and Copa América ripped core parts out of the team, the obvious fact surfaced: The alternatives are nowhere near the quality of the first team. A lot of blame gets directed towards Munúa, which is not fair in my opinion. The team was carried by Nico López' goalscoring and presence up front for weeks and when he was down and out, Leo Gamalho was supposed to replace him. The same Gamalho that scored a grand total of two goals after arriving to the club from Brazilian side Avaí. In no way was he able to replace the previously departed Iván Alonso or the injured López. The former captain was missed in every way, despite the club's decent success.

Two further players that had been among the best all season, Jorge Fucile and Mauricio Victorino, were called up for the Copa América Centenario by Uruguay and missed the last two games of the Clausura season as well. Poor defensive sequences and the obvious losses to average teams such as Rentistas and Liverpool followed. During yesterday's last game of the season, a 0-2 loss to Liverpool, the team completely lost its cool and had three players sent off: Eguren on the bench, Gamalho and captain Polenta on the field. There are ways you can go out of the season with your heads held high, this was not one of them.

Nevertheless, a weak season with five losses and just seven wins in 15 games are the remainders to go along with nice memories of the Libertadores campaign. Nacional finished fourth in the league, were even overtaken by Montevideo Wanderers on Saturday. From my personal view, there are still many positives one can build on next year. For example, some individual seasons were outstanding. Not only Nico López fully convinced upon his return, Esteban Conde did really well in goal throughout the season, being supported by Victorino and Diego Polenta. Both had their ups and downs, but were usually there when it mattered most. Left-back Alfonso Espino made a lot of progress and Jorge Fucile was probably the best player aside from López.

For the club, it would be very important to keep their best players for next year as well. To have any chance of a larger development, Nacional should continue to move forward with Munúa. They have the advantage of not having to play in the Copa Sudamericana in the fall, as the champion of Uruguay (Plaza Colonia or Peñarol) will qualify along with the 4th, 5th and 6th best teams. It gives the team the opportunity to concentrate on the Apertura, which is well needed after the disastrous end to 2015/16.

Until next season. (Photo:
One thing that is for certain in the midst of all questions? The fans will continue to walk into Gran Parque Central next year as well and make the atmosphere an unforgettable one.


Post a Comment