Uruguay vs Portugal Preview



Will Ronaldo steal the show as Portugal face Uruguay? (Image from bettingtop10.com)

Two heavyweights clash in this enticing round-of-16 tie between Uruguay and Portugal. Uruguay were one of only three teams to have won all of their group stage games. Although they grinded out results against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, they dominated against Russia in their last match and that could spur them on to clinch the victory in Saturday’s game. Portugal weren’t spectacular in their group, only winning one of their games, but everyone is fully aware that their captain is more than capable of producing game-changing moments out of nothing. He may have missed a penalty in their loss to Iran, but Portugal’s number 7 knows how to turn up in the big games, as we witnessed with his superb hat-trick, in the thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain.  Uruguay also have big game players, in Suarez and Cavani, who form one of the best strike partnerships at the World Cup. These two teams have only met twice, with the last time being 46 years ago, and they have never met at the World Cup.


Uruguay’s possible line-up


Uruguay too should have a fully fit squad, with Jose Giminez likely to recover from injury.

Goalkeeper - Fernando Muslera (GK)

After winning his 100th cap against Russia, Muslera should retain his spot in goal.

Defenders - Martin Caceres (RB), Diego Godin (CB), Jose Giminez (CB), Guillermo Varela (LB)

Godin has been arguably one of the best defenders of the tournament and with Giminez alongside him, Uruguay have a formidable centre-back partnerships. This defence will have to be on the top of their game to deal with Ronaldo, but are certainly capable of doing so.

Midfielders - Lucas Torreira (CDM), Nahitan Nandez (RM), Matias Vecino (LM), Rodrigo Bentancur (CAM)

Uruguay’s diamond system worked very well against Russia, so it seems likely that the same formation and players will be used. This midfield have the important job of providing service to Cavani and Suarez, and they must do so successfully for Uruguay to have any chance of winning.

 Strikers - Edison Cavani (CF), Luis Suarez (CF)

Suarez and Cavani are Uruguay’s top two scorers in their country’s history, and will be looking to add to the 96 goals they have together at the international level.


Can Suarez add to his two goals at this World Cup? (Image from BBC)

Portugal’s possible Line-up

Portugal have no fresh injury concerns and are likely to start with a similar team to those played on the group stages.
Goalkeeper - Rui Patricio
Rui Patricio should keep his place in goal after playing all three knockout games.
Defenders – Raphael Guerreiro (LB), Jose Fonte (CB), Pepe (CB), Cedric Soares (RB)
Portugal’s full backs are likely to be Guerreiro and Soares, who are both one booking away from a suspension. Fonte and Pepe should also keep their spots in the back four. The four of them will have their hands full, dealing with the likes of Cavani and Suarez.
Midfielders – Joao Mario (LM), Joao Moutinho (CM), William Carvalho (CM), Ricardo Quaresma (RM)
Quaresma has been impressive at times when used and is likely to start, especially after his fantastic strike against Iran. Portugal do have a lot of competitions for midfield, with Mario, Moutinho and Carvalho likely to start, but Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Adrien Silva also other options the manager could consider.
Strikers – Cristiano Ronaldo (CF),  Andre Silva (CF)
Alongside Ronaldo, the supporting strikers for Portugal haven’t been particularly impressive, with Silva likely to get the nod ahead of Goncalo Guedes, who has wasted several good opportunities.
Quaresma will be hoping to start after his brilliant goal in the last match (Image from Onefootball)


Prediction

These two teams are quite evenly balanced on paper, so we could be in for an entertaining fixture. I think Uruguay might just have the edge in this match, mainly due to their stronger defence. I predict that Uruguay will win 3-2.

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