July 6, 21:00 CET
Venue: Parc Olympique Lyonnais
Referee: Jonas Eriksson, Sweden
Portugal v Wales semi-final is, probably, the least expected match for the stage. These teams have had different paths throughout the whole tournament, but their goal is the same: they want to show good football, win and appear in the final… Or maybe, at this stage, the only important thing is to make it to the Final, other features don’t matter!
Portugal has made one of the most interesting ways to the semi-finals. Without a single full-time win, they reached this stage. Moreover, they haven’t even lost. All five Portugal games revealed no winner. After making it to the knockout stage from the third place, they have won against Croatia in the round of 16 due to Quaresma’s late extra-time winner. In the quarterfinals penalties were there to help them beat Poland.
Wales, on the other hand, have had both ugly games (against Northern Ireland (1-0)) and very beautiful football shows. The team was initially considered to be an underdog, as not a single forecaster would expect Wales to reach this high. But the team showed excellent football against Russia (3-0), Slovakia (2-1) in the group stage and Belgium (3-1) in the quarterfinals. One may fairly imply that Wales was the most impressive team of the quarterfinals. They have blocked Belgium star attack and midfield showing excellent counter-attacking skills.
These teams are not so familiar to each other. They have met only three times before, with Portugal winning twice and one time losing it to Wales. Important to note, that none of these games have been competitive. Last time the teams met was in 2000 for an International Friendly game, as Portugal won 3-0.
Cristiano Ronaldo v Gareth Bale
This is the most obvious, still the most intriguing battle on the field. This is an indirect battle, but it will reveal which Real Madrid player is the real leader of his team. This is were yesterday’s teammates become rivals. Both of the attackers are equipped physically and have unbelievable technical skills. They both run fast, create, shoot, realize headers. These are the two most complete players of the modern football. Gareth Bale, for example, has made 14 shots on target, more than any other player in the tournament. Three of his 14 shots turned into goals, two of which are from direct free-kicks. Ronaldo has scored twice netting one of the most beautiful goals of the group stage.
Portugal → Carvalho (suspended)
Wales → Ramsey, Davies (both suspended)