Uruguay are yet to concede in Russia – really the Diego Godin-led two-time champions are yet to concede a goal in 2018. They have played six, won six, and scored 11 goals.
That is the challenge before Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal team having scraped past Iran, Morocco, and Spain, scoring five and conceding four. For good reading, Ronaldo scored four out of the five goals.
Portugal manager, Fernando Santos, is not afraid of Uruguay’s defensive organisation as he told FIFA TV: “I believe we are going to score and that we will put on the field what we have prepared. I believe that our players are prepared.”
There will be a new ball for the round of 16 with Adidas releasing the Telstar Mechta. Even though Portugal does not have the World Cup history that Uruguay has, Oscar Tabarez is quick to remind everyone that Portugal are the reigning European champions and that means they will come into the match with the experience garnered in winning a major title.
Head to head
They have never met
Current Form [Last 5 matches]
Three duels to watch
Cristiano Ronaldo v Diego Godin
Part of the subplots that run through this encounter is the Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid divide. Godin has faced Ronaldo on numerous occasions so there will be nothing new apart from the fact that the winner goes into the World Cup quarterfinal.
Pepe v Luis Suarez
Pepe is a former Real Madrid defender and has engaged in a physical battle against Barcelona’s Suarez so many times. Suarez has scored twice in this tournament and knows Russia 2018 will almost be the last World Cup, he will attend. Getting to the semifinal at least would cement his status, as one of Uruguay’s greatest goal poachers while Pepe seems to be enjoying another renaissance in Turkey. Expect a lot of dives and fouls in this duel.
Bernardo Silva v Martin Caceres
If Silva plays as well as he can, Caceres would have his hands full. The Manchester City forward possesses silky-smooth skills and a turn of pace though Caceres is a hard-as-nails defender, who also likes to overlap. An intriguing duel – this one!
Referee in charge: 34-year-old César Arturo Ramos Palazuelos, the youngest referee with the longest name is from Mexico. He became a FIFA-graded referee in 2014 and this would be his first World Cup. He was in charge of the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup Final between Real Madrid and Gremio.
WORLD CUP FACT: In the last four FIFA World Cups, the teams that reached the semi-final stage all won their final group match. Uruguay beat Russia 3-0 while Portugal were held 1-1 by Iran, with a last-minute penalty.
Prediction: Portugal 2-1 Uruguay