In a match that lacked significant chances and risk from both sides, Brazilian powerhouse Corinthians was able to register a positive 0-0 draw against Nacional at a boisterous Estadio Gran Garque Central in Uruguay in the first leg of the round of sixteen of the Copa Libertadores.
The tie will resume next Wednesday night at Arena Coritnhians in São Paulo.
Brazilian league champions Corinthians knew they had a difficult test on Wednesday night in Montevideo. For the second straight year, they had to play a road match to open the round of sixteen of the Copa Libertadores. In addition, for the second straight year that important away match has come right after losing the São Paulo state league semifinals at home in a penalty shootout.
Corinthians knew that they had to keep their form after a tough loss to Audax on Saturday at Arena Corinthians. Last year, a loss to rival Palmeiras eliminated not only their chances at reaching the state league final, but any confidence in their Copa Libertadores matchup. They ended up losing the first match on the road 2-0 to underdog Guarani, and eventually lost the return matchup as well.
Timão manager and mastermind Tite made sure his team would not suffer a collapse in formation like the club did last season in the same competition.
"The tension I had was that the team continue with confidence to do what you know, what is your school. It lacked the last third, but also for marking the opponent," Tite said in his post match press conference. "In the second half we had difficulty also inside. This maturity is unavoidable. You can not have disqualified the Paulistão and find hero or guilty. It's a maturity process."
"This maturity is unavoidable. You can not have disqualified the Paulistão and find hero or guilty. It's a maturity process." - Corinthians Manager Tite
Despite fan outcry for him to start Marlone and Ángel Romero, Tite stayed true to form and started Alan Mineiro and André. Starting Mineiro allowed Tite to have a blanket on the right hand side, as Mineiro is much more reliable defensively then Marlone.
Surrenduring to the flow
Brazilian media were unhappy at how much the referee allowed the Nacional players to provoke their opponent. On many occasions, some Uruguayan players would add a little shove or stick their foot out after a tackle to annoy and try and get a response from the Brazilian side.
Nacional were the team with the most red cards in the group stage of the tournament, with a total of four players being sent off in their first group matches. Two of those sending offs occurred in their matchup with Corinthians' hated crosstown rival Palmeiras.
Sold Out, Again
Before the first leg, Tite mentioned that a tie away from home would be a good result, but a tie with goals away from home would be great. He received his good result, and Corinthians now have the chance to clinch their spot in the quarterfinals at home in front of another sellout at Arena Corinthians.
The Arena, which was built to host matches in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, is expected to be renamed before the start of the Brazilin League in May. Corinthians are in the final stage of negotiating the naming rights to their home ground. While the investor will be able to market their brand around the stadium, it will not be in the name of the actual arena. According to GloboEsporte, the two names being considered are 'Arena da Fiel' and 'Arena da Paixao'.
As part of the agreement for the naming rights to Arena Corinthians, the new investor will control Fiel Torcedor, the club's membership program. The program, which has 131,000 subscribers, is the seventh largest in world football according to Movimento por um Futebol Melhor.
Return Leg Info
Corinthians X Nacional
When: Wednesday, May 4th, 2016.
Where: Arena Coritnhians, Itaquera, São Paulo.
Aggregate after first leg: 0-0