NIZHNY NOVGOROD (Reuters) - Uruguay are wary of facing Portugal’s free scoring Cristiano Ronaldo in Saturday’s World Cup last 16 clash but are preparing for a showdown with the European champions not one player and believe the outcome will come down to details.
Ronaldo pulled his team through the group stage by slamming in four goals and as their talisman the 33-year-old forward is the player all of the squad look to for a moment of magic.
“They’re a team that have been playing together for a while. They have very important players, like Cristiano...,” Uruguay defender Sebastian Coates, who plays for Portuguese club Sporting, told reporters on Wednesday.
“While of course he’s a worldwide star, we’re going to treat him with the same respect. You do not prepare for a game against one player but against a team,” added Coates.
At least Uruguay’s tough back line will likely put up a fight against the talented Real Madrid player, as they have yet to concede a goal at the tournament in Russia.
“We all defend. The entire team sacrifices itself,” said Coates.
Saturday’s game in Sochi will be unpredictable and will come down to details, he and team mate Matias Vecino told reporters.
“I think it will be a balanced game. It will be defined by details. One-off plays will decide the game,” added midfielder Vecino.
Earlier on Wednesday, team doctor Alberto Pan said he was optimistic that defensive leader Jose Gimenez, who has a thigh injury, had improved enough to play against Portugal.
“He has worked at a less demanding level than the rest of the team. Today he worked at an intermediary level and tomorrow he will join the team normally,” he said.
“Depending on how he responds, which we hope will be positive, he will be at the disposition of the coach.”
Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Ken Ferris