Cristiano Ronaldo is the equal of two strikers

Jo Caldwell
June 30, 2018

"I hope my team can be as strong as Uruguay, and that Cristiano can then make the difference". Tabarez had devised his successful tactical system at a time when Uruguay did not boast of quality central midfielders, but the emergence of the likes of Vecino and Bentancur has comforted the veteran manager.

One player who could significantly help Uruguay in trying to contain Ronaldo is defender Jose Maria Gimenez, who missed the group stage finale with a thigh injury.

Essentially a one-man team spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal have dazzled and baffled this summer, their fortunes revolving around the Real Madrid talisman.

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And he also claimed that the 33-year-old was the Portuguese talisman.

"We will mark him with the same respect we mark everyone, despite him being a superstar", said Sebastian Coates of Ronaldo.

It will be a fascinating battle at the Fisht Stadium with Ronaldo, at 33, enjoying his best World Cup but Uruguay the only side to come through the group stage in Russian Federation without conceding a goal. In midfield, they have one who plays for Juventus and one for Inter. "Not just Godin. We will have to work collectively in order to try and limit the effect that he can have".

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Uruguay are yet to concede at the World Cup, but Portugal have kept only one clean sheet.

If he plays, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (37) will equal Bastian Schweinsteiger (38) as the player with the most appearances at World Cups and European Championships.

"I don't think it will be a duel between Suarez and Ronaldo", Alves said on Thursday. They were poor against Iran and I think this is where their tournament ends.

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That, and Portugal's recent track record of being involved in tense knockout matches that have gone to the wire, has raised the prospect of a nail-biting contest as the World Cup heads into its latter stages. "We're working for our national teams and both of us are going to try our hardest to come out on top". Excelling in their man-management skills, they surely have the strategic know-how and they have already led their sides to continental glory; and simply an iota of sparked brilliance could decide the game today. "That doesn't cross our minds, but if it's boring and we win.", said Uruguay's veteran coach Oscar Washington Tabarez on Friday, looking ever more frail at the age of 71.

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