July 1, 21:00 CET
Venue: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France
Referee: Damir Skomina, Slovenia
A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning. Billie Jean King
Wales and Belgium have shown excellent football in Euro-2016 so far. With only one loss each, these teams have shown a constructive correction of mistakes. Both of them are considered to hold the power behind the throne. However, returning to the quote above, they should get the mentality of the champion to be able to proceed. These teams are too inexperienced in the international field and might get ‘afraid of winning’. Or, maybe they are already feeling like lifting the cup?
The group stage was a bit different for these teams. While at the very beginning everyone thought Belgium are the favorites of the tournament, Wales were considered obvious underdogs. However, after Bale and Ramsey shined for Wales and Belgium lost to Italy (2-0), the roles shifted a bit. Wales entered the knockout stage as the head of their group, while Belgium were the runners-up.
As regards to the round of 16, Wales did not show best of them. Northern Ireland had a constructive defense, blocking almost all penetrations by the Wales stars. Only an own goal by Ireland defender helped Wales qualify.
Belgium, on contrast, has scored 4, keeping a clean sheet against Hungary. Hazard and company were an obvious higher class then Hungary, showing a high accuracy and conversion rates. Exactly what a favorite does.
So do they shift the roles again?
Wales and Belgium have had 10 encounters, where Belgium has an advantage of one win. By the way, this is their first encounter in major international tournament final stages.
Former and present Tottenham players will meet in a battle for reining Belgium’s penalty area. One of the most effective defenders of the whole tournament so far will meet one of the most obvious leaders. Belgium centre-back Toby Alderweireld is a player who is everywhere (even scored once) and is keen on clearing the penalty are from any dangerous situations for his team. The only weakness Toby has, is that he is not that strong in aerial duels.
On the other hand, Gareth Bale, who has already scored 3 goals in the current tournament, can win those aerial duels. His through passes and dribbles can open up almost any defense, and this tournament has been a proof of his genius
Wales → none
Belgium → Vermaelen (suspended)
|Wales 5.25||X 3.47||Belgium 1.74|
|To Qualify ½ Final|
|Wales 3.20||Belgium 1.32|