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Ronaldo can't beat Uruguay on his own, warns Portugal coach

30 June 2018

"We have to play as a team".

The victor of this fixture will go on to meet the winner of France and Argentina's encounter in Saturday's other round-of-16 matchup, as the tougher-looking side of the bracket gets up and running. Nearly irrespective of who those wins came against, Uruguay will be on a high as one of only three teams to triumph in all their group games in Russia-Croatia and Belgium are the other two.

Portugal left back Raphael Guerreiro, winger Gelson Martins and midfielder William Carvalho all sat out training on Thursday with minor muscular complaints.

And Uruguay has identified Ronaldo, with four goals so far at Russian Federation 2018, as the biggest threat to their hopes of a place in the last eight.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos: "They are a typical South American side".

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"We'll be focused. But nine of those Portuguese players on that pitch are European Champions".

The two teams juxtapose one another nicely heading into what could be a frantic round-of-16 clash, too.

It was a similar story in Brazil four years ago, when Uruguay eliminated Italy in Natal in a game which saw Suarez bite Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder.

When it comes to team news, Uruguay is hoping defender Jose Gimenez will be ready for this one after missing the Russian Federation match with a muscle injury. "It's not just in this World Cup that they have not been conceding goals".

"The greatest virtue of the Uruguay team is that they are Uruguay".

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Uruguay, with Oscar Tabarez's decade-long pedagogy, headed into the World Cup with a settled squad and have been one of the only two teams to boast of a cent percent record in the group stages (the other country being Croatia).

Cristiano Ronaldo and co were not at all convincing in the group stage, and scraped into the knockout rounds with a 1-1 draw against Iran.

Ronaldo began the tournament in spectacular fashion, with his stunning free kick completing a hat trick and snatching a 3-3 draw against Spain at Fisht Stadium. 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.

Gracenote Sports head of analysis Simon Gleave said: "Uruguay came into the 2018 World Cup as outsiders but their victory against Egypt in the opening match immediately increased their chance to 5%".

"I am a lot better than in the first game", Suarez told reporters ahead of facing Portugal on Saturday.

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Ronaldo can't beat Uruguay on his own, warns Portugal coach