World Cup Preview: Uruguay v Portugal

Who? Uruguay - Portugal
Where? Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
When? June 30, 20:00 (CET local time)

Uruguay (Gilad Seroussi)

First goal completed, finishing first in the group stage. Not a goal but always nice doing so with 3 wins and without conceding even one goal. Now, with the level of resistance increasing, Uruguay will need to keep the good aspects going and improve the other in order to win one more battle.

The best performance so far was in the last game, when Tabarez gave up on the idea of controlling the tempo of the match and played to the strengths of the squad. 4-3-1-2 formation, with a combative trio in the middle, Bentancur a step forward closer to Cavani and Suarez, and Laxalt supporting the front line from the left band. It appears that el Maestro liked it, as the same players who faced Russia will face Portugal next, apart from the likely return of injured centre-half Josema Gimenez. If Gimenez will be ruled out, Coates will take his place. Both Laxalt and Torreira, in their World Cup starting lineup debut, played really well. The first, running up and down the line being a non-stop headache for the Russians, resulting in a red card early in the game and Cheryshev's own goal. The second, taking control of the middle of the field, gaining possession, running the plays and lighting the imagination of Arsenal's fans hoping to see the deal sealed. The only down side of the new formation was Bentancur who looked a bit uncomfortable in his new position. If needed, the more natural No. 10 of the squad, De Arrascaeta, will be happy to come from the bench to replace Juve's youngster.   

On Saturday evening, afternoon in Uruguay, thousands of Uruguayos in Russia and 3.5 million back home and around the world will stand behind their 11 guerreros. Most of them will not expect lovely football or flashy tricks, nor will they demand a show of superiority. They will want to see the players in celeste living up to the ethos of the Garra Charrua, often misinterpreted as only playing dirty or aggressive, and fighting off the European champions Portugal with all they got until the last whistle. Hopefully, after the whistle la Celeste will go throw forward its next battle in Russia.

 Rodrigo Betancur, will need to get used for his new place alongside Cavani and Suarez (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Rodrigo Betancur, will need to get used for his new place alongside Cavani and Suarez (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Portugal (Yossi Medina)

It was hard, but in the end, Portugal completed the group stage with the spot for the knockout stage. They were one missed shot away from unbelievable lost to Iran. After the final whisle, nobody really remember that, as Fernando Santos and his players will play at the round of 16.

At the last match, a veteran player showed once again how much experience he brings to the team. Ricardo Quaresma is 34 years old but still shows his talent when it is necessary. He doesn't scored too much in the national team, but he knows the right moment to do so. Two years ago, while playing against Croatia in the Euro round of 16, he scored the winning goal at the 117th minute. Against Iran he scored another important goal that worth a lot for Portugal.

Although Portugal played some World Cup games, it will be just their third meeting against South American team. They played twice in the past against Brazil and didn't lost. Uruguay can be a different challenge for Portugal, as they are bringing their fighting spirit.

After missing the knockout stage in 2014 and being eliminated in the round of 16 in 2010, Portugal wants to get back to the top 8 of the tournament. Uruguay wouldn't be an easy opponent, but Portugal is well known as a team that can make this kind of games to possible.

 Ricardo Quaresma, knows the right moment to score (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Ricardo Quaresma, knows the right moment to score (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

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