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Portugal ready for ‘tough battle’ with Iran

25 June 2018

"But on Monday Iran are going to play against Portugal, not against Cristiano". They put in a great performance against Portugal and only got a point and then they struggled in the last game so there's still a little bit of a nervousness about them.

Portugal and Spain followed up their 3-3 draw with 1-0 victories.

After a last-gasp win against Morocco in their opener, they gave it absolutely everything against Spain and eventually only conceded to an unfortunate Diego Costa goal.

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A win would take Serbia through and a draw could be enough if Switzerland lose by two.

Renard was outspoken in his criticism of referee Mark Geiger afterwards, claiming Cristiano Ronaldo's goal should have been ruled out for a foul by Pepe, and he did not hold back when he spoke prior to their final Group B game against Spain. "It is the team who are going to be playing Iran", he told a news conference.

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But their relationship soured following a second-round exit to Spain at the 2010 World Cup, after which Ronaldo suggested Queiroz was to blame for the defeat.

Queiroz said he was hesitant to criticize the system because when coaches complain about refereeing decisions, "it sounds like excuses", and because such complaints tend to be met with punitive measures that he compared to famously huge waves crashing on beachgoers in Portugal.

Queiroz called Monday's game "the most interesting and important match in my seven years with Iran" and said the drama of facing Ronaldo was worthy of a Martin Scorsese movie.

Cristiano Ronaldo has single-handedly led Portugal's charge in Russian Federation. "I want, and we want, to share it with him", he said. "The team's essence remains the same".

While they aren't through yet, Spain will be confident of making progress, as only a point is needed for them in the clash with Morocco.

A draw in that game would see both go through. A draw would see Russian Federation top on goal difference.

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In the same group Tunisia will take on Panama in their quest to at least win for pride, before bowing out of the tournament. There was a long delay before the decision, which arguably cost Iran a crucial point in Group B play.

Santos praised Iran as "the best team in Asia" and predicted a tricky encounter in Saransk.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has said he sees the match as an opportunity to fine-tune his team for the next round.

Iran are set to be without Ehsan Hajsafi, who picked up a thigh injury against Spain last time out. If it's a draw then it will be decided by fair play as the teams are now level on goal difference and goals scored.

The pressure on Uruguay, as it was for Russian Federation, to win the first two games was extremely intense.

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Portugal ready for ‘tough battle’ with Iran