Mon | Apr 22, 2019

Portugal's Ronaldo faces tough Uruguay defence

Published:Saturday | June 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) runs during a training session in Kratovo, outskirts Moscow, Russia on Thursday.

SOCHI, Russia (AP):

Lionel Messi's longtime rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, has not been shy about embracing what could be his final World Cup, scoring four goals and carrying his team to victories in its first two matches. And Messi's Barcelona teammate, Uruguay's Luis Suarez - who bit an opponent at the previous World Cup - has been in top form in Russia while keeping his teeth to himself.

Uruguay's defence might be a bigger problem for Ronaldo and Portugal when the teams meet in Sochi.

La Celeste have yet to allow a goal, their back line anchored by captain Diego Godin and his Atletico Madrid teammate Jose Maria Gimenez, who missed the squad's final group game against Russia with a thigh injury. Gimenez has returned to training and could be available to play against Portugal and his familiar Real Madrid adversary.

"We know that in 2018 they haven't lost any of their six games and didn't concede any goals," Portugal right back Cedric Soares said. "That is something to pay attention. It's a team that has quality."

The last time Uruguay allowed a goal was in a 4-2 victory over Bolivia in World Cup qualifying last October.

Unlike Messi, Ronaldo has led Portugal to an international title, the 2016 European Championship, and at 33, the fanatically well-conditioned player still appears to have the physical gifts of his youth.

Whether he can break through against Uruguay will determine Ronaldo's World Cup legacy. But history weighs less heavily on him than on Messi, the benefit of playing for a smaller nation that's never reached a World Cup final.