Despite three very tentative and largely unsatisfying performances (especially against the less-fancied Morocco and Iran), European champions Portugal managed to escape Group B and find themselves facing 2010’s overachievers, Uruguay in the Round of 16. The South Americans were largely solid in an unspectacular showing in Group A, built off the back of their usual defensive rigour, especially demonstrated by Diego Godin, who currently is a great shout for the best defender in the tournament thus far.

Uruguay vs Portugal Prediction and Preview

Uruguay are the only side thus far in the World Cup who have yet to concede a goal, and one of only three sides to win all three group games. An inherent concern for coach Oscar Tabarez remains (ironically) the lack of profligacy in front of goal; none of Uruguay’s 5 goals have come from open play, and 4 of them have arrived via a set piece. This isn’t for a lack of trying (their 44 shots, 15 on target, 18 off target and 11 blocked all rank in the top 10 at the World Cup), but quality of conversion is a genuine concern.

Portugal’s performances have betrayed the attacking talent on display in their team lineups. 3 of their 5 goals have arrived via set piece or penalty, and Portugal’s creativity is sorely lacking with their shooting numbers ranking in the lower half of all the teams left in the competition. Coach Fernando Santos has done little to suggest his side will play very differently to the defensive strategy that won them Euro 2016, but Portugal’s transitional play and ability to manage ball retention has been severely under-par given the quality of the players in their ranks.

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Tactical Considerations:

Portugal are likely to stick with the 442 system that’s served them in the group stage and most of the players who’ve started with it, but it will be interesting to see Santos’ choices with the attacking lineup. Andre Silva did little to impress against Iran, but it’s unclear if Goncalo Guedes’ physicality will be preferred instead. On the flanks, it’s likely that veteran Ricardo Quaresma did enough to keep a starting position, while Joao Moutinho is largely expected to return to central midfield against Uruguay.

It’s curious if Tabarez will again adjust his tactical approach to cater for Portugal as he did high flying Russia. Assuming that is the case, a 4231 shape is the likely result, with fullbacks Laxalt and Cacares expected to press the wide threat from Portugal back, strangling supply lines to the danger of Ronaldo. The rest of the side has been fairly stable in selection, but the most fascinating clash lies in attack where the feisty Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani face off against equally temperamental Pepe and Jose Fonte, with the latter already having shown some defensive frailties, particularly against Spain and Morocco.

Match Facts & Summary

  Uruguay Portugal
World Cup Base Nizhny Novgorod Moscow
2014 World Cup Finish Round of 16 Group Stage
Total Head to Head Record Played 2, Portugal 1 Win
Head to Head (World Cup Only) Never played against each other in World Cup
Penalty Shootout Record Won 1 of 1 Won 1 of 1
Odds – Result 1.78 2.04
Odds – To Win World Cup 22.00 25.00
Best Odds – Golden Boot Suarez (28.00) Ronaldo (3.95)
Best Odds – Golden Ball Suarez (32.00) Ronaldo (5.00)

 

Our Prediction:

Cristiano Ronaldo will already have fond memories of Sochi having opened the World Cup there with a hat-trick, but Portugal’s inherent performances are too much of a concern to suggest a happy trail against Uruguay. Suarez and Cavani in particular have enjoyed a reasonable level of service in chances created from the well organised transitional play that Tabarez requires, and Uruguay’s defence looks far too capable to handle the danger that will present itself, seemingly inconsistently, from Ronaldo’s side. Portugal have the talent to dominate, but without a clear sign that they can perform effectively, it’s hard to see past a Uruguay win and a close to another World Cup fairytale for CR7.

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* Please note – odds mentioned above are subject to change, so always check the latest published odds to be fully certain before betting.

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