Cristiano Ronaldo is planning the next World Cup gala against Luis Suarez

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Cristiano Ronaldo is planning the next World Cup gala against Luis Suarez

Portugal has a more comfortable starting position and is planning revenge for 2018: The World Cup in Russia four years ago, the then reigning European champions were knocked out of the competition by Uruguay in the round of 16 (1-2).

There is no risk of repetition on Monday in Lusail, what is more, important anyway: With a win, the Portuguese are already in the knockout stages. The pressure is on Uruguay after the opening games, who failed to score a single goal in the 0-0 draw with South Korea.

If the South Americans, who have always reached at least the round of 16 since fourth place at the 2010 World Cup, want to continue their streak, the team around old "Pistolero" Luis Suarez will have to improve offensively.

"I'm more than happy with the performance of my players and I'm sure this group stage will be determined at the last match," Alonso said. "Obviously, the second game is key as is the third. Whether we qualify or not depends on us." He has numerous attacking weapons in Suarez and Edinson Cavani, as well as Liverpool's Darwin Nunez and Manchester United's Facundo Pellistri.

"The squad feels great," said Alonso, referring to the mix of old and young. "We have to keep working and improve a thing or two," said Real Madrid midfielder Federico "Fede" Valverde (24), who shares the future with Nunez (23).

For record players Diego Godin (36), Suarez (35), Cavani (35), Martin Caceres (35) and Fernando Muslera (36), the desert offers the last chance to write World Cup history. Cristiano Ronaldo started the tournament with a record - he was the first player to score in five World Cups - but he no longer shapes his team's game as he used to.

The question of Ronaldo's usefulness is considered an insult to majesty at home, but Portugal's team manager Fernando Santos was asked just before the World Cup. "I don't think any team in the world can play better without their best player."

Pepe is ahead with a good chance of starting eleven

In the end, others secured the narrow 3-2 win against Ghana: Bruno Fernandes set up two goals, and Rafael Leão and João Félix scored the goals.

"The King and His Heirs," headlined "A Bola." Portugal's new generation has so much talent that the question of Ronaldo's future in the national team is almost irresistible. Especially since the 37-year-old is without a club after the scandal with Manchester United and allegedly has an offer from Saudi Arabia worth millions.

The young generation still demonstratively bows to the old master on all occasions. "It's a dream. Ever since I was a kid we've all dreamed of playing with him and representing the national team," said Félix of his first World Cup alongside Ronaldo.