Monday’s 2022 World Cup action closes out at the Lusail Iconic Stadium with a mouth-watering Group H tie between Portugal and Uruguay at 7.00 pm.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s final crack at World Cup glory was off to a phenomenal start as the Selecao survived some hairy moments to claim a 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday.
It was a historic fixture for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Ronaldo became the first player to score at five different World Cups in the wake of his controversial Manchester United exit.
Then it also marked only the fourth instance where a World Cup match featured 5+ goals at full-time following a goalless first half, highlighting back-and-forth second-half action at Stadium 974.
Uruguay’s Group H curtain-raiser against South Korea wasn’t nearly as exciting, with the teams sharing the spoils in a tepid scoreless draw, featuring only a handful of scoring chances.
However, La Celeste’s four-man backline at the Education City Stadium, consisting of two players who turned 35+ years of age in 2022, marked their oldest defensive set-up at the World Cup finals.
In addition to captain Diego Godin and long-serving defensive cornerstone Martin Caceres, manager Diego Alonso relied on another veteran in his ageing starting XI.
Household striker Luis Suarez was at the heart of Uruguay’s frontline alongside Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez, but not even such a formidable attacking duo managed to break down the Koreans’ defence.
All competitions included, Portugal have been victorious in just one of their last nine matches against nations from the CONMEBOL federation (D3, L5), taking down Argentina in November 2014.
That doesn’t bode well for their bid to win their opening two group fixtures for the third time at the World Cup, previously accomplishing that feat in 1966 and 2006.
However, Fernando Santos’ men can draw confidence from Portugal’s eye-catching 13-match form in the World Cup group stage (W7, D5, L1).
On top of that, they’ve won their second match in five of their seven previous World Cup participations.
Much of Uruguay’s hopes of overcoming Portugal will rest on a water-tight defensive unit that has kept five consecutive clean sheets in the World Cup group stage.
Another shutout would set them apart from any other nation in the competition’s history, but unless their attack recalibrates on Monday, it may prove insufficient to strengthen their progression bid.
But La Celeste have perhaps surprisingly found their recent World Cup games against European opposition too simple to contest, having clocked up four wins in the last five such duels (L1).
Portugal vs Uruguay Head-to-Head
The day of reckoning, or better say revenge pits Portugal and Uruguay against each other at the World Cup finals for only the second time.
Goals from Edinson Cavani on either side of half-time crashed Santos’ team out of the 2018 World Cup round of 16, with Pepe scoring a consolation goal for the Selecao.
Now in pursuit of vengeance for that 2-1 defeat, Portugal will be out to level the overall H2H stakes and seal progression into the knockout stage with a game to spare.
Portugal vs Uruguay Potential Line-ups
Portugal (4-3-3): Diogo Costa; Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Danilo, Raphael Guerreiro; Bernardo Silva, Ruben Neves, William Carvalho; Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix.
Uruguay (4-3-3): Sergio Pochet; Martin Caceres, Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez, Mathias Olivera; Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur, Matias Vecino; Facundo Pellistri, Luis Suarez, Darwin Nunez.
Portugal vs Uruguay Prediction
While Portugal based their opening-round success against Ghana on a free-scoring frontline, Uruguay’s scoreless draw with South Korea offered an insight into their rock-solid defensive set-up.
So the two contrasting football philosophies will square off in Lusail as we back the Selecao to dispatch the South Americans and consolidate their place at the top of Group H.
Portugal 1-0 Uruguay
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