Uruguay not just focusing on Cristiano Ronaldo

Uruguay not just focusing on Cristiano Ronaldo

Clubless William Carvalho could miss the game for Portugal, having been absent from training in the build-up with a minor injury, but Gelson Martins and Raphael Guerreiro are fit to start. Russian referee Valentin Ivanov issued a record four red cards and 16 yellows, setting a record for cards shown at a World Cup, with Portugal's Deco and Costinha both sent off, along with Khalid Boulahrouz and Giovanni van Bronckhorst for the Dutch.

The question is whether Ronaldo has it in his locker to tear down Uruguayan walls regardless and add to his tally of four goals, with Portugal's supporting cast hoping their record scorer can dazzle once again in Russian Federation.

These two countries with a combined population of 13.5 million have always been overachievers on the global scene - the last decade under Tabarez has seen two-time former winners Uruguay reach one World Cup semi-final and win one Copa America, while Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016.

It was thanks to his header that Uruguay beat Italy 1-0 in their decisive group game in Brazil to reach the last 16 of the last World Cup and even though they fell to Colombia in the next round, the memory of the goal lives on.

"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".

Uruguay switched from the usual 4-4-2 formation to a more fluid 4-3-2-1 against Russian Federation and reaped the benefits, but Oscar Tabarez will probably revert to type in expectation of a low-scoring game.

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No Iran player reacted as they were clearly focusing on trying to get a winning goal, and Ronaldo somehow escaped getting his marching orders.

"They have great players like we do, but we have the best player in the world", Soares told FIFA.com, with Ronaldo set to equal ex-Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger's record of 38 appearances combined in World Cup finals and European Championships.

Uruguay have not exactly set this tournament alight with their attacking play either, but they are more adventurous and have a few more ideas when they come forward.

They had previously edged out Morocco 1-0 after opening their campaign with a thrilling 3-3 draw against local rivals Spain. "It doesn't get any better".

Uruguay and Portugal will come to blows for a place in the quarter-finals of Russian Federation 2018 on Saturday night and more cynical antics are expected. That momentum could prove decisive on Saturday. If Ronaldo is at his very best for Portugal then Uruguay could be in trouble, but that's a big if - he's been distinctly average since the hat-trick against Spain.

A lot will depend on which star players turn up. It's going to be a confrontation between two teams of high quality. It could go all the way in Sochi, but the South Americans should have just enough to edge out the European champions.

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