FIFA World Cup 2018: Players say pressure of qualification restrained Uruguay's natural brand of football

Nizhny Novgorod: Comfortably through to the next stage of the World Cup but hardly lighting the tournament up with their play, Uruguay believe they will become more free-flowing from now.

Uruguay won their first two matches by slender margins, winning 1-0 against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two teams that are vastly outranked by the South Americans in terms of talent. AFP

Uruguay won their first two matches by slender margins, winning 1-0 against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two teams that are vastly outranked by the South Americans in terms of talent. AFP

Having beaten both Egypt and Saudi Arabia 1-0, the South Americans face high-scoring hosts Russia on Monday to dispute first place in Group A after both teams qualified with two wins. “Now against Russia, we don’t have the same anxiety because we know we’re through,” midfielder Lucas Torreira told reporters after training at Uruguay’s base outside Nizhny Novgorod.

“We are calmer, so we can go out and play more fluidly. As the matches go by, you feel more comfortable,” he said, adding that discipline was still needed, however, to block Russia who have scored eight goals in their opening games.

Diego Laxalt, who made his World Cup debut as a substitute against Saudi Arabia, said the squad had huge respect for Russia after seeing their roaring start to a tournament where few had given them a hope of progressing. “They’re showing they have a really good level,” he said.

Uruguay are destined for a gruelling second round game regardless of where they finish in Group A. Either 2010 winners Spain or European champions Portugal are their likely opponents. “Both teams have such a high level. Either of them would be difficult,” said Laxalt.

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Updated Date: Jun 22, 2018 19:20 PM

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