Monday, September 5, 2016

Analysis: Nacional - Plaza Colonia

Nacional were hosting Plaza Colonia in an attempt to recover from their 1-2 loss to Danubio a few days ago. They did so successfully by beating the Clausura champions 3-2 at Gran Parque Central.

The first half really did not catch anyone on their feet entertainment-wise, but Nacional played quite well tactically, without allowing much. They took the lead in a fashion typical for this game. Nacional's biggest strength, their speedy wingers, proved vital after 17 minutes when Leandro Barcia was brought down inside the area after a nice run down the left.

Barcia brought down for a penalty.
Veteran striker Sebastián Rodríguez had no big trouble converting into the bottom left corner. However, before the goal, the hosts did not have many clear cut opportunities, a header from Mauricio Victorino after a set piece probably the best. This was often due to a lack of precision on their way forward. 

What worked best remained their wing play, with Barcia, Tabaré Viudez and Kevin Ramírez. While the latter joined Fernández up front to form a striking duo at times, he also joined the rotation with the other two. This saw Ramírez return to his common position from last season, the left wing, with Barcia on the right and Viudez down the middle. It was a smart change by Martín Lasarte's men, considering the lack of balls the actual strikers got up front. 

When he came into the play, Fernández was always dangerous, having another great opportunity to score denied by goalkeeper Dawson (28'). The rotation was ripped apart shortly after though, with Barcia having to leave the game injured. The less flexible oldie Martín Ligüera came on to replace him as true #10. 

On the other side of the ball, they were really well-organized too for the most part and showed some active defense against Plaza's rare attacks. One reason of them being so rare was the early distruction of any sort of attack by gaining a numerical advantage near the ball at all times. 

Three man take the ball away from Plaza's midfielder.
The fact that Nacional did not go to the half-time with the lead was simply down to a lot of bad luck. Plaza Colonia won a freekick about 25m out and the shot would have been an easy save for Esteban Conde. Gonzalo Porras as outside part of the wall deflected the ball and gave it its significant change of direction. It bounced against the inside of the post and in and Villoldo had equalised right before the break.

The second half started very evenly with not too many chances on both ends. Kevin Ramírez was denied by an exceptional reaction from Dawson. Just as Plaza Colonia was improving and applying a solid forecheck, they were punished twice inside one minute and basically sent home. 

Ligüera was sent through on the right side of the area and crossed beautifully for Ramírez. He for some reason could not put the ball across the line, so Fernández helped him out for his second of the night. The second goal seconds later was not much different. Viudez' cross from the right was buried by Ligüera himself this time. It was an emotional moment for the Nacional returnee. 

For obvious reasons, Nacional received a ton more room now and Ligüera could pick his favourite passes out of his magic hat. At least until the visitors struck out of nowhere again. From a throw-in on the right, noone could get the ball away and instead of hitting it for the sidelines, Gonzalo Porras for some reason decided it was a good idea to fire it into the center of his own area, where it was deflected to and Leyes stood where he had to to convert. 

Three against one, but Plaza will score in the middle.
Plaza's goal quickly destroyed any Nacional confidence and they turned hectic and simply bad at the back with inexplicable errors and nearly an own goal from Santiago Romero. The fact that their opponents barely gave them any serious tasks and yet the defense shook considerably is a reason to worry for Nacional going forward. They have some work to do on this end and Lasarte knows it. 

The 3-2 lead on the night was brought across the line and gives them their first three points at least. It leaves the Gran Parque Central crowd happy and that is what matters in the end.


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