Portugal take on Uruguay at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi in the 2018 World Cup Round of 16.

It shapes up as in intriguing battle with wily coaches Fernando Santos and Óscar Tabárez coming face to face.

PortuGOAL breaks down how both teams got to this stage, the key players and the tactical issues ahead of Saturday night’s big game.

 

How Portugal got here

Portugal twice took the lead against Spain but were pegged back each time and trailed 3-2 with minutes to go. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped with a late free kick to complete his hat-trick and seal the draw which in many ways felt like a win.

The Seleção weren’t at their best against Morocco but Ronaldo’s early header proved the difference. Iran should have been taken care of but Ricardo Quaresma’s stunner was cancelled out by a dubious penalty in added time and Ronaldo’s earlier penalty saved.

How Uruguay got here

Uruguay haven’t been at their best in Russia but won all three Group A games without conceding a goal. La Celeste left it late against Egypt with José Giménez heading in for a 1-0 win. It was the same score against Saudi Arabia with Luis Suárez on target.

Russia were up next as the South Americans capitalised on Igor Smolnikov’s first half red card to run out easy 3-0 winners. Suárez and Edinson Cavani got on the scoresheet with Lucas Torreira impressing in his first start of the tournament.



Portugal’s key players

Cristiano Ronaldo is used to breaking records but there a significant one eluding him. Eusébio bagged nine goals at the 1966 World Cup to be Portugal’s all-time top scorer in the competition. Ronaldo is now two behind after taking his tally to seven against Morocco.

There isn’t much we haven’t seen from the Seleção superstar who now has 85 goals from 153 caps. We know his capabilities and hopefully he can keep delivering and lifting his teammates to keep Portugal’s World Cup hopes alive.

Pepe might be an annoying character at times but there is no doubting his importance for Portugal. A driving force at Euro 2016, the 35-year-old will have to be at his best with two of the best strikers in football in his path.

Uruguay’s key players

Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani have been regular goal scoring machines for club and country. With 96 combined international goals they are one of the most lethal striker partnerships in world football.

Diego Godin has been a permanent fixture in the heart of the Atletico Madrid central defence which is one of the meanest in Europe. It will be a blow for Uruguay if his club teammate Jose Gimenez is unable to recover in time.

Portugal’s tactics & team

Fernando Santos loves his fluid 4-4-2 with wingers cutting inside and full-backs providing width. He is unlikely to change here and could see an opportunity to get around a narrow Uruguay side.

I expect Quaresma to keep his place and Gonçalo Guedes to come back in for André Silva. João Moutinho could return for Adrien Silva or Santos might go with both of them either side of William if Santos decides on an extra central midfielder.

Raphael Guerreiro has been a liability in the past two games and needs help defensively. We will see if Uruguay target him and how that affects the game.

Uruguay’s tactics & team

Tabárez has been tinkering with his midfield making two changes in each game. Matías Vecino and Rodrigo Bentancur have started every match with Lucas Torreira earning his first start against Russia and playing well.

Guillermo Varela and Diego Laxalt compete for a full-back spot while Sebastián Coates will continue if José Giménez can’t recover. Suárez and Cavani speak for themselves.

What an occasion

This will be Portugal’s 30th game at their fifth consecutive World Cup and seventh overall. Getting to the knockout rounds for the fourth time in Seleção history shouldn’t be taken for granted, but the players and supporters know they can achieve more.

Ronaldo is playing in his fourth World Cup so enjoy it while it lasts. It’s time to believe that anything is possible, come together and unite as Portugal take on Uruguay and the world.

Força!

By Matthew Marshall

 

Comments (18)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Joao Mario can't and shouldn't ever play left wing ever again, there's just no point to it. He offers nothing but passing the ball backwards. I just don't understand why Santos doesn't play guys in their natural positions. If he wants the 442...

Joao Mario can't and shouldn't ever play left wing ever again, there's just no point to it. He offers nothing but passing the ball backwards. I just don't understand why Santos doesn't play guys in their natural positions. If he wants the 442 then put Guedes on the left, Quaresma on the right and Ronaldo and Silva up top. Adrien Silva can partner William in the middle and both of them can just break up plays and distribute the ball outside or over the top. With this team the way it's assembled with these players and their skill sets...that's all we can do. We have no buildup through the middle and it's embarrassing. We're not playing like historical Portugal under Santos, yeah I'm happy we won the euros but in some ways I don't like it. Why can't Santos find a proper fast/skilled player through the middle and still play defensively? So many questions with obvious answers and it's not being solved and that my friends is why we'll go home with no trophy. How can we possibly think that we can shut down all of these high powered offenses game after game after game and win but not actually score goals? Hope I'm wrong.

