Portugal VS Wales Prediction
Portugal and Wales will take part in the first UEFA Euro 2016 semi-final when in Wednesday night the newly built “Parc Olympique Lyonnais” welcomes the biggest ever game in Welsh football history. That’s right, “Dragons” from Wales have reached the UEFA Euro 2016 semi-finals and this happened on their first ever appearance, while Portugal are part of the final four for fifth time in their seventh European Championship participation. Quite an achievement by “The Navigators” who are still without a win in France (as it comes to regular 90 mins), but they have neither lost in any of their games so far.
The Grand Stade near Lyon was opened early in 2016 and it already staged one of Portugal’s Euro 2016 fixtures – 3:3 draw vs Hungary, which was the highest scoring match at the Euro until the quarter-final between France and Iceland.
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Wales triggers Portugal without two important Euro 2016 figures
Chris Coleman can be optimistic after the wonderful efforts of his lads against Belgium as the 3:1 win near French-Belgian border was undoubtedly Wales’ best performance at Euro 2016. However, it cost them two crucial names who’ll miss the semi-finals since Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey were both booked during the victory over Belgium. The North London rivals are with significant importance in Chris Coleman’s setup and their absence opens few questions to the 46-year-old Welsh manager.
Ben Davies took part in all Welsh games so far and his presence has been particularly impressive, providing solid defensive display in all games as the left defender in Welsh centre-back trio. Now the most adequate replacement of the 23-year-old Spurs’ left-back seems to be another London rival – James Collins, as the 32-year-old defender of West Ham United is one from the most experienced figures with 48 international caps, but lack of first-team football can be decisive here. Collins’ first Euro 2016 appearance was in the closing seconds against Belgium coming as Aaron Ramsey’s replacement and he can’t boast with solid presence in the pre-tournament friendlies, neither in the closing part of the English Premier League season. However, there aren’t much options for Chris Coleman and if he wants to stick with the 3-5-2 formation, then James Collins’ experience looks the most reliable choice, unless he plans some tactical rotations. To be honest last time when James Collins played full 90 minutes was back in end of February and thereafter he hasn’t been first-team choice at “Upton Park”. Nevertheless, his spirit and proven battleworthy skills may tip the scales on his side and we highly doubt that Chris Coleman will make some major changes, not when everything works well and Wales made it through all past rounds of UEFA Euro 2016.
Admittedly Aaron Ramsey‘s absence comes as the worst possible news for Chris Coleman and Wales, but Arsenal’s midfielder was booked in second successive game at the Euros, so he’ll miss the 1/2 finals. Awful news for “The Dragons” since Ramsey was brilliant and with key contribution for the 3:1 win over Belgium, and not only. His Euro 2016 campaign has been marked by a goal in the 3:0 win over Russia, but mostly with all four assists he made so far, making him top assistant in France, alongside Belgian captain Eden Hazard – both have 4 assists so far and their overall contribution deserves credit, but Hazard was already knocked out by Ramsey and his teammates, so now Arsenal’s midfielder will hope that Chris Coleman will find out best possible way to replace him in the central midfield trio, which can allow him to record one last Euro 2016 appearance – in the final game. Wales must qualify for it in a first place and Ramsey’s suspension opens space for someone between David Edwards or Andy King. Dave Edwards was the one who gained more Euro 2016 football so far and he may prevail over Leicester City’s midfielder for the third place next to Joe Ledley and Joe Allen. Jonathan Williams is another option for Wales’ midfield as Dave Edwards and Williams were both featured in the Euro 2016 opener of “The Dragons”, when they overcame Slovakia in Bordeaux.
Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes have left their names on the scoresheet in Lille where they both scored in the second half and this keeps the contention about top striker in Welsh formation on its highest level. Gareth Bale has been the most consistent and rock-solid player in Chris Coleman’s selection and he’ll challenge his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo on the best possible stage. Thus Bale will have to contribute even more for overall display of his nation and he’ll once again be awarded with the free role between midfield and attack, playing next to the midfielders and as second attacker when it’s necessary. His multi-functionality has been used in brilliant way by Chris Coleman and Gareth Bale deservedly holds the highest average rating from all UEFA Euro 2016 players in the reputable WhoScored.com’s rating system.
Of course, there’s an opportunity Bale to be moved in midfield while Vokes and Robson-Kanu can form attacking duo, but we’ll once again express our opinion that Chris Coleman is unlikely to plan such an important changes, especially in such occasion. Most reasonable display looks the 3-5-1-1 formation and someone from Robson-Kanu/Vokes on top, supported by Gareth Bale from second position.
Portugal is still without a win but with golden chance at Euro 2016
Fernando Santos’ mentality has brought some unpleasant results in the group stage but however, Portugal shows enviable efficiency and “A Seleção” is on the 1/2 finals for fifth time out of seven attempts. Brilliant accomplishment for the Portuguese team and they’re dreaming to take theirs after that unfortunate home Euro 2004 campaign, when Portugal lost by Greece in Lisbon.
