Portugal have made it through to the last 16 of World Cup 2018, where they will play Uruguay in Sochi on Saturday for a place in the quarter-finals.

"Mission accomplished" was the general consensus from the Seleção players and coach Fernando Santos, although the less-than-brilliant performances so far in Russia will have given the coach plenty of food for thought.

The 1-1 draw against Iran threw up plenty of additional talking points. In the latest PortuGOAL World Cup 2018 podcast we assess the performances of Portugal's players against the Asian team, discuss the VAR contorversies, have our say on Carlos Queiroz and look ahead to the Uruguay clash.

    

Here are few things we learned as Portugal make the World Cup knockout stage for the fourth time in history.

Defence settled but Raphael worry

Rui Patricio and the back four have played every minute so far at the World Cup, with Cédric Soares, Pepe, José Fonte and Raphael Guerreiro undoubtedly Fernando Santos’ first choice. The defence that steered Portugal home at Euro 2016 have been trusted to get the job done in Russia.

Guerreiro was ruthlessly exposed by Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat and was given little help from his teammates. Iran followed suit as Alireza Jahanbakhsh targeted Portugal’s left-back who picked up a first half booking for a late challenge on the right winger.

Uruguay might not have the weapons to target Guerreiro as effectively, but it is becoming a problem Santos and Portugal need to solve.

Where is the love?

William Carvalho doesn’t seem to be appreciated. His style may be at odds with the likes of N'Golo Kanté, but what he lacks in speed he makes up for with passing range, positional play and ability to stifle the opposition.

The Sporting Clube de Portugal man could finally get his move to a bigger club this summer where we will see if he can cut it at a higher level. Having just turned 26, he has time to prove people wrong and silence the haters.

Guedes & Silva conundrum

Gonçalo Guedes played himself into the starting line-up at the expense of André Silva before making way against Iran. From what we have seen thus far, Guedes’ versatility and ability to operate more effectively on either wing gives him the edge.

It might be too soon to see Guedes and Silva start together, but there is little doubt they will be Seleção mainstays for years to come.

Quintessential Quaresma

Bernardo Silva’s struggles opened the door for Quaresma to make his first World Cup start against Iran. He took the bull by the horns, a quick 1-2 before a trademark trivela into the top corner to open the scoring.

We saw the dark side when he became frustrated and reacted with an embarrassing childish challenge. Those two moments encapsulates Quaresma and Santos removed him soon after, but the 34-year-old just might be the spark needed to get the Portuguese attack firing.

Ronaldo

We didn’t need any reminding did we? The records keep falling as Portugal’s saviour scored a hat-trick against Spain, his 51st career treble and first at the World Cup. He headed in the winner against Morocco and had a penalty saved against Iran to spoil his perfect start.

There’s not much more to say about Cristiano, just watch and enjoy it while it lasts.

Finishing second hurts

Portugal had every chance to take top spot in Group B and take advantage of Spain’s slip against Morocco. Ronaldo’s missed spot kick and a bad decision to award Iran a late penalty puts Portugal on a much more difficult road to the World Cup final.

Finishing first was a big advantage the way the draw is shaping up. 

Despite that, Força!

By Matthew Marshall

Related: Controversy denies Portugal top spot in Group B after 1-1 draw against Iran

Related: Queiroz - "Ronaldo should have seen red" | Quaresma: "Queiroz should show more respect" 

Comments (3)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Portugal seemed to play better against Spain than the other teams so I imagine playing against Uruguay, France and Brasil will bring g out our A game vs, playing against Russia, Croatia and Belgium.

I hope Santos knows his winning cocktail and...

Portugal seemed to play better against Spain than the other teams so I imagine playing against Uruguay, France and Brasil will bring g out our A game vs, playing against Russia, Croatia and Belgium.

I hope Santos knows his winning cocktail and was keeping his recipe a secret to unleash on teams in the knockouts.

I also hope everyone keeps a cool head and the yellow cards go away.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Portugal traditionally (regardless of our coach) tend to play to the level of their opponent, so I am expecting us to treat the Uruguay match like a final. The Uruguayans are rightfully praised for their superb defensive record, but they really...

Portugal traditionally (regardless of our coach) tend to play to the level of their opponent, so I am expecting us to treat the Uruguay match like a final. The Uruguayans are rightfully praised for their superb defensive record, but they really haven't been tested by quality opposition. The Godin-Gimenez partnership is arguably the strongest at this world-cup, but Ronaldo is more than capable of scoring against any defense in world football. That being said, Ronaldo's partner (whether it's Andre Silva or Goncalo Guedes) really need to step up. Ronaldo will inevitably draw the attention of Uruguay's back line, so his strike partner should get at least one decent look at goal.

With regards to tactics, this will be a match against two of the most pragmatic coaches in elite international football. Both Fernando Santos and Oscar Tabarez prefer to coach tight, cagey games, and they are always more concerned with nullifying their opponent's strengths than exploiting their weaknesses.

Uruguay generally line up in a narrow 4-4-2 diamond as it allows them to maintain a disciplined and compact defensive structure while also accommodating Suarez and Cavani in a mobile front two. There really isn't a great deal of pace (or natural width) in this Uruguayan side, so I hope that Santos isn't afraid to give Guerreiro and/or Cedric the license to push forward.

Both Santos and Tabarez prefer to their teams not to have the ball, so I wouldn't be surprised to see both teams take a cautious approach when in possession. Portugal have more technical quality top to bottom, and with the likes of Bernardo Silva, Guedes, Quaresma, and Gelson at Santos' disposal, we have the potential to shake things up tactically. That being said, this game has extra-time written all over it.

I'd personally opt for a 4-3-3 with Moutinho, Adrien, and William in the middle and Ronaldo, Andre Silva, and Guedes up top.

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Agree with consensus on here. We seem to step up against better opposition. Uruguay will be very tough similar to us in some ways.

If we do have any chance of winning it we have to beat some great teams on the way.

Forca Portugal

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