Wales vs Belgium;
Euro 2016: Quarter Finals,
Date: Friday, July 1, 2016,
Kick-off: 20:00 UK Time,
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy (Lille).
Wales lock horns with Belgium for the second Euro 2016 quarter finals at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille on Friday evening.
Belgium showed us why they are ranked two in FIFA rankings with the disciplined performance in the 4-0 win against underdogs