The teams that will face each other in the knock-out phases of the World Cup are starting to be determined, and one of the early stand-out matches is the clash between Uruguay and Portugal who meet in Sochi on Saturday evening.
Uruguay topped Group A, winning all three matches, and are yet to concede a goal in the tournament. By contrast, Portugal came within one kick of going out of the World Cup on Monday night.
Impressive in their 3–3 draw with Spain, they scraped past Morocco and then were pegged back in their match with Iran by a late penalty, and, had winger Mehadi Tarami steered his shot the other side of the post in injury time, it would have been the Iranians who progressed and not the reigning European Champions.
If Portugal are to beat Uruguay, they are probably going to need Cristiano Ronaldo to be back to his best. Hat-trick star of the first game, and scorer of the winner in the second game, he almost went from hero to villain against Iran, missing a penalty, and narrowly avoiding picking up a red card – which would have seemed him ruled out of the Uruguay match – for an elbow on Morteza Pouraliganji.
They will also need to find a way past the resolute Uruguay defence, marshalled by the Atletico Madrid pair of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Giminez. In addition, the Portuguese will need to keep quiet the Uruguayan strike duo of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani, who have yet to hit the heights in this tournament, despite both scoring in their last match against Russia.
Should they choose this match to find, the Portugal defence may find them too much to handle.
Uruguay have looked the most impressive of all the South American teams in the tournament to date, and, based on current form, will start as favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.
Uruguay v Portugal Predictions & Betting Tips:
Uruguay to QualifyOver 2.5 Goals in the Match