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Portugal surely would have preferred that, for while Uruguay continue to produce tough centre-backs, they are by no means completely reliant on them. 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.

La Celeste's strength is based on the twin pillars of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front and Atletico Madrid center-back pairing Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, who must face up to a familiar foe.

There has been little love lost when they have met: Ronaldo once punched Godin during a Spanish Super Cup tie, but the defender got his own back in a meeting previous year by elbowing the Portuguese in the head. Then off I'll go to Moscow to cover one semi-final match and the ultimate final, both from the Luzhniki stadium.

Uruguay are yet to concede a single goal at the 2018 World Cup, facing just six shots on target in three games - the last South American team not to concede in their first four matches of a World Cup tournament was Brazil in 1986. Against any other forward, Godin will be towering over but Ronaldo plays with the air of a man who fears nobody and unless Uruguay can neutralise him, nothing else will matter much.

The FIFA World Cup 2018 Uruguay vs Portugal Round of 16 match will be played at the Fisht Stadium, Sochi. We are going to have to work collectively, but we don't lose sleep over this. "Even if he scores three goals in match, you still need to have a team to support him".

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

"I don't think it will be a duel between Suarez and Ronaldo", Alves said on Thursday.

European champions Portugal, however, finished second in their section to set up a clash with Uruguay in the last 16.

"We have known each other for a long time and have played together for over 10 years in the national team", Suarez said of Cavani.

Penalty shoot-outs excluded, Portugal have lost only one of their last 17 games at major tournaments (won eight, draw eight), a 4-0 defeat against Germany at the 2014 World Cup. "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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