Match Preview: Uruguay – Portugal

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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.

Despite a great season at Valencia, Guedes didn’t exactly gel in well partnering with Cristiano Ronaldo

 

Gelson Martins’ impressive attacking profile

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.

Bernardo Silva’s quality is an invaluable asset for Portugal

 

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?

The CarvalhoMoutinho pairing in the heart of midfield is unlikely to be changed, though an extra man against a packed Uruguay midfield could prove significant.

Portugal’s deep lying playmaker, Joao Moutinho’s passing profile is top-level stuff

 

Carvalho’s passing profile

On the back four SoaresGuerreiroFontePepe in all probability will also remain untouched.

Jose Fonte is not getting any younger

 

Pepe, despite his age is still Portugal’s most reliable central defender. His lack of speed and agility though leave room for doubt

 

We are expecting Santos to field Joao Mario along with Carvalho and Moutinho to balance against Uruguay’s midfield, with Cristiano alone up-front.

Despite his age, Cristiano Ronaldo is all quality. What an impressive attacking profile

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.

Portugal - Uruguay possible lineups

 

 

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.

Godin and Gimenez form one of the best central defenders duo of the tournament, with a defensive minded Caceres on the right and a much more offensive minded Laxalt on the left side of defense.

Diego Godin, definitely among the top-3 central defenders in the world

 

Gimenez’ partnership with Godin at Atletico Madrid is crucial for Uruguay’s defensive efficiency

Torreira, Bentancour, Vecino and Nandez form a complimentary midfield line able to dictate tempo, defend well and promote attacking transition efficiently.

Torreira’s versatility adds depth to the Charruas midfield

 

Bentancour was introduced as an offensive minded central midfielder, but his defensive behavior is not to be taken lightly

Suarez and Cavani up front have been playing together for years, can be lethal in front of goal and against aging Pepe and Jose Fonte the chances of them scoring at least once are high.

Cavani’s attacking profile

 

Suarez’ attacking profile

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.

 

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