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Agree with your thoughts, my extra two cents.

Guedes should be in left wing. When he played Valencia, they were dangerous because of his pace and passing. Understand Guedes being tried up front, but time to put him where he is currently most...

Agree with your thoughts, my extra two cents.

Guedes should be in left wing. When he played Valencia, they were dangerous because of his pace and passing. Understand Guedes being tried up front, but time to put him where he is currently most effective, on the left wing.

If Joao Mario must play(not advocating, just stating Fernando's preference), then maybe he should be a number 10 behind Ronaldo upfront. When he finally achieved consistency at West Ham, that is what he played. Don't think Andre Silva is going to trouble Godin and Gimenez with his current form, as his main strength is in the air. Or use Gelson for pace testing the speed of the back defensive line. Not sure who can partner with Ronaldo, but Guedes needs to be on left wing.

Time to get serious and get the most out of the players we have.

Quaresma needs to attack more, more Trivela passes and shots, more crosses. Guedes needs to attack(and defend) from left wing. He was great working with Gaya(Left Back) at Valencia. Rafa is a better player, so could be a very effective combo.

William needs to understand, some counter attacks are worth the risk of moving fast. He can't always slow down our counters. I appreciate his calmness, but urgency is needed if the play dictates it.

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We really need others to step up.

Bernando Silva,Joao Mario,Guedes,Guerreiro are much better than their current play suggests. Hopefully they start showing their quality in the knockout stages.

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My 11

-----------------Patricio-------------------

Cedrid------Pepe---Fonte--Guerreiro

---Moutinho----William----Adrien----

Quaresma-------CR7--------Guedes

Any other striker than Ronaldo will get eaten up by Godin & Jimenez. These guys are...

My 11

-----------------Patricio-------------------

Cedrid------Pepe---Fonte--Guerreiro

---Moutinho----William----Adrien----

Quaresma-------CR7--------Guedes

Any other striker than Ronaldo will get eaten up by Godin & Jimenez. These guys are legit world class defenders.
I dont think you can go back to Bernardo, Mario or Fernandes...They mall missed their opportunity to start, maybe come off the bench.
I hope we play on the counter, if we do I think we need start both Moutinho & Adrien in the midfield to break up plays & get the ball to quickly up the field, not to mention their experience & clam they would bring to the side.
Forca

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I'm a big fan of the formation that was shown on the right, the only difference that I would cherish is replacing J. Mario with the pace of Guedes. With that 4-3-3 formation we won't get overrun in the middle of the park, and we'll add speed on...

I'm a big fan of the formation that was shown on the right, the only difference that I would cherish is replacing J. Mario with the pace of Guedes. With that 4-3-3 formation we won't get overrun in the middle of the park, and we'll add speed on the left side through Guedes and the black sorcery of Quaresma on the right. We'll leave it to Moutinho and Adrien Silva to dictate the pace of the match, as I think they're better than most of Uruguay's midfielders and we'll let William shield our defensive line by breaking down the play of Uruguay. If we can manage to nullify the midfielders of our opponents, then they won't be able to provide service or assistance to Suarez and Cavani (whom are unable to create opportunities by themselves) and then it's just up to Ronaldo to smash home a few goals.

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Not gonna discuss formation or players form because these things don't influence Santos team selection. Just want our defenders to keep their head against the antics of Suarez.

There's no pressure on us as none of the pundits consider us to go...

Not gonna discuss formation or players form because these things don't influence Santos team selection. Just want our defenders to keep their head against the antics of Suarez.

There's no pressure on us as none of the pundits consider us to go through. It's time to do the thing this team does well and i.e. to prove the critics wrong. FORCA!!!!

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Portugal needs to revert to a 433 against Uruguay to match up tactically with their narrow midfield. Because Uruguay plays narrowly, they often times rely on their fullbacks to provide width and add something to their game that isn’t getting the...

Portugal needs to revert to a 433 against Uruguay to match up tactically with their narrow midfield. Because Uruguay plays narrowly, they often times rely on their fullbacks to provide width and add something to their game that isn’t getting the ball to EC and LS straight up the middle. In the 433 Portugal will have 2 direct wingers (2 of CR7, RQ20, GG17, and GM18) which will pin back the fullbacks. This will completely nullify their width and allow Cédric and Guerreiro to tuck in a little and focus on the front two strikers, and with William patrolling the area in front of Pepe and Fonte, Portugal should be able to keep LS and EC relatively quiet. Uruguay will probably resort to balls over the top which we all know favors our tall pillars at the center of defense. Uruguay is expecting to find Ronaldo centrally, looking to finish crosses into the box and such. Because of this, i say Portugal play Andre Silva as the Striker alone. If nothing else, he’s over 6’ and has a big frame. I know he isn’t our best offensive player, but I think having him on the field will give Uruguay’s defense a decoy bone to chew on while CR7 wrecks havoc on the LW (drifting into the box late when crosses coming into the box from the RW). Check out my lineup below! Portugal can and will win this game. In Santos we trust. Força Portugal.

