Portugal's Ronaldo faces tough Uruguay defence

Cristiano Ronaldo was lucky to stay on the pitch after an altercation with Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji. AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo was lucky to stay on the pitch after an altercation with Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji. AFP

One of the three Round of 16 encounters to pitch conventional footballing powerhouses against each other, the Battle of Sochi brings together the Group A winners Uruguay and Group B runners-up Portugal.

"A match-up between Spanish sides Barcelona and Real Madrid, also known El Clasico, is one of the biggest rivalries in sport", Suarez said.

Fernando Santos is lacking another defensive-midfield force akin to Carvalho in his squad, although Joao Moutinho could return alongside Adrien Silva in the engine room after starting on the bench against Russian Federation.

"Players like Messi and Ronaldo want to be the best and refuse to fail, but when they fail, they get very upset", the Portuguese coach added.

The question is whether Ronaldo has it in his locker to tear down Uruguayan walls regardless and add to his tally of four goals, with Portugal's supporting cast hoping their record scorer can dazzle once again in Russian Federation. "If Ronaldo plays alone we will lose", Santos told reporters at the Fisht Stadium, where the Portugal skipper scored a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Spain during the group phase.

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Another World Cup quarterfinal spot is on the line this Saturday when Uruguay takes on Portugal in the round of 16 in Russian Federation. Clearly, the momentum will be with the South American team and they will be a force to reckon with in the upcoming tie.

Tabarez, who is in his 14th year as Uruguay manager, albeit across two spells, is understandably planning that his side will have to work as a team to contain the five-time Ballon D'Or victor. "We have our weapons and we're going to try to win".

But Tabarez, in charge of his fourth World Cup campaign with Uruguay, insists it is pointless to deploy one man to stop Ronaldo.

Against Cavani, he has played four matches in the Champions League, scoring three goals, compared to one from the Uruguayan.

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. He has reached the knockout stages on each previous occasion: Euro 2012 quarter-finals & World Cup 2014 round of 16 with Greece; Euro 2016 winners and at least World Cup 2018 round of 16 with Portugal. They were poor against Iran and I think this is where their tournament ends. "He defends, commands, scores goals, wins titles, and does not miss a game", said Diego Maradona recently.

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