In the second clash of the day, Uruguay will be facing Portugal in what’s forecasted as a very tight affair.
Finding the right balance
Portugal did not fascinate with their performances in the group stage and despite having lot more attacking talent in their roster compared to the team that won the Euro two years ago, their defensive line appears shaky and they are struggling to find the right balance between their lines.
Fernando Santos has introduced Guedes in his 4-4-1-1 formation but despite an excellent season with Valencia, the 21 year old forward has failed to impress so far in a very demanding pairing with Cristiano Ronaldo up front. Gelson Martins has not yet featured despite his performance throughout the season.
After missing the Euro due to injury, Bernardo Silva is a regular starter on the left flank, with Joao Mario or Ricardo Quaresma on the right side of the midfield, depending on the opposition and match needs.
With Laxalt as left back and a packed diamond midfield for Uruguay, it remains to be seen Fernando Santos’ approach. Will he take a more conservative approach with Joao Mario in an effort to control the neuralgic midfield area with an extra man or will he throw Quaresma straight away on Laxalt?
We are expecting Santos to field Joao Mario along with Carvalho and Moutinho to balance against Uruguay’s midfield, with Cristiano alone up-front.
Gelson Martins’ pace and mobility would be an excellent option to sustain Laxalt from going forward too much and exploit the 25 year old’s defensive inefficiencies.
Realism & fighting spirit
Uruguay finished top of their group, beating hosts Russia in the final matchday, with Muslera keeping a clean sheet in all three matches so far. Oscar Tabarez has managed to blend instrumentaly the players at his disposal, with a very competitive diamond 4-4-2 straight out of Football Manager and Fernando Santos’ wet dreams. Diamond 4-4-2 has been one of Santos’ favorite tactics throughout his career and it remains to be seen how the Portuguese Euro winner coach will approach Uruguay’s style of play.
We are expecting a hard-working Uruguay first eleven, fighting for every ball and looking for fast attacking transition once they regain possession. Tabarez will most certainly expect his midfielders to target Suarez’s movement off the ball which will definitely create headaches for the bradykinetic Pepe and Jose Fonte.