Round of 16 , while France move to quarterfinal after beat Argentina 4-3.
The knockout stage action continues with what should be an absolute thriller. Two-time champions with a rich history, Uruguay, face current European champions Portugal, with a match against France or Argentina awaiting the victor.
This is the third tournament in succession that Uruguay have reached the knockout phase, while Portugal’s own progression represents a continued upward curve after the nation’s failure to progress in the 2014 World Cup (WC).
Though neither team’s presence in the knockouts is a surprise, they both struggled against far inferior opposition at times in the group stage. Uruguay do, however, come into this one as the only side in the tournament yet to concede a goal, having most recently trounced hosts Russia 3-0.
Portugal’s last game gives less cause for encouragement. As expected, the Euro 2016 winners controlled large portions of their final group game (with Iran) but a VAR-assisted penalty equaliser for Iran can only affect Portuguese self-belief for the worse.
After last winning the tournament in 1950, Uruguay’s run to fourth place exactly six decades later remains the South American nation’s best run of modern times.
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Players to watch: Though Portugal’s failure to beat Iran was irksome, Cristiano Ronaldo has an unlimited supply of self-belief, and – as always – this will radiate across the dressing room.
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will be as problematic as ever. Both men scored, either side of a Denis Cheryshev own-goal, in their last outing.
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With a difference of 14 goals in their respective qualifying stages, Panama will look for their debut goal
Stat attack: The sides have never met at a WC, with a 1-1 draw (in 1972, Independence Cup) being the most recent H2H result.
If Uruguay score first, it could be game over. Each of Uruguay’s last six matches have seen them score first and win with a clean sheet.
Portugal are unbeaten in six, last losing to South American opposition way back in September 2013.
Probably will not play
Carvalho W. (Injury)
Referee: Ramos C. A. (Mex)
Venue: Fisht Olympic Stadium (Sochi)