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Uruguay wary of Portugal, hope to repeat 2018 feat

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AL RAYYAN: Uruguay want an improved performance against Portugal in their second game of the World Cup and would love to repeat their win over the Europeans at the 2018 tournament, coach Diego Alonso said on Sunday.


"About what happened four years ago, it's a different match, we have different players, it will be a completely different match," Alonso said.


Uruguay knocked Portugal out of the World Cup in Russia with a 2-1 win, and face the same opponents in Qatar on Monday in their second Group H game.


"Portugal have a very good squad, they have excellent players, they have a wonderful coach with wide experience," added Alonso.


"That makes them a dangerous team. On the other hand, we also have our own weapons. We will try to win, we will bring our A game."


The South Americans drew their first game 0-0 against South Korea in a subdued performance, while Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal beat Ghana 3-2.


"We analysed the game, we know it wasn't good enough, we weren't pressing enough ... We need to change our play. We were a bit slow," said Uruguay midfielder Rodrigo Betancur.


"We know it is a crucial game tomorrow. We know that we need to win and that is what we will try to do. We will break our backs as we always do."


Betancur said football had moved on since the 2018 match.


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"It will be a different game. It's been four years since that game and football has evolved. Now we play with more intensity and players are in a better physical condition," he said.


"They (Portugal) play very well with the ball, they play the spaces, they beat the back line of the defence, but we've been working on that and we will try to use our own weapons so that we cannot be defeated."


INJURY CONCERNS FOR PORTUGAL


Portugal coach Fernando Santos said he hoped central defender Danilo Pereira would not be sidelined with injury for long and there were also fitness concerns about midfielder Otavio ahead of Monday's World Cup match against Uruguay.


Pereira, who plays his club football at Paris St Germain, suffered three broken ribs in training on Saturday, ruling him out of the rematch of the 2018 World Cup round of 16 clash, which Uruguay won 2-1.


"As far as I know he is improving and we expect to have him back on the pitch very soon," Santos - who has been in charge of the national team since 2014 and led them to victory at the Euros 2016 - told reporters on Sunday.


"But if we don't, we have three other centre halves who can replace him. We don't need to make a drama of it."


Portuguese media reported that Pereira would miss the group stage and his involvement would be in doubt if Portugal - led by captain Cristiano Ronaldo - make it to the knockout rounds.


Asked about 39 year-old defender Pepe, who was on the bench when Portugal beat Ghana 3-2 in their opening match in the World Cup in Qatar last Thursday, Santos said he was "a monster" and would be in the team on Monday.


Portugal are top of Group H after beating Ghana 3-2 in their opening game.


Decisions about the availability of Otavio, who started against Ghana, and reserve left back Nuno Mendes, who is also an injury concern, would be taken after a training session later on Sunday, Santos said.


Portugal top Group H and face Uruguay in their second match at the Lusail Stadium, just north of Doha, on Monday.


Santos said the South Americans remained a very strong team with the ability to counter-attack at pace, even if strikers Edson Cavani - who scored both Uruguay's goals against the Portuguese in 2018 - and Luis Suarez were older.


"We will have to be very careful because they can press their opponents really intensely, force them into errors and then hit them hard," Santos said. -- Reuters


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