831 players, 32 teams and four games a day – following the World Cup can be a bit overwhelming. For the next month, The Indian Express is cutting through the clutter, choosing the biggest storyline of the day every morning.
Portugal vs Uruguay (Group H)
12.30pm (Tuesday), Lusail Stadium
“Does he have four lungs?”
As with most things on social media, this comment – during this year’s Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool – was hugely exaggerated. However, it summed up the awe that Fede Valverde inspires every time he has the ball at his feet. Or even if he doesn’t.
Valverde stirs up these emotions week in and week out in Spain. The Real Madrid midfielder is often tireless in possession. When he doesn’t have the ball, he almost always chases opponents and tries to win them back. According to whoscored.comhe has won ‘ninth (12) possession in La Liga this season.’
Siguiente compromise 🇵🇹
Con todo Uruguay 💙👊🏼👊🏼#ElEquipoQuenosUne @Uruguay pic.twitter.com/htz1m15sYD
— Fede Valverde (@fedeevalverde) November 27, 2022
The analysis underlined how impressive that stat is, “considering that he plays for a side that averages 58.2% of possession, the third highest in La Liga.”
When Real needs to take control of a match, it’s Valverde they look up to.
Last week the world got to see what this monster midfielder does for his club. Two moments stand out in particular: the first was a shot so powerful that when it hit the upright, the thud was heard in the stands despite the noise; kind of like how Tendulkar’s straight urges would drown out all other noises.
Moments later, when a South Korean player tried to launch a run-up down the wings, Valverde sprinted a few yards, jumped forward and drove off the opponent. And then he got back up, punched the air and celebrated the perfectly timed tackle the way a forward would celebrate a goal.
Valverde is an embodiment of the unique Uruguayan spirit of gara chharua. The phrase describes the ability to overwhelm the odds with gobs of fighting spirit. Uruguayans use this phrase to describe their team, which often punches above its weight during the World Cups. The word gara means claw, which represents the ability to fight with grit and tenacity, and charua is a reference to the indigenous people living in Uruguay.
Fede Valverde’s match in numbers vs. South Korea:
11 moves to final third
8 passes in opponent. box (most)
Won 5 possessions
Won 4 matches
3 shots (most)
Created 2 chances
Made 2 tackles
Dribble past 0 x
Inches away from scoring the winner. 🤏@midnite | #FIFA world cup pic.twitter.com/aEWeIiL0ti
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 24, 2022
Valverde has done just that: conquering odds with incredible fighting spirit. Speak against The protector last year he had described how hard playing on clay made him tough.
“In Uruguay, not every field is grass, not even in Primera, so imagine baby football. They are unpaved places, gravel. You go around a corner and there is an animal next to you. It makes you grow up, fight, become stronger” , he said.
“It’s wonderful to come back from a game with your face covered in dirt, hair full of mud, boots full of stones. The best thing a child can experience is getting on the bus every weekend in your gear, sharing it with friends and family.”
Qatar’s lush green carpets may seem a world away from its dirt fields in Montevideo. But if Uruguay hopes to get through the group stages, they hope Valverde can show his inner spirit when they take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal tonight.
From Portugal’s point of view, it will be a revenge match. During the 2018 World Cup, it was Edinson Cavani’s support that ended Ronaldo & Co’s campaign. in the Round of 16. Now Portugal has a chance to beat Uruguay, which would put them on the verge of an early exit.
To say Uruguay drew in the goalless draw against South Korea would be putting it mildly – it was the first game since the turn of the century where not even one shot was on target. However, Valverde was an exception and made for a dull affair with his spirited performance. Against a Portuguese side that has its vulnerabilities, as exposed by Ghana, the responsibility will fall on him.
Uruguay coach Diego Alonso has Cavani, Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez at his disposal. But it will be Valverde who is expected to lift his side and bring them back into contention.
Other programs on the day:
Cameroon vs Serbia, 3.30pm, Al Janoub Stadium
South Korea vs Ghana, 6:30pm, Education City Stadium
Brazil vs Switzerland, 9.30pm, Stadium 974