All eyes will be on Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as Euro Champions Portugal gear up for their round of 16 clash vs Luis Suarez led Uruguay.
Portugal will start as the favourites but Uruguay aren’t pushovers as they are the only team not to have concede a single goal so far. Portugal have won only one game against Morocco as they drew versus Iran and Spain.
Led by their talisman Luis Suarez, Uruguay have won all three matches so far. Their defence looks rock solid with captain Diego Godin taking the charge and a struggling Portugal will find it tough to find the back of the net.
As expected, CR7 has led the way for Portugal scoring four out of their five goals. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio has been the other bright spot in an otherwise disappointing Portuguese side.
The clash between the Latin American giants and the European champions will be held on June 30th as old foes Suarez and Ronaldo will face off once again in what is expected to be a mouthwatering match.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the focal point of this otherwise vulnerable Portugal side. They were able to rescue a point against Spain thanks to a Ronaldo special and just scraped past Morocco.
Rui Patricio will start in goal with Pepe and Jose Fonte forming the centre-back partnership in front of him. Raphael Guerreiro and Cedric Soares will start as the full-backs.
Midfielder William Carvalho is still a doubt after he missed training but Joao Moutinho Is expected to start after coming off the bench against Iran. Joao Mario, Adrien Silva and Ricardo Quaresma are expected to retain their place in the line-up
AC Milan forward Andre Silva will join Ronaldo in the attack to form a potent front two backed by a very capable midfield, as shown by Quaresma in the last match.
Fernando Santos has turned this side into a very competitive and hardworking unit. They are a very tough side to beat with a solid defence and somehow they always find a way to win.
Euro 2016 was testament to this, and the players are now confident and have a winning mentality, something which is hard to get.
Talking Corner “They are a typical South American side.”
“It’s not just in this World Cup that they have not been conceding goals – it has been like that for the whole of 2018.”
-Portugal Coach Fernando Santos
Injury Concerns: Gelson Martins (Muscle), William Carvalho (Muscle)
Uruguay started the tournament as Dark Horses but their odds have increased two-fold after their performance in the group stage. They have not been very attractive going forward but boast of a very tight defence. Luis Suarez in attack and Diego Godin in defence have been the key for them, and it will remain the same on Saturday.
Fernando Muslera has been excellent for them at this World Cup and will start again in goal. Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez will start in front of him with Martin Caceres and Guillermo Varela playing as the full-backs.
Juventus youngster Rodrigo Bentancur has been the surprise package for Uruguay, as predicted Earlier by The Statesman, (2018 FIFA World Cup | Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani, Focal points of a strong Uruguay Squad) in the middle of the field. Inter Milan star Matias Vecino, Carlos Sanchez and new Arsenal signing Lucas Torreira will join him to form formidable midfield four.
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are the most lethal striking duo in the tournament, at least on paper. They have scored three goals so far and are slowly coming into their grove. They add to the unpredictability of this dangerous side.
Oscar Tabarez has been with the team for a long time now and knows his players well. He has brought this Uruguay side back to the World Stage with impressive performances in 2010 World Cup and 2011 Copa America.
Talking Corner “We need to improve very quickly [from the performance against Russia], because any match in the round of 16 will be extremely difficult.”
“For me the holy grail of football is the word ‘balance’. When we attack we need to be able to attack, but it doesn’t come from an abstract suggestion.”
-Uruguay Coach Oscar Tabarez
Injury Concerns: Jose Gimenez (Thigh)
Likely starting 11: (4-4-2) Muslera, Varela, Gimenez, Godin, Caceres, Sanchez, Torreira, Vecino, Bentancur, Suarez, Cavani
Super Stats: This is only the third meeting between the two sides at the World with Portugal winning one and the last one ending in a Draw in 1972.
Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to score in knockout stages of the World Cup, having played 424 minutes. He will definitely be looking to break this jinx.
Luis Suarez (7) needs just one more goal to equalise Oscar Miguez (8) as the all time top-scorer for Uruguay at the World Cup.