FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 – Uruguay vs Portugal PREVIEW
This is going to be a battle. It’s Uruguay and Portugal! Uruguay are coming into this game as slight favourites, but Portugal are hardly worse. A game that features superstars like Ronaldo, Suarez and Cavani yet we can expect this to be more of a defensive battle. Uruguay love to defend, Portugal love to grind out results. It’s going to be a great battle between two great sides where one goal could decide everything.
So far, so good for Uruguay. They have won 3 games out of 3 in group A, topped it and got themselves an encounter with Portugal. Throughout the group stages, we saw Uruguay taking a defensive approach against teams while punishing them with every chance when they got forward. However, they haven’t exactly faced a top opponent yet, Russia have been their toughest opponent so far but it was a game where everything was already settle before kick off so players got rested. Ronaldo’s Portugal will the toughest opponent Uruguay have faced in the world cup so far. So far in the world cup, Uruguay beat Egypt and Saudi Arabia 1-0 and beat Russia 3-0. Against Egypt, they really had to work for the win, a late Gimenez header won them the game. Then against Saudi Arabia, Uruguay struggled again. They didn’t look their best, they surrendered possession, but one mistake by Saudi Arabia won Uruguay the game again. However, finally in the last game Uruguay came through playing good football. They beat the hosts Russia 3-0, both strikers got on the scoresheet and they looked much better going forward. Although Russia were down to 10 men for 2/3 of the game, the score was already 2-0 so Uruguay looked solid even up to that moment. It was a sloppy start, but it seems like Uruguay finally caught form in their final game. Suarez and Cavani are starting to play really well while Godin has been absolutely class at the back throughout this tournament, probably the best defender of the tournament. Only weakness with Uruguay was their midfield play, but that has been improving throughout the tournament especially Bentancur who has played well.
Portugal have looked sluggish so far in this campaign. They were literally moments away from being eliminated against Iran. Although Ronaldo has looked very good in this tournament with 4 goals in 3 games, others have not. Portugal have lacked attacking quality in this campaign whereas they have been cut open at the back quite often. Portugal started their campaign with an entertaining 3-3 draw with Spain which was their best performance, they really played well against Spain, Ronaldo scored a hattrick and it seemed like they’d breeze past the other two opponents. However it did not work out that way. They just about beat Morocco 1-0, a game where they got dominated throughout, a 4th minute Ronaldo goal was the difference. It was a game where they did not deserve to win, but Morocco’s lack of finishing cost them. In the final game Portugal drew 1-1 with Iran. It was probably the most controversial game of the tournament involving VAR. Portugal took the lead before half time with an incredible goal by Quaresma and then got a suspect penalty so it seemed like it was over, however Ronaldo missed the pen and Iran started to threaten. Iran won a penalty late in the game which was definitely not a pen, Portugal got done wrong by the ref and Iran equalised. The drama did not end there, Iran managed to get through one on one and missed the shot which essentially kept Portugal alive. Had that shot went in, it would’ve been one of the worst moments in Portuguese football history, they not only would’ve been robbed but also had been eliminated by Iran. Portugal literally went from topping the group in the 88th minute to being one chance conversion away from being eliminated 5 minutes later. It was the most dramatic game we’ve seen at the world cup for sure. Portugal were uninspiring in the group stages overall, kind of reminds how they played in 2016 so we can’t give up on them based on how they looked since they won a tournament playing like this just recently. They love grinding out results and this is what we expect them to do in the knockouts. As for standout players, Ronaldo is the only one who really stands out, you can add Rui Patricio to that list because he made some key saves. However the others have struggled, especially the LB Guerreiro, he’s been very weak at the back. Players like Bernardo Silva and Goncalo Guedes have been uninspiring too, they can do much better.
This is going to be a tactical battle. Both sides tend to love to grind out results. We’ve seen Uruguay surrender possession to Saudi Arabia which shows that they don’t mind allowing the other team to have possession, they’ll take their chances and then hold the opposition off. Portugal are pretty much the same, they don’t need the possession, with Ronaldo’s pace they’ll hit you on the counter and try to take their chances that way. Somebody is going to have to take control of this game since we can’t have both sides defending. We can expect a very intense game. Uruguay’s defensive partnership of Godin and Gimenez will be a very daunting task for Ronaldo and co to break down, meanwhile Portugal themselves are an organised side, although we’ve seen lapses from them you can trust them to sort it out now that the knockouts are here. For Uruguay going forward, Suarez and Cavani must get involved , they need to get Portugal’s LB Guerreiro involved in defensive duties because he’s been very shaky at the back. As for Portugal, somebody other than Ronaldo has to create something they have good creative players but they just haven’t shown up yet. Ronaldo alone won’t be able to break down the world class CB partnership that Uruguay have. Uruguay have two world class strikers so if one doesn’t click, they still have the other which is an advantage for them because if Ronaldo isn’t on his game for Portugal they’re pretty much done. We can expect both sides to play it safely and not commit too many bodies forward because that’s how they’re built. Can’t expect a lot of goals in this game. Both sides are similarly built so this game could get decided by one mistake or even penalties.
Just like the first match, this is going to be incredibly tough to predict. The sides literally play the same brand of football. Uruguay have a better defence but Portugal’s midfield play and having Ronaldo on their team evens everything out. We should be ready for a boring match where neither side will fully commit because they know that conceding a goal first would be very bad knowing how good the other side defend when they have everyone back. It’s a game where one moment might decide everything. We expect this to either go 1-0 to either side or it to get decided by penalties. If we had to pick a winner it’d be Uruguay because they have performed slightly better and have more of a solid defence than Portugal. But looking at this overall it’s a 50/50 game and it will be settled by one goal or penalties.
ODDS – Decimal (BET365)
Uruguay Win (90 mins) – 2.87
Draw (90 mins) – 2.90
Portugal Win (90 mins) – 3.00
To Qualify – Uruguay 1.90 – Portugal 1.90
KICK OFF – 30th June 2018 – 7pm UK Time