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Germany and Italy Preview as Wales Qualify

The second day of Euro 2016 quarter-finals saw Wales produce a fantastic display to defeat Belgium 3-1 in Lille.

Belgium took the lead on 13 minutes. Eden Hazard found Roma central midfielder Radja Nainggolan 25 yards out from goal and the highly-rated star drilled a superb effort past Wayne Hennessey, despite the Crystal Palace getting a hand to the effort.

The Dragons were level on the half hour mark. Captain Ashley Williams came up for a corner kick from Aaron Ramsey and headed home powerfully when completely unmarked in the Belgian penalty area.

Wales took the lead rather against the run of play on 55 minutes and it was an incredible goal. Aaron Ramsey found striker Hal-Robson Kanu in the box with his back to goal, but the former Reading striker looked surrounded by Belgium defenders, only to produce a Cruyff turn and wrong-foot them all and slot past Thibaut Courtois in the Belgium goal.

Belgium huffed and puffed, but created very little of note to threaten the Welsh goal and on 85 minutes the Dragons sealed their place in the semi-finals. Wing-back Chris Gunter got down the right wing and produce a pinpoint cross right onto the head of substitute Sam Vokes, who headed powerfully past Courtois in the Belgium goal.

Wales will now face Portugal on Wednesday night in Lyon as their incredible debut campaign at the European Championships continues.

But as the dust settles over Wales' historic win, we must look to this evening's game for the next football action.

Two of Europe’ biggest countries will meet on Saturday night in the quarter-finals as Germany and Italy face each other in Bordeaux.

The world champions secured their place in the last-eight of the competition by recording a 3-0 victory over Slovakia. Die Mannschaft opened the scoring on eight minutes courtesy of a deflected volley from Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng on eight minutes.

That lead was doubled on 43 minutes, as striker Mario Gomez scored from close-range. Winger Julian Draxler sealed the win with a well-taken volley in the second half.

The use of experienced striker Gomez was almost a last resort, but his selection has paid dividends with the 30-year-old looking to add to his two goals in France so far against a stubborn Italian backline.

Ironically the final of this tournament falls of Gomez’s 31st birthday and the striker will be hoping to be in Paris with his team for that occasion.

The victory over Slovakia means that Germany are unbeaten in France and have kept clean sheets in all their games on French soil. In fact Germany have kept clean sheets in their last five international outings.

Germany have taken part in 12 consecutive European Championships, having not missed out since their first qualifying campaign as West Germany in 1968. The last time the world champions failed to get to the last-four of this competition was in 2004, when they did not even make it out of the group stages.

Germany may be world champions and have quality players in their squad, but Italy are their bogey side, as Die Mannschaft have failed to beat the Azzurri in their last eight meetings at international tournaments.

The last time the two met in competitive action came at Euro 2012 when Italy recorded a 2-1 win in the semi-finals of the competition. One positive for the world champions is the fact that they defeated Italy 4-1 in a friendly international earlier this year.

Germany boss Joachim Low has a fully-fit squad to choose from for this clash. The same starting eleven from the Slovakia game is likely to start.

Italy have proved many of their doubters wrong in France by making the last-eight of the competition. The Azzurri made the quarter-finals in style by eliminating reigning European champions Spain with a 2-0 win.

Italy took the lead on 33 minutes through a close-range effort from centre-back Giorgio Chiellini. David De Gea in the Spain goal and Gianluigi Buffon in the Italy goal both pulled-off good saves.

However the Azzurri doubled their lead in stoppage-time, as Southampton forward Graziano Pelle scored his second of the tournament from close-range. Pelle looks to be in a good position to win the golden boot, but faces a tough task getting past a stubborn German backline.

Italy have won five out of their last six international games, with their only defeat in that run coming in a 1-0 defeat against the Republic of Ireland in a game that did not matter to Antonio Conte’s team.

The Azzurri also kept clean sheets in all five of those victories. Italy’s last six games have been low-scoring affairs with under 2.5 goals scored in their last six games.

Antonio Conte’s team have a few personnel issues heading into this clash. Defensive midfielder Thiago Motta is suspended, while fellow midfielder Daniele De Rossi and wing-back Antonio Candreva are fitness doubts.

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