Euro 2016: Wales out to inflict more semi-final woe on Portugal

Wales just have one hurdle to cross before they the Euro 2016 Cup Finals.

By: Reuters | Updated: July 5, 2016 2:12 pm
Wales, Wales Euro 2016, Wales Euro, Wales vs Portugal semi final, POR vs Wales, Wales vs POR, EURO 2016 semi finals, Euro 2016 semi finalists, Euro 2016 scores, Euro 2016 fixture, gareth bale, cristiano Ronaldo, Football, Sports News Wales will face Portugal in a Euro 2016 semifinal match at the Grand Stade in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon, France. (Source: AP)

It will be virgin territory for Wales when they face Portugal in the Euro 2016 semi-finals yet their opponents could be forgiven a sense of deja vu as they step on to the pitch in Lyon on Wednesday.

This will be Portugal’s fourth semi-final in the last five editions of the competition stretching back to 2000, but for all their success in reaching the latter stages of the tournament, there has been little glory along the way.

Wales, Wales Euro 2016, Wales Euro, Wales vs Portugal semi final, POR vs Wales, Wales vs POR, EURO 2016 semi finals, Euro 2016 semi finalists, Euro 2016 scores, Euro 2016 fixture, gareth bale, cristiano Ronaldo, Football, Sports News From left, Wales’ James Collins, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Ledley, Joe Allen and Jonathan Williams attend a training session in Dinard, France. (Source: AP)

Read | Euro 2016, Portugal vs Wales: Andre Gomes backs Portugal to feast on Wales weaknesses

Only once have they overcome the last-four hurdle and then they were beaten in the final by Greece as hosts at Euro 2004.

If you include their defeat in the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup and a loss at the Euros in 1984, they are becoming all too familiar with the pitfalls of this stage of major tournaments.

Wales, Wales Euro 2016, Wales Euro, Wales vs Portugal semi final, POR vs Wales, Wales vs POR, EURO 2016 semi finals, Euro 2016 semi finalists, Euro 2016 scores, Euro 2016 fixture, gareth bale, cristiano Ronaldo, Football, Sports News Wales’ Gareth Bale attends a training session in Dinard, France. (Source: AP)

Also Read | Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale: Tale of two leaders

Portugal’s conquerors in their recent last-four clashes have included football powerhouses France, at Euro 2000 and the World Cup in 2006, and Spain at Euro 2012.

Should they lose to Wales, playing their first major tournament in 58 years and their first ever semi-final, it would be a devastating blow.

Read More | UEFA frowns upon Wales squad playing with kids after games

Yet Wales are arguably the form team coming into the match.

Chris Coleman’s side have revelled in their underdog status to win their group, which also included England, Russia and Slovakia, ease out British rivals Northern Ireland in the last 16 and sweep past heavy favourites Belgium in the quarters.

Wales, Wales Euro 2016, Wales Euro, Wales vs Portugal semi final, POR vs Wales, Wales vs POR, EURO 2016 semi finals, Euro 2016 semi finalists, Euro 2016 scores, Euro 2016 fixture, gareth bale, cristiano Ronaldo, Football, Sports News Wales’ fitness coach Adam Owen gives indications to players during a training session. (Source: AP)

Portugal are yet to win a match at the tournament inside 90 minutes, having drawn all three group games, beaten Croatia in extra time and squeezed past Poland on penalties.

Things are yet to click for Portugal, and by extension for captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who has at times looked exasperated by his team mates’ attacking shortcomings.

Euro 2016 semi-finalists form guide

Yet Portugal are unbeaten in 12 competitive internationals since Fernando Santos took over as coach at the start of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

With Ronaldo’s Real Madrid team mate Pepe marshalling an increasingly assured defence, they will be tough to break down.

Especially for a Wales side deprived of one of their most talented creative influences in midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who will be suspended after picking up a booking in the win over Belgium.

While Gareth Bale has been Wales’s attacking talisman, scoring three times to lift them out of their group, Ramsey has been arguably their most influential player, scoring one and producing four assists in the run to the last four.

The match is likely to be billed as a contest between the two most expensive players in the world — Ronaldo, who will play a record third European Championship semi-final, and his Real Madrid team mate Bale.

Perhaps ominously for Wales, Ronaldo has netted twice in each of his last two games in Lyon for club and country.

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