Published: Sat, June 30, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Cristiano Ronaldo is the equal of two strikers

Cristiano Ronaldo is the equal of two strikers

The man who has marshalled the best defence in the World Cup so far will relish the task of trying to stop his old foe Cristiano Ronaldo when Uruguay and Portugal meet in Sochi on Saturday.

Both teams went unbeaten in the group stage, though late drama in Group B saw Portugal through as runners-up, while Uruguay won Group A after three wins and are yet to even concede a goal in Russian Federation.

"This is the World Cup and we are playing for our national teams", Suarez told journalists.

Fernando Santos is lacking another defensive-midfield force akin to Carvalho in his squad, although Joao Moutinho could return alongside Adrien Silva in the engine room after starting on the bench against Russian Federation.

These two countries with a combined population of 13.5 million have always been overachievers on the global scene - the last decade under Tabarez has seen two-time former winners Uruguay reach one World Cup semi-final and win one Copa America, while Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016. - Penalty shootouts excluded, Portugal has lost only one of its last 17 games at major tournaments (W8 D8), a 4-0 defeat against Germany at Brazil 2014. In midfield, they have one who plays for Juventus and one for Inter.

Few players embody that determination like the Atletico defender, whose club have so boldly gone toe-to-toe with richer neighbours Real and their world class striker Ronaldo.

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Uruguay will be looking to win their opening four games at a World Cup for only the second time after 1930, when they won the first ever World Cup. And the Portuguese have proved adept at long-range strikes-scoring three times from outside the area-while four of the South Americans' five goals in Russian Federation have come from set pieces, per WhoScored.com.

Cristiano Ronaldo has so far failed to score a single goal for Portugal in the knockout stages of the World Cup: 424 minutes, no goals. Meanwhile, three of Portugal's last four goals have come from outside the box.

Ronaldo began the tournament in spectacular fashion, with his stunning free kick completing a hat trick and snatching a 3-3 draw against Spain at Fisht Stadium.

"We'll be focused. But nine of those Portuguese players on that pitch are European Champions".

Football statisticians Gracenote Sports believe Portugal have a 6% chance of winning the World Cup, while Uruguay's chances are rated at 5%. They are very good at the back, have a couple of excellent forwards and they go from there. "Portugal wants to win".

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