Patrício
Cédric Pepe Fonte Guerreiro
William
Moutinho Adrien Silva
RQ20/GG17 Cristiano Ronaldo
Andre Silva

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I would love for us to go back to 433 but we all know that ain’t happening.

It’s time to start Manuel Fernandes. That LM spot has been a huge problem under Santos. Manuel plays that position year round for Lokomotiv. He can’t be worse than...

I would love for us to go back to 433 but we all know that ain’t happening.

It’s time to start Manuel Fernandes. That LM spot has been a huge problem under Santos. Manuel plays that position year round for Lokomotiv. He can’t be worse than anything we’ve seen thus far.

Rui Patricio
Cédric Pepe Fonte Guerreiro
Bernardo Adrien William Manuel
Guedes Ronaldo

Let’s hope Bernardo and Guedes finally step up and there’s no Yellows for crucial players. Let’s go on and win this!

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The question here is when Suarez bites Pepe. Does Pepe in turn become a vampire or just need a tetanus shot?

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

For sure a tetanus shot!

Maybe he will turn into Batman!

Appreciate the levity and humor.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I think the formation on the left appears more plausible. I have no doubt Guedes and Adrien Silva will start so I would put him in place of Moutinho in 442 but I do have my doubts joao mario is best choice right now if only he was performing...

I think the formation on the left appears more plausible. I have no doubt Guedes and Adrien Silva will start so I would put him in place of Moutinho in 442 but I do have my doubts joao mario is best choice right now if only he was performing better. During friendlies is a nice complement to Guerreiro when he moves up and cuts inside to middle where is he more comfortable.

I agree with Ash, perhaps its time to put in a natural LM like Manuel Fernandes and see what he can do?

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Justin, you are pretty much spot on.. makes me feel like there's no point in commenting because we'll essentially be saying the same thing.. honestly (haha)

-----------------CR7-----Andre Silva----------------
-------Guedes-----------------------...

Justin, you are pretty much spot on.. makes me feel like there's no point in commenting because we'll essentially be saying the same thing.. honestly (haha)

-----------------CR7-----Andre Silva----------------
-------Guedes--------------------------Quaresma-------
------------------William-----Adrien-----------------------
------Guerreiro-----Fonte-----Pepe-----Cedric-------
--------------------------Patricio----------------------------

Looking at this from Fernando Santos' perspective.. the lineup above is our most balanced and the best we can expect. Portugal playing on the counter-attack is the way he has this team set up. How successful it will be against a side like Uruguay utilizing the same strategy remains to be seen. Gonçalo Guedes taking up the left side ahead of Mário is a no brainer and a must. A natural winger with pace will obviously help us counter better.. something we only saw periodically against Spain, and not really at all against a high pressing Morocco side (not that is was Guedes fault.. playing 442 left him too far up the pitch)

But by moving Guedes to the wing, Andre Silva playing up top next to CR has to be a mere formality. This really isn't rocket science and shouldn't be as difficult as some are making it for Santos to incorporate into the system. CR does not excel as a lone striker. We've discussed this on PortuGoal for years ad nauseam which is why I have to disagree with the picture on the right.

Like Justin said, all we can do is distribute to the sides with William and Adrien. Hopefully Adrien can venture a little more forward like in the last match as well. Apparently William is one of the fastest players on this team.. though it isn't his style. Not saying I don't like his style or disregarding the effectiveness he has on this system. His long ball accuracy is actually fantastic for counter-attacking purposes but if he doesn't run/cover as much ground as humanly possible considering we already have issues with two aging center backs.. He (Wiliam) will always need a player like Adrien to assist him with the dirty work and therefore any attack Portugal might've been able to conjure up through the middle will suffer as a result.

My only other concern is starting Quaresma and having him on for 120 potential minutes. If his body still allowed him to carry on that long, he would undisputedly be starting every match including qualifiers. The reality is it doesn't and he's automatic to take penalties which he why he needs to still be on the field in case that scenario arrives. I would take Gelson Martins ahead of Bernardo on the right and I don't see the big risk in making this decision either given what Bernardo has provided on both ends of the pitch so far.

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