Twelve years later Portugal is on verge of another final positioning and they’ll hope to improve their semifinal record, after losing in three of all previous four. Last one was only four years ago when Portugal led by Paulo Bento lost to Spain in the Euro 2012 semi-finals and few days ago they have shown better penalty shootout efficiency. Indeed, Portugal scored all their penalties against Poland and youngster Renato Sanches became the youngest Portuguese player to start for the team at major event. He improved Cristiano Ronaldo’s achievement from Euro 2004 and except scoring Portugal’s equalizer in Poland’s net, Sanches showed great composure as he scored one of the penalties.
Two players who have missed the quarter-final vs Poland are questionable once again as Raphael Guerreiro and André Gomes should recover on time for the upcoming semifinal, although Eliseu was solid at the left-back. Andre Gomes’ return looks more important right now since another central midfielder in William Carvalho’s face will miss the upcoming round after picking second yellow card at Euro 2016. Thus Santos must reconsider his approach and he may once again name 4-1-3-2 lineup with Danilo Pereira between both lines (defense and midfield), or he can place the 4-4-2 formation, bringing João Moutinho back in the starting lineup. Renato Sanches’ starting position looks out of question after he became Man of the Match in second consecutive game – against Poland and also in the Round of 16 clash vs Croatia, although he enter on André Gomes’ position.
Portugal may be criticized for the lack of regular time wins as they already have a streak of six consecutive draws at the Euros (including the semi-final against Spain in Ukraine), but when their approach works and they found place in the final four, they cannot be accused at any point. Fernando Santos knows that and he saw that his team had some issues against “underdogs” in the group phase where Portugal couldn’t won against Iceland (1:1), Austria (0:0) and Hungary (3:3), so he simply changed the tactics and from team which hold the ball in most of the time (over 60% in each of the group games), Portugal became the team that leaves the ball to its opponents in both knockout games so far. Obviously a wise move by Fernando Santos which gave proper results.
The above mentioned 3-3 draw vs Hungary was exactly here, in Lyon, where Cristiano Ronaldo reminded us for his personality as he scored twice in Gabor Kiraly’s net, but unbelievably, this wasn’t enough and Portugal had to be pleased with one of the four positions in the best third-placed teams rankings.
Expectations towards Real Madrid’s superstar and Portuguese skipper are surely bigger, but even if he’s not scoring, Ronaldo engages lot of attention and this leaves spaces for all other Portuguese players as it happened against Poland. We saw that Polish defense was really busy to follow CR7 but one of their few mistakes in that game was punished after a great one-two combination between Renato Sanches and Nani. Latter is Ronaldo’s partner in the 4-4-2 formation preferred by Santos and we believe that Ricardo Quaresma will remain on bench once again, as he’ll enter on the field if that’s necessary. Portugal looks more solid when they’re using formation with four midfielders (no matter is it the 4-3-1-2, 4-1-3-2 or 4-4-2) so we don’t believe that Santos will turn to three attackers again, not when he must cope with the 3-5-1-1 formation used by his opponent in the managerial duel in Chris Coleman’s face.
Euro 2016 1/2 finals: Portugal vs Wales – Squads and Betting Tip
Portugal once again bears the weight of being nominated for favorite and Wales will try to find a way to benefit from that. Anyway, suspensions of two from the front line “Dragons” came in worst possible moment since Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey are not only two from the famous Welsh footballers, but they have been on top level at Euro 2016 as well. Maybe two from their top 4 players at the competition and that’s a huge blow for Chris Coleman and Wales.
Portugal will need the service of more creative midfielder in this one and there are two ways to filling the gap of William Carvalho’s suspension. As we already noted Danilo looks one of the most appropriate options to take his role but this pretty much depends on Fernando Santos’ plan. He can decide to carry on with the same 4-1-3-2 formation which requires strong defensive midfielder and Portugal finds it in face of two young and massive players like Carvalho and Danilo. However, if Santos wants to bring more football intelligence as experience, he may consider to return João Moutinho in the starting XI and we find enough options to start there. Especially if Andre Gomes manage to return on time.
Final conclusion and betting prediction
Despite fact that Wales have scored in every Euro 2016 encounter so far, Chris Coleman’s men will face against completely different side like Portugal. They’ll surely offer much better and better organized defense right now and even if Raphael Guerreiro fails to recover on time, Eliseu showed decent defensive display.
Wales still rides the spirit of all tremendous results so far but we believe that Portugal may end that streak when “Dragons” are seriously injured. Lost blood paid as a price for the aggression and bigger desire shown against Belgium may be with huge importance here and we already saw that Portugal shows tactical maturity and capability to defend well.
Asian Handicap -0.25 on Portugal. Regardless of all draws so far we believe that Portugal will take advantage from absence of Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey, so we expect Portugal to win this one. Even if we have another draw in Portugal’s Euro 2016 campaign, you won’t lose the full stake and will be refunded with half of your bet.
Referee: Jonas Eriksson from Sweden.
Venue: “Parc Olympique Lyonnais”, Lyon.
Possible starting lineups of Portugal and Wales
Portugal: Rui Patrício – Raphaël Guerreiro, José Fonte, Pepe, Cedric Soares – Andre Gomes, João Moutinho, Renato Sanches, João Mário – Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo (c). (4-4-2)
Wales: Wayne Hennessey – James Chester, Ashley Williams (c), James Collins – Chris Gunter, Joe Allen, David Edwards, Joe Ledley, Neil Taylor – Gareth Bale, Hal Robson-Kanu. (3-5-2)