Wales can continue their history-making run of form when they take on Portugal in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais (8pm Wednesday live on ITV1). Read our match preview for Wales’ most important game ever, with betting tips.
Chris Coleman’s charges progressed to the last four of the European Championships with a terrific 3-1 victory over widely-fancied Belgium on Friday night. Wales started that match poorly, going behind thanks to Radja Nainggolan’s superb strike from outside the box and conceding a number of excellent opportunities early on, but they were by far the better team after getting a foothold in the game after 20 minutes.
They were proactive in possession, with both wing-backs pushed forward and Aaron Ramsey taking up some dangerous positions between the lines of Belgium’s midfield and defence, while star man Gareth Bale (pictured) again threatened with his speed and direct running on the break. Wales dropped deeper in the second period – Ashley Williams had got them back on level terms by then – but still caused Belgium plenty of problems in attacking areas. Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes both scored excellent goals to book Wales’ place in the next round and send a disappointing Belgium outfit home.
Portugal’s quarter-final tie was an altogether tighter affair, with Poland defeated on penalties after 120 minutes of football could not separate the sides. Although Fernando Santos’ men only finished in third place in Group F, their performances in the initial round of matches were deserving of better results. In the knockout stage they have been much less convincing, narrowly defeating Croatia late on in extra time in the round of 16 before their shootout triumph over Poland.
Like Wales, Portugal started poorly and fell behind early on in the latter encounter, but they were marginally the better team over the two hours and deserved to advance. Renato Sanches has added a new dimension to their play, the Bayern Munich midfielder providing drive and bustle in the midfield, but the form of Cristiano Ronaldo must be a concern. The Real Madrid man was again kept quiet against Poland, just as he was against Croatia in Portugal’s previous outing.
Wales still have their talisman Bale, but will be without both Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who has arguably been their standout performer at the Euros in France, and Ben Davies through suspension. Leicester City’s Andy King and West Ham United’s James Collins are likely to come into the side in their place. Portugal, meanwhile, will have to make do without midfielder William Carvalho, who is also banned, with Danilo likely to be assume the role in front of the back four. Ricardo Quaresma is also pushing for a start after making decisive interventions from the bench against both Croatia (when he scored the winning goal) and Poland (when he converted the final penalty to send Portugal through).
Our Preview’s Portugal v Wales Betting Tips Verdict
This is a very difficult match for our preview to call, although the bookmakers understandably rate Portugal as favourites to triumph and secure a place in the final, where either world champions Germany or host nation France will await.
Given the betting odds available, however, it is probably worth backing the Welsh to cause another upset against Santos’ charges. There are some reasonably long prices being quoted by a number of bookies on that outcome, and Wales certainly have the organisation to frustrate Portugal at the back and the talent to open them up at the other end of the pitch.
Wales will probably sit deep and allow their opponents to dominate possession on Wednesday night, with their best moments likely to come when the ball is turned over. A 2-1 win for Coleman’s side could be the best bet, with Robson-Kanu a good choice for first goalscorer.
- Correct Score Betting Tip: Wales to beat Portugal 2-1 @ best betting odds of 15/1 with BetVictor.
- First Goalscorer Betting Tip: Hal Robson-Kanu to score the first goal of the game @ a best price of 10/1 with Bet365, Betfred or William Hill. If you prefer to play a bit safer he is 5/1 to score at any time within the 90 minutes @ 5/1 with Betfair.