IA rather inconspicuous flag hung on the side of the block of the “Aficionados” from Uruguay, happily decorated with flags. Very simple, black letters on a sky-blue background. Just two words, an expression of a distant longing: “Asado y Vino” it said, barbecue and wine. The time in Qatar seems to be bad for the owners of the flag. Grilled food is insanely expensive and wine, well.
Barbecue and wine are an integral part of Uruguayan culture, as is soccer. Everything belongs together. If the national team wins, asado and vino taste even better, but the enjoyment is just too short for the Uruguayans.
It was 2-0 (0-0) against Portugal, and before the last group game on Friday, the Selección are under a lot of pressure. A win must be made against Ghana, and South Korea must not win more than that against Portugal (both games at 4:00 p.m. CET in the FAZ live ticker for the World Cup, on ARD/ZDF and on MagentaTV). The Portuguese, on the other hand, can take it a little easier, after two wins they are certainly qualified for the round of 16.
There was no doubt that Portugal’s victory was deserved. More questionable, however, was who had scored the first goal. It happened like this: Bruno Fernandes crossed from the left edge of the box into the box in the direction of Cristiano Ronaldo. He climbed up to the header and when the ball was in the goal, he ran exuberantly and let himself be celebrated.
But whether he touched him is as difficult to answer as who is the best footballer in Portuguese history. Eusebio or Ronaldo? Various repetitions did not provide any information either, Ronaldo’s intervention had not significantly changed the trajectory. At the stadium, Bruno Fernandes was reported as the goalscorer, causing audible resentment among those who support Ronaldo. And there are many in Qatar. Alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, he is one of the most popular personalities at this World Cup, especially among Southeast Asian fans.
After the Portuguese goal, Ronaldo initially cheered and let himself be celebrated, but Fernandes was announced as the scorer. His cross no longer touched Ronaldo in the middle. The offensive player, who was later replaced, failed to equalize Portugal’s World Cup goal record of nine goals by Eusebio, at least for the time being.
More than four years after Uruguay’s 2-1 draw in Russia’s round of 16, the focus in Qatar was once again on the veterans Pepe and Edinson Cavani. Both had excelled as goalscorers in 2018, now they made their starting XI debuts in Qatar. At 39 years, nine months and two days, Portugal’s Pepe is now the third-oldest outfield player in World Cup history.
Nobody in Uruguay has to ask themselves who will score the goals. On the other hand, it is the most urgent one that needs to be answered. In the second game, too, the team failed to score, and there is little going on offensively. And if so, then it’s usually a one-off action. Like Rodrigo Bentancur’s wonderful solo run in the middle of the first half. After passing several opponents, he was denied by Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa.
The action should have been successful for aesthetic reasons, like Facundo Pellistri’s long-range shot (75′), but it hit the post. Uruguay had already despaired of aluminum twice against South Korea. Pellistri’s shot was the start of a final offensive that Giorgian de Arrascaeta and Luis Suarez tried. Both unsuccessful. Uruguay lack a reliable goalscorer. The old heroes have had their day, it’s becoming more and more evident.
After Suarez got a start in the first game, it was Edinson Cavani who got the nod this time. He too had little success. Instead of Uruguay equalizing, Portugal got the second goal. Bruno Fernandes converted a very questionable hand penalty, José Gimenez had caught the ball while falling. This time it was clearly his goal. Portugal almost scored more goals in stoppage time, but the Uruguayans didn’t like the food and wine anyway.