Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prediction: Portugal vs Wales

Verdict: Wales to qualify

Best Odds: 3/2

Bookmaker: William Hill

Having reached the Euro 2016 semi-final without winning a single game, Portugal will have to prove they are better than their recent results suggest if they want to stand any chance of reaching the final. Wales, on the other hand, are flying high after the remarkable comeback against Belgium and they head into the game at Parc OL believing they can go all the way.

Portugal

It does not really make sense to describe a team’s performances as disappointing if they exceed expectations to reach a semi-final of a major international competition, but the reality is that Portugal have been incredibly fortunate to go this far after failing to impress in any of their five fixtures at the Euro 2016 finals. Their under-par showings did come as a surprise after the Selecao had shown a great deal of potential in warm-up games, but they just cannot seem to rediscover their form at the moment. After squeezing past the group stage, Portugal were outplayed by both Croatia and Portugal, but eventually went through after extra time and penalty shoot-out respectively, so it is clear that they need to raise their game if they want to see off high-flying Wales side. The major issue at the moment is the poor form of star player Cristiano Ronaldo, who was nowhere to be seen in the two knockout stage matches, and the Selecao’s chances of progressing to the final will depend a great deal on whether the Real Madrid superstar can finally produce the performance we all know he is capable of. The fact they failed to win any of the five Euro 2016 games in regular time is likely to place extra pressure on Fernando Santos’ men, and we seriously doubt luck will be on their side yet again.

Team News

Holding midfielder William Carvalho misses out through suspension, with Danilo Pereira widely expected to deputise against Wales.

Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches is almost certain to keep his place after a thoroughly impressive showing against Poland.

Wales

While both Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal have struggled for form at the Euro 2016 finals, Gareth Bale and Wales have excelled in France, and the Dragons have a unique opportunity to fight for a major title on their first ever European Championship appearance. Throughout the qualifying campaign, the Real Madrid superstar enjoyed the added responsibility of leading Chris Coleman’s side, and unlike his Portuguese teammate, he continued the rich vein of form at the tournament finals. Bale scored in each of three group games to help the Dragons finish top of their group and he also had a role to play in Hal Robson-Kanu’s magnificent goal that will probably go down as one of the best in the national team history. Wales showed a great deal of quality and character to come back from a goal down in the quarter-final against Belgium, and they are now brimming with confidence ahead of the Portugal clash, despite the fact that they will be missing the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies. The Arsenal midfielder will be especially missed after enjoying a great tournament so far, but it is the team spirit that has been Wales’ main strength in France and we believe Chris Coleman will find a way to compensate for one of his best players.

Team News

Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies are both missing through suspension, with James Collins almost certain to replace the Spurs defender in the starting line-up.

And while Andy King would be an obvious choice to stand in for Ramsey, Chris Coleman could go with Jonathan Williams instead.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Portugal recorded a 3-0 win in the only meeting with Wales
  • The Selecao also made it to the semi-final at Euro 2012
  • This will be Wales’ first ever semi-final at a major competition
  • Portugal failed to win any of the five games so far
  • Wales won four of five fixtures in France

Conclusion

We honestly don’t know how Portugal have gone this far without coming even close to playing to their potential and we don’t think they can show serious improvement against Wales. The Dragons, on the other hand, fully deserve to be in this position and even with Aaron Ramsey missing, their incredible team spirit, great form and one Gareth Bale should help secure a place in the final.

Verdict: Wales to qualify

Best Odds: 3/2

Bookmaker: William Hill

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