Portugal vs Uruguay Prediction
28th November 2022
22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT
Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Played:1 Uruguay Wins:1
Portugal vs Uruguay Prediction Match Overview
Portugal vs Uruguay sees the two group heavyweights face off to possibly determine who will win Group H. While the Portuguese managed to pick up all three points against Ghana, they will perhaps be less impressed by their own performance which saw them clinging on to victory in injury time. Portugal will be acutely aware that they must improve to beat the Uruguayans here.
Uruguay for their part played out a 0-0 draw against South Korea which saw neither side register a shot on target. Uruguay didn’t look fluid in attack and, worryingly for them, their talismanic striker Luis Suarez appeared to be well off the pace. Uruguay will have to find other ways of opening up the Portuguese defence rather than relying on a moment of magic.
A win here for Portugal books their passage to the last 16, whereas a win for Uruguay blows the group wide open and could put them in the driver’s seat going into their final group game against Ghana.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play:
Will not play: Pereira, Mendes (Portugal); Araujo (Uruguay)
Portugal vs Uruguay Prediction Analysis
Possible Changes from the First Matches
Danilo Pereira is an enforced change for Portugal after the defender fractured three ribs during a training session – veteran defender Pepe may replace the PSG man at the heart of the defence. Nuno Mendes remains a doubt so Guerreiro is expected to continue in the left wing-back role. Otavio came off injured during the second half for William Carvalho, and it’s possible that the Real Betis midfielder would have started anyway due to the perceived strength of the opposition.
Diego Alonso has a big decision to make – does he persist with Luis Suarez following his poor display against South Korea? He may well retain his place through his talent and reputation, but if Alonso is brave he could opt to play Nunez as a lone striker to beef up the midfield to compete more effectively with the Portuguese in that area. We think Suarez will be given another chance though.
The Midfield Contest
As previously mentioned, this is where we feel the game will be won and lost. Both teams prefer to control possession and bide their time for openings, and the Uruguayans will be especially keen to shut down Portugal’s primary playmakers Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes. They hope that if Cristiano Ronaldo is starved of service then he becomes something of a bystander. Portugal will have similar designs and will look to prevent Bentancur and Valverde in particular from establishing a foothold in the game, so we expect to see William Carvalho come in here.
Uruguay may prefer to play Lucas Torreira here to give them an extra defensive midfield presence. Uruguay’s chances of obtaining a favourable result are improved immeasurably if they can keep Silva and Fernandes quiet and this will necessitate swarming either man when they have the ball so they can’t pick a pass at their leisure. Uruguay will be acutely aware that a defeat here would mean that potentially even a win in their final game would not be enough so we expect them to look to keep things tight early on.
Keeping the Danger Men Quiet
Both sides possess multiple danger men, most obviously for Uruguay would be Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez and Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde who had been in fine goalscoring form before the tournament. If Alonso decides to persist with Suarez then we all know about his goalscoring pedigree. The Portuguese defenders will need to track Nunez’s runs to ensure that he doesn’t get a run at the ball either aerially or on the ground and this is where they will be relying upon the veteran experience of Pepe and the positioning and composure of Manchester City’s Ruben Dias. They will need to improve their concentration levels at the back as they were truthfully fortunate to emerge with a win thanks to defensive and goalkeeping lapses from Joao Cancelo and Diogo Costa respectively.
In addition to their midfield playmaking schemers, Portugal possess a dual threat in the final third in the form of Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix and Cristiano Ronaldo. Felix grew into the game against the Ghanaians and was a constant menace to their back line in the second half, and Uruguay will be wary of his ability to drop off the play to find space from which to hurt the Uruguayans. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t have the best of games in front of goal despite a well-taken penalty, but Portugal may be encouraged by some of the positions he took up.
Portugal can call on an impressive bench if things aren’t going their way, most notably in attack with AC Milan’s Rafael Leao, Benfica’s 21-year-old sensation Goncalo Ramos and Benfica’s Joao Mario all seeing some game time against the Ghanaians. Unused substitutes last time out included Andre Silva, Diogo Dalot and Vitinha.
Edinson Cavani was enjoying a good run of form for Valencia, scoring four goals in three games before picking up an injury against Barcelona. Nevertheless, the cultured striker saw 27 minutes of action against South Korea and will be pushing for further involvement. Uruguay have players suited to a variety of formations, and before the tournament were lining up in a 4-2-2-2 formation which seems to have been abandoned in favour of playing Pellistri as a wide man with Nunez and Suarez accommodated. We touched on the idea of Suarez being benched for this clash but nothing is guaranteed.
Portugal Key Players
Bruno Fernandes’ willingness to play the risky pass was vitally important for Portugal securing the win against Ghana. While some may feel that the Manchester United man concedes possession too often, these tournament games can be cagey affairs and the Portuguese may be relying on an incisive pass to break down a stubborn Uruguayan defence. Tournament football requires players to be brave when in possession and in that respect Fernandes is certainly no shrinking violet.
Portugal were relatively poor in defence last time out and they’ll certainly be aware they require improvement in this area. Manchester City man Ruben Dias will have Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez to contend with, and it’s vital for Portugal’s chances that Dias has one of his better games. Fortunately for Portugal, Dias possesses the necessary speed, strength and positional awareness to ensure that Nunez isn’t afforded a run at the ball in key areas.
Uruguay Key Players
Simply put, Uruguay need to retain the ball as much as they possibly can in the middle of the park to keep the ball away from Portugal’s midfield playmakers and Bentancur is highly adept at holding onto the ball when required and recycling possession for the team’s benefit. Capable of playing incisive passes too when called for, Uruguay will need the Spurs man to be at his very best here.
We expect that Uruguay will line up somewhat more defensively for this one, so Nunez could effectively be playing as a lone striker and will need to use his considerable physical presence and willingness to make penetrating runs off the ball to make this work. Nunez is also considered to be an elite pressing forward due to a combination of said athleticism and a high work rate, which will be vitally important for Uruguay as they want to avoid the Portuguese getting too comfortable when building out from the back.
Portugal vs Uruguay Prediction
We anticipate that both sides will be wary of the threat that the other poses and they will line up accordingly. Portugal are perhaps the more likely of the two sides to win the key midfield battles and could theoretically generate better chances, but we feel that defences will reign supreme here because Uruguay won’t be anywhere near as open as the Ghanaians were.