Portugal may have not won a single game in the 90 minutes so far in the EURO, but they are at the semi-finals thanks to their coach’s tactical skill in the knock-out matches. On the other hand, Wales have been very impressive so far, they are the biggest surprise in this competition and they will be very hard to overcome.
Same old same old from Portugal in the quarter-final against Poland. Fernando Santos’ team were stunned in the 2nd minute by a goal from Lewandowski, but they pushed hard for an equalizer, which they managed to score at the end of the first half, with a beautiful goal by Renato Sanches. In the second half neither team took any chances, as well as at the extra-time with both teams going to the penalty shoot-out. Portugal were more calm and managed to book their ticket to the semi-finals with a final score of 5-3 at the shoot-out. Portugal are still going strong in the EURO, however they haven’t won in the regular time of any of their games. This is the 5th time in their history to reach the semi-finals and the 4th in the last 5 EUROs. This year, they want to overcome this obstacle and participate in the final, where they have lost in their single appearance there, against Greece in 2004. Cristiano Ronaldo is the first player in the history of the competition to have participated in 3 semi-finals, and he is also chasing Michel Platini’s record for the top scorer in the history of the EURO. The coach will have numerous headaches regarding his starting eleven, as William Carvalho is suspended, Rafael Guereiro and Andre Gomez seemed to have overcome their injuries, while Pepe is still uncertain to play due to an injury of his own.
On the other hand, Wales fought against Belgium using their usual tactics. Their main goal was to keep a clean sheet, but they failed to do so, as Naingolan scored a blazing goal from the edge of the area at the 13th minute. Coach Chris Coleman signaled his team to play more offensively, and it worked as they managed to pull even at the 30th minute with a goal by Williams. Wales managed to complete the overturn in this game, as Robson-Kanu’s magnificent individual effort in Belgium’s area left 3 defenders and the keeper stunned as he celebrated his team’s lead, with Vokes scoring once more at the 83rd minute to seal the deal for his team. The dream is still on for Wales, who are writing history with their every game. They are the biggest surprise in this year’s competition and proved that they are the strongest of underdogs. In their first presence ever in the EURO they are doing very good, being the first team since Sweden in 1992, to reach the semi-finals in their first participation. What’s even more amazing for Wales is that they have scored in all their matches so far, showing that they do not completely rely on Bale, who has scored just 3 of his team’s 10 total goals. Even though it’s not depicted in the stats(just 1 game out of 5 was Under 2.5 Goals so far), Wales rely very much on their tactical defense. Coach Coleman puts defense above all others, with his team keeping just 2 clean sheets in 5 games so far. Despite their amazing run in this tournament, they severely lack bench depth, and this could prove to be fatal in the semi-final against Portugal. Center back Ben Davis is suspended, and also Aaron Ramsey. Bale aside, Ramsey is this team’s most valuable player in the midfield, and it is nearly impossible for his coach to find a decent substitute for him.
Portugal look like they got the hang of it, reaching the semi- finals for the 4th time in the last 5 competitions. On the other hand, Wales lack the experience, but in their first presence ever in the EURO they have exceeded expectations as they are in a place to fight for a place in the final. This should be a big battle between Real Madrid’s two biggest stars, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, but I expect both teams to approach this match with very much caution and they should look to lock down their defenses first. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game ended in a Draw, but I think we will see Under 2.5 Goals on this match. I would suggest you wait before betting on this match, as I will provide an update in the comment section just before the match starts, regarding the injuries and final line-ups.
UEFA EURO Prediction: Under 2 Goals.