Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma during official training on the eve of the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup, in Kratovo, outskirts Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Uruguay-Portugal Match: Head Coaches, Players Speak About Their Expectations

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SOCHI (Sputnik) - Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez said on Friday that all 23 of his players, including injured defender Jose Maria Gimenez, were fit and ready to play against Portugal in their round of 16 World Cup match in Sochi on Saturday.

"You know that I cannot comment on the condition of certain players and who will be named in the starting lineup. But I can say that all of our 23 players are ready to play in this match," Tabarez told journalists.

Gimenez had been ruled out of his side’s final group match against hosts Russia because of a quadricep injury and has been training individually since.

Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, commenting on the upcoming match, said that the game would not be an individual duel between him and Portugal defender Pepe, but would rather be a game between the two teams.

"Pepe played for Real Madrid for many years, but for me, this game won't be limited to an individual confrontation with him. The match won't be easy, we''re playing against the European champions. There might be a possibility of taking advantage of individual talent in a one-on-one scenario, but it's still a game of eleven against eleven, that we are preparing for," Suarez told journalists.

READ MORE: Uruguay Forward Calls Teammate Suarez 'One of Best Strikers in World'

Uruguay's game against the reigning European champions will be held at Sochi's Fisht Stadium on Saturday. Pepe was a defender on Spanish side Real Madrid from 2007 to 2017, while Suarez joined bitter rivals Barcelona in 2014.

Luis Suarez went on to say that that his rivalry with Portugal and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo was different when they play for their respective countries than when they play for their clubs.

The Uruguay striker went on to say that the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) at the World Cup in Russia, has led to less complaints from the players over decisions made by referees.

"Of course the players are discussing it. Now penalties are sometimes called in cases where they weren't previously. It means that many [players] will complain less [to referees over their decisions]," Suarez told journalists at a press conference ahead of Uruguay’s game with Portugal.

READ MORE: World Cup Referees: Their Names, VAR Training and On-Field Drama

The tournament in Russia is the first World Cup where VAR is being used as a tool to help match officials avoid possible mistakes by allowing them to review video replays of game episodes.

READ MORE: Russia Suffers First Defeat at 2018 FIFA After 3-0 Drubbing by Uruguay

Portugal Must Play as Team, Not Leave Ronaldo Alone on Pitch — Head Coach

Speaking about the upcoming encounter, Portugal's head coach Fernando Santos stated that Portugal must not rely on forward Cristiano Ronaldo alone.

"If Ronaldo has to play on his own against Uruguay, then Portugal will lose. I hope that my team will play with the utmost concentration. We have a serious match ahead of us, and we will have to give our best throughout the game. If we can do all that, then Ronaldo has the ability to play the decisive role," Santos told journalists.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Russia on June 14 and will continue until July 15, with the games being played in 11 cities across the country.

2018 FIFA World Cup, Uruguay, Portugal
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