Uruguay, Portugal set for heavyweight last 16 clash

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Uruguay-VS-Portugal

Uruguay and Portugal will meet for a heavyweight last 16 clash in the 2018 World Cup, set for the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on Saturday, June 30, kick-off at 20h00 CAT.

Uruguay

Uruguay’s campaign at Russia 2018 has been great on paper: three wins to top Group A, five goals scored and none conceded.

However, only in their 3-0 win over the hosts on Monday afternoon – where strikes from forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani sandwiched an own goal from Russia’s Denis Cheryshev – did ‘La Celeste’ finally look like they had gotten out of second gear.

Suarez and Cavani are a formidable duo
Suarez and Cavani are a formidable duo

Their earlier 1-0 wins over Egypt and Saudi Arabia were far from convincing, though coach Oscar Tabarez will argue that his team is merely gaining momentum and finding their form at just the right time.

Portugal

Portugal is arguably lucky to have even qualified from Group B: their 1-1 draw with Iran on Monday night was fraught with danger and even saw the Asian side miss a late chance to win the game – which would have put the ‘Navigators’ out of the tournament.

Coach Fernando Santos’ side has thus far relied on individual brilliance: Cristiano Ronaldo’s four goals have earned them four points from matches against Spain (3-3) and Morocco (1-0) where they were outplayed, while Ricardo Quaresma’s sublime goal against Iran helped secure progression.

Ronaldo is already a contender for the Golden Boot
Ronaldo is already a contender for the Golden Boot

Ronaldo will once again be the key figure: if he can continue his scoring form, then Portugal have a chance against a Uruguay side which looks a much more cohesive unit. ‘La Celeste’ defenders such as Diego Godin will know that keeping the Real Madrid man quiet will give their team the perfect platform to win the game and advance into the quarterfinals.

Uruguay VS Portugal

In head-to-head terms, Uruguay and Portugal have met in just two matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. Both were friendlies decades ago: a 1-1 draw in Rio de Janeiro in July 1972 and a 3-0 win for the ‘Navigators’ in Lisbon in June 1966.

This time around, Uruguay’s superior team play and solid defence should see them through, but the fact that Portugal can call on arguably the world’s most potent finisher in Ronaldo gives them an underdog shot at upsetting the South Americans.

Uruguay v Portugal – head-to-head

Matches played 2
Uruguay wins 0
Portugal wins 1
Draws 1
Uruguay goals 1
Portugal goals 4