Uruguay not just focusing on Cristiano Ronaldo

Ruben Holloway
June 30, 2018

One of the three Round of 16 encounters to pitch conventional footballing powerhouses against each other, the Battle of Sochi brings together the Group A winners Uruguay and Group B runners-up Portugal. Tabarez had devised his successful tactical system at a time when Uruguay did not boast of quality central midfielders, but the emergence of the likes of Vecino and Bentancur has comforted the veteran manager.

The Atletico Madrid pair of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez will be charged with keeping Ronaldo quiet, and Portugal coach Fernando Santos warned his side not to expect their captain to win the tie on his own for the European champions.

If Uruguayan defenders manage to get the best of Cristiano Ronaldo and get him sent off early in the game, it might be effectively game over for Portugal in Russian Federation.

The pressure received from rivals is also greater on the part of the Portuguese.

Uruguay defender Sebastian Coates, talking about Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, said: "We will mark him with the same respect we mark everyone, despite him being a superstar".

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Ahead of Saturday's game, he knows Ronaldo and his fellow forward players will have to be in top form to upset a Uruguay side who are yet to concede a goal in this World Cup, and one who found their scoring boots in a 3-0 win over Russian Federation to top their group last week. In midfield, they have one who plays for Juventus and one for Inter.

"We are going to have to work collectively".

"The important thing is to think about the [round of 16] match, think about the game, get to know your adversaries and then to get well prepared mentally and physically, regardless of it being Uruguay or the hosts", Santos said of his team's progress.

Uruguay's formidable defence have not let in a goal at all in 2018, while Suarez has recovered from a poor first outing in Russian Federation to score in wins over Saudi Arabia and the hosts.

The two teams juxtapose one another nicely heading into what could be a frantic round-of-16 clash, too.

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"He is one of the best strikers in the world".

If he plays, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (37) will equal Bastian Schweinsteiger (38) as the player with the most appearances at World Cups and European Championships.

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"We have to play as a team".

"I think we are closer than ever to it". This a World Cup.

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