It’s all about the defense in the Saturday finale, as Uruguay and Portugal battle for a spot in the quarterfinals. Though this match will feature two of the top offensive talents on the planet in Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, both of these teams have reached this point by playing excellent defense.
Uruguay vs. Portugal Squads
Uruguay didn’t allow a goal in the group stage, and finished Group A play with a blowout win over Russia. That was a huge offensive explosions against the hosts, who went down to 10 men. Uruguay is not a scoring power, and that’s why this matchup could come down to one big play.
Because as content as Uruguay are with playing defense and not scoring, so are Portugal. Fernando Santos has stuck to his defensive, conservative style, the same one that took Portugal all the way to the winner’s podium at Euro 2016. In that tournament, only one game on their way to the title lasted the regulation 90 minutes. Portugal’s 3-3 shootout with Spain was an anomaly, as they’d surely prefer the 1-0 and 1-1 games that followed.
Regardless of the result, both teams have dangerous attackers that could swing the game at any moment. Cristiano Ronaldo has four goals already in this tournament, and Luis Suarez scored the only goal in his team’s win over Saudi Arabia.
Portugal want the defensive style, but could be missing one of their anchors for Saturday. William Carvalho missed training on Thursday, and is in doubt to return to the lineup. Joao Moutinho started the finale against Iran, and could be in line for another start.
Uruguay defender Jose Gimenez missed his team’s group finale with a back injury, but he is also a candidate to make a return.
Uruguay vs. Portugal Lineups
Lineups are released one hour before kickoff
Uruguay: Muslera, Caceres, Godin, Gimenez, Laxalt, Torreira, Vecino, Nandez, Bentancur, Suarez, Cavani
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Raphael, Fonte, Pepe, Adrien, Bernardo Silva, Carvalho, Joao Mario, Ronaldo, Quaresma, Guedes.