Wales face Portugal at the Stade des Lumieres in Lyon on Wednesday July 6, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm UK time.
- Portugal tackle Wales in Lyon for a place in the final
- The winners will face either France or Germany at the Stade de France on Sunday
- This is Wales’s first major semi-final; Portugal have won one of four previous semis
- Portugal have yet to win at UEFA EURO 2016 inside 90 minutes
- Ben Davies, Aaron Ramsey and William Carvalho all banned; Pepe is a doubt
The first semi-final will be billed as the battle between Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the clash between Portugal and Wales will be about so much more.
Real Madrid stars Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo will enter opposing dressing rooms in Lyon and their tussle will form a fascinating subplot, but Chris Coleman will be focused on harnessing the team spirit which has carried Wales to this point.
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Portugal are yet to win in 90 minutes at the France finals, while Wales brushed aside world No 2 side Belgium and also recorded wins against Northern Ireland, Russia and Slovakia earlier in the tournament.
On one side, you have a highly talented Portugal team that have yet to play their best football and are too reliant on individual efforts and moments of genius―in many ways, they’re similar to Wales’ last opponents, Belgium.
Meanwhile, Wales have done far better than fans and pundits would have imagined, playing as a tight-knit group that does plenty of damage on the counter and in the air. Bale has been key, but others, like Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey, have proved the Welsh are about far more than their star Real Madrid man.
Portugal: Rui Patrício; Cédric, Fonte, Ricardo Carvalho, Guerreiro; Danilo, João Mário, Adrien Silva, Sanches; Nani, Ronaldo.
Out: William Carvalho (suspended)
Doubt: Pepe (thigh)
- Fernando Santos faces an anxious wait on Pepe after he picked up a thigh injury in training; Ricardo Carvalho is his likely replacement. Raphaël Guerreiro has shaken off a knock and is set to return on the left, while Danilo will come in for William Carvalho in a like-for-like switch in front of the back four.
Wales: Hennessey; Chester, Ashley Williams, Collins; Gunter, Allen, Ledley, Jonathan Williams, Taylor; Bale, Robson-Kanu.
Out: Davies (suspended), Ramsey (suspended)
- For the first time in France, Chris Coleman will make enforced changes with influential duo Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey both banned. James Collins is the probable understudy for Davies, while Jonny Williams could cover for Ramsey and offer Wales an extra attacking option as opposed to a more defensive deputy.
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Wales Player to watch
Has there been a more consistent superstar in this tournament beside Gareth Bale? The Welshman has led his nation this far even after his worst performance to date against Belgium. Even then he was creating opportunities and helping with the countering.
Portugal player to watch
Renato Sanches has been the best player for Portugal when he has been on the pitch, but Ronaldo is still the main man and the one capable of making this team rise above the rest. Ronaldo has run hot and cold in this tournament from a goalscoring perspective, but there is no denying that the Real Madrid superstar has been creating chances (he created four against Poland) and has also been a difference maker when he tracks back deep and helps in the build up. He has been better in that respect as this tournament has evolved and that should not change in the biggest game of the year.
As for goalscoring, Ronaldo struggled in the first two group games before breaking his slump with an emphatic third group game. He has struggled in the first two knockout games and will have extra motivation to overcome Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale. No one wants to score more than him and he will look to do that.
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