Pragmatism likely to rule | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 30, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 30, 2018

Pragmatism likely to rule

Pragmatic, difficult to beat, spearheaded by talismanic forwards and led by veteran, battle-hardened coaches -- few teams have as much in common with each other as Uruguay and Portugal.

Their round of 16 match may not have the makings of a goal feast but still promises to be a fascinating battle between two teams who repeatedly punch above their weight and who are a mirror image of each other.

The South Americans, who won all three of their first round games to top their group, have so far been the impressive of the two and are the only team yet to concede goal at the tournament in Russia.

Portugal, meanwhile, muddled through their group with draws against Spain and Iran and a fortuitous win over Morocco but that is unlikely to bother their grizzled coach Fernando Santos, who is always happy for his team to be considered the ugly ducklings.

Santos, 63, is at his second World Cup, having led Greece to the last 16 four years ago. The former electrical engineer has also coached Portugal's top three teams, and crowned his career by leading Portugal to the Euros two years ago.

His opposite number Oscar Tabarez, a one-time school teacher, is remarkably at his third World Cup in his current stint with Uruguay. Like Santos, the 71-year-old has also won a continental title, the Copa America in 2011.

Both teams boast forwards who divide public opinion despite their goalscoring prowess. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 85 goals in 153 games, although when he plays for his country there is sometimes a feeling that he is both the problem and the solution. At the other end is Uruguay's Luis Suarez with 53 goals from 101 games but numerous controversies behind him.

Both teams use their attacking weapons sparingly, preferring to build from the back, but they are the ones who can make the difference.

Leave your comments