Portugal have been handed a serious headache ahead of their clash with Uruguay as it has emerged that PSG midfielder Danilo Pereira is set to be ruled out of contention for the remainder of the group stages.
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix and Rafael Leao ensured that, despite a late scare, Fernando Santos’ side kicked off their World Cup with three points after overcoming a tricky Ghana side, but they now face on paper the most difficult side in the form of Uruguay.
And, able to book their spot in the last 16 with a win, they have been left light in defence with Danilo’s latest injury. The 30-year-old filled in, albeit uncomfortably, in the heart of the Portugal defence with fellow veteran Pepe also sidelined, but in doing so suffered a back injury which will see him miss the remaining group games.
It raises serious questions as to who will partner Ruben Dias in the heart of the Portugal defence, with youngster António Silva the only other recognised central defender in the squad, though William Carvalho can also deputise there if absolutely necessary.
Silva only made his international debut for Portugal in a warm-up friendly ahead of the tournament, with the 19-year-old playing 90 minutes as they thrashed Nigeria 10 days ago. He also only has 18 senior appearances to his name at club level, having only come into the Benfica senior side at the beginning of the season.
It means that he will have his hands full with the experienced duo of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, while his former teammate Darwin Nunez also poses a major threat to what will be an increasingly inexperienced Portuguese backline.