Wales versus Portugal : Euro 16 Semi-final Preview

Euro 2016 has reached the semi-final stages with the first last-four clash taking place on Wednesday night, as Portugal goes head-to-head with Wales in Lyon.

Portugal have failed to win any of their games in France in normal time, but have somehow made it to the last four of the competition. Last time out the Selecao needed a penalty shoot-out to get past Poland, after the game finished in a 1-1 draw in normal and extra-time.

Poland got off to the perfect start in that clash with Robert Lewandowski scoring after just two minutes. The lead lasted until 33 minutes when highly-rated youngster Renato Sanches struck found the net with a deflected effort from the edge of the area.

Mercurial winger Ricardo Quaresma was the hero in penalty shoot-out, after Dortmund winger Jakub Blaszczykowski had missed from the penalty spot.

Fernando Santos’ team have disappointed in France, especially star player Cristiano Ronaldo whose two goals in the competition came in the 3-3 draw with Hungary. The Selecao have now won just one of their last seven outings in 90 minutes.

Ronaldo will go head-to-head with Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale, with both players determined to come out on top and make Sunday’s final in Paris.

Portugal does have the edge over Wales in the head-to-head between these two teams, winning two of the three meetings between the two teams. The last meeting between the pair was 16 years ago in a friendly match that finished in a 3-0 win for Portugal.

The Selecao heads into this game without the suspended William Carvalho, who is likely to be replaced by Danilo. Real Madrid centre-back Pepe is a doubt and if he fails to recover in time is likely to be replaced by veteran Ricardo Carvalho.

European Championships debutants Wales have been one of the competition’s surprise packages and produced a superb 3-1 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals.

The Red Devils started the game in a strong manner and took the lead through highly-rated midfielder Radja Nainggolan. However, Welsh captain Ashley Williams equalised, before goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and substitute Sam Vokes in the second half sealed a historic victory for Chris Coleman’s team.

The Dragons have won four of their five games in the competition and only host nation France has scored more goals in their five tournament games.

Real Madrid star Gareth Bale is no doubt Wales’ star player and he has scored three times in France. The former-Tottenham star will be looking to help his team reach the final and in the process get the better of Los Blancos teammate Ronaldo.

Wales have fielded a relatively consistent team throughout Euro 2016. However, Wales boss Chris Coleman will have to make at least two changes to his team for this clash, as both Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey picked-up their second yellow cards of the campaign against Belgium, so are both suspended. Ramsey will particularly be missed as he has produced four assists in France so far.

West Ham’s experienced centre-back James Collins is likely to replace Davies, while Andy King and Jonathan Williams are in contention to replace the influential Ramsey in midfield.

This game will be billed as Cristiano Ronaldo v Gareth Bale, because both are regarded as their teams most high-profile individuals. However, it is far more than that with both teams desperate to make it to Sunday’s final.

Wales will be hoping that they will not miss their two suspended players too much, while Portugal will be looking for Ronaldo to rediscover his best form, after some disappointing displays from the prolific forward.