FIFA World Cup: Valverde to add spark as most eyes on Ronaldo in Uruguay vs Portugal

Monday is likely to see a battle of youth against experience as Portugal and Uruguay go head-to-head in a difficult Group H, with Portugal looking for revenge for the 2-0 defeat to Uruguay that knocked them out of the last-16 in Russia four years ago.

Monday is likely to see a battle of youth against experience as Portugal and Uruguay go head-to-head in a difficult Group H, with Portugal looking for revenge for the 2-0 defeat to Uruguay that knocked them out of the last-16 in Russia four years ago.

As usual, most eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo after his controversial penalty against Ghana saw him become the first player to score in five consecutive World Cups.

Ronaldo was voted the ‘Man of the Match’ in that 3-2 win, but a closer look at his performance shows just how much his style of play has changed in recent years, with the 37-year-old now becoming a much more static presence in attack, when a few years ago, his powerful runs from deep, cutting in from the flanks were his main strengths.

Ronaldo will again start for Portugal, and again be partnered by Joao Felix — a player who is overloaded with talent but still only shows it in fits and starts, such as Portugal’s second goal against Ghana.

With players such as Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin, some members of the Uruguay side are also getting a bit ‘long in the tooth’ and that also showed in their 0-0 draw against a hard-running South Korea.

However, one member of the Uruguay squad more than made up for the lack of kilometres in his teammates’ legs, reports Xinhua.

Fede Valverde was once again a midfield powerhouse, with the 24-year-old continuing the rampaging form he has shown for Real Madrid all season.

Valverde has the ability to track back in defense and then to surge forward and it will be interesting to see how Portugal’s Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandez deal with his energy in what is likely to be a physical match.

Valverde almost won Thursday’s game in the final seconds with a shot that bounced back off the post and he is the man Portugal have to look out for on Monday night.

(IANS)