The World Cup 2018’s group stage is almost heading towards its end. 8 teams have qualified for the round of 16 stage. Uruguay and Portugal are two of them and they will be facing each other in the round of 16 on 30th June at 9 PM local time at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi. Both teams have their pros and cons. While Uruguay is a better all-round team, Portugal has its star players too.
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With strikers like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani and Experienced defenders like Martín Cáceres and Diego Godin and a young Centre back like José Giménez, who has also scored a winner against Egypt in their first game, and with supports like Matías Vecino and Rodrigo Bentancur in midfield, Uruguay looks strong on paper and to back that up, they have won all of their games in the group stage. While on the other, Portugal has not won all games in the group stage and they have been totally dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo who bagged 4 out of 5 goals that Portugal has scored in the group stage.
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They played a very tight fixture against the Spanish team, who has one of the best squads in the world right now. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hattrick against the Spanish side and help his team to a draw. Another big name in the Portuguese squad is the veteran defender Pepe, who has lead his team’s defence and saved them in multiple close situations. Rui Patrício, the Portuguese goalkeeper has also been an inspiration for the side by making some tremendous saves, especially against Morocco. The Uruguayan coach, Óscar Tabárez, needs to come up with the similar tactics that the Iranians used against Portugal to contain Cristiano Ronaldo. Ricardo Quaresma also contributed to his team qualifying for the round of 16 when he scored a brilliant goal with his outer against Iran.
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Both the teams have played the tournament with the 4-4-2 formation so far. This formation is commonly used in football. It gives them more strength in the midfield and the attack mainly focuses on the flanks. That is one of the reasons that both the teams brilliant when it comes to the counter-attack. In this setup, there are only two attackers and both of them play a central role. Uruguay has Cavani and Suarez, both of whom are regarded as two of the strikers in the world right now. On the other hand, Ronaldo has been unable to find a permanent partner in this position.
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Goncalo Guedes has recently been chosen as an option in this position but failed to deliver in the world cup group stage so far. Andre Silva is also another option for them in that particular area but he hasn’t been given a proper chance so far. Willian Carvalho has also been very important in the recent past but he too was a bit shaky in the match against the Moroccan side. Bernardo Silva is another option in the midfield but just like Andre Silva, he hasn’t been given many opportunities in the starting XI.
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Portugal and Uruguay have played each other only twice in the past and never have they ever faced each other in a competitive tournament. Portugal has one game and drawn the other game, so Uruguay has basically never won a game against Portugal. This would be the first time they play each other in the world cup tournament and that too in the knockout stage.
This match would be the second match of the knockout stage, with first being that of Ronaldo’s rival, Lionel Messi. Uruguay is favorite on paper going into the match, but with Cristiano Ronaldo on the opposite side, you can’t take your chances for granted, especially with the form he is in lately.