EURO 2016 resumes on Wednesday with the first semi-final – and it’s a game no one could have predicted … not even a nine-legged octopus.
Wales, a side ranked 107th in the world when Chris Coleman took charge, were simply meant to enjoy their first finals for 58 years – not try to go the whole way.
And they face a Portugal side who are the first to reach this stage without winning a game in 90 minutes. Bet365 go 25-1 they continue that run all the way to lifting the trophy on July 11 – and a draw looks possible in this one.
Their spokesman Steve Freeth said: “The normally reliant Cristiano Ronaldo has had spells in this tournament where he couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo but his Portugal side are grinding out victories and that’s all that matters. But like fellow underdogs Iceland they’ve set France alight and it’s incredible to think they’re 90 minutes from the Final.”
This is tough to call – carefree Wales against the pragmatic Portuguese. Wales have been the more impressive side but Fernando Santos’ Portuguese play like Greece and we know what happened in 2004.
I’d be supremely confident about Wales’ chances if Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies weren’t suspended. Ramsey, in particular, will be a big miss and has been on a par with Gareth Bale this tournament. He will replaced by Andy King while James Collins is tipped to replace Davies – both those changes make Wales weaker.
In fact five of Wales’ last eight goals have been scored or created by Ramsey while Bale has netted none of their four in the knockout stage. That shows Ramsey’s influence and he was man of the match in the 3-1 win over Belgium in the last round.
Portugal though will be missing experienced defender William Carvalho and have a major doubt over centre-half Pepe who has a thigh strain
William Hill have Portugal as 5-4 favourites to win in 90 minutes with Wales 16-5 at Stan James. I reckon it’s nearer 50-50 so for me so draw at 21-10 with McBookie and Ladbrokes is the call or consider Wales to qualify at 13-8 with Coral.
I correctly tipped the two quarter-final penalty shoot-outs and there could be another tonight. That pays 4-1 at William Hill. Portugal will be regarded as favourites if it goes to penalties as Wales have never been involved in one but at the end of the day it’s simply a test of nerve.
The Portuguese have won three out of four shoot-outs at major tournament finals and are 10-1 at BetBright to win on penalties.
Bale is 7-2 with bet365 to outscore his Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo whose only goals came in a 3-3 group draw against Hungary. Ronaldo is 11-5 with the tie 4-5.
You can have 9-1 with bet365 on Bale to score direct from a free-kick with Ronaldo – who has never netted one in finals – 10-1.
To score Bale is 23-10 with 888sport while Ronaldo is 5-4 at Ladbrokes. For first scorer McBookie are biggest on Bale at 11-2 while Ronaldo is 10-3 with William Hill.
Both teams netted in all four of the quarter-finals and I fancy that again at 5-4 with Stan James.
Both teams to score
Wales to qualify
Bale to score