Real Madrid Galácticos Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will meet at the Stade de Lyon on Wednesday evening, ready to do battle over a place in the final as Portugal takes the pitch against Wales in the first semi-final of Euro 2016.
For Portugal, this is their chance to right the past after losing Euro 2004 to Greece, while it's an opportunity for Wales to make their first appearance in a major international final. Either way it goes, this semi-final is sure to be a fascinating encounter filled with betting opportunities.
Portugal have the unlikely honour of playing in a Euro 2016 semi-final without winning any of their games in 90 minutes. Three draws in the group stage were enough for them to scrape into the round of 16, where they edged past Croatia 1-0 in extra time.
Then came a tense 1-1 draw with Poland that had to be settled 5-3 on penalties. The Portuguese needed good fortune to make the knockout stages, but now they're showing a willingness to play tough to win their ties.
Nevertheless, Portugal head coach Fernando Santos should be concerned his team has played through extra time in successive matches. Meanwhile, Wales are better rested after beating both Northern Ireland and Belgium in 90 minutes.
Portugal have talented youngsters in midfield and a relatively strong defence, but they will need Ronaldo to contribute if their tournament is to culminate in glory.
Thus far, Ronaldo has struggled to cope with the pressure of delivering for his country and has not played well at Euro 2016. If Ronaldo is poor against Wales, Portugal’s run could come to an end.
Belgium looked like strong contenders after comfortably beating Hungary 4-0 in their encounter, with Eden Hazard particularly impressive in scoring a superb solo goal at 79 minutes. Having witnessed the Belgians demolish Hungary, the Welsh had to be wary of their quarter-final opponents.
From kick-off, it seemed as though Belgium were determined to progress. Marc Wilmots’ side were moving forward with more drive than their opponents when Radja Nainggolan scored from outside the box after just 13 minutes.
Another Welsh cause for concern were the three yellow cards drawn during the first 24 minutes, with Chris Coleman forced to consider his team’s discipline. However, Wales started commanding most of the possession after going behind, while their opponents seemed uncertain of how to proceed with their early goal.
This allowed for Wales to seize momentum when captain Ashley Williams headed in an equaliser from a corner at 30 minutes. Wales then marched forward to secure a 3-1 victory with goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes.
Despite beating Belgium, Coral Sports has priced Wales as 3/1 underdogs to win in 90 minutes, while Portugal are available at 23/20. When it comes to qualifying, Portugal are still favourites at 1/2 and Wales are outsiders at 13/8.
The logical explanation is that Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey received his second yellow card of the tournament versus Belgium and will be suspended against Portugal.
The Arsenal man has been superb at Euro 2016 and is responsible for assisting four of his country’s ten goals so far. Without him, Wales lack a creative presence in central midfield.
For this encounter, it's worth considering a draw at 21/10, given how Portugal seem to live for extra time and Ramsey will be missing for Wales. If this does happen, then 9/2 odds for the match going to penalties would be rewarding.
Another interesting option is to back a red card in 90 minutes at 7/2. With both teams on edge, the slightest drop in concentration could lead to a clumsy challenge.
Coral has two other match specials for those who like to make player bets. The first is to back Ronaldo scoring and Portugal to win in 90 minutes at 5/2, while the second is for Bale to score and Wales winning in 90 minutes at 6/1.
If you trust the stars to shine, Ronaldo is available as first scorer at 10/3 and Bale is priced at 5/1. For all the latest odds on Euro 2016 including the other semi-final between Germany and France, visit Coral Sports today!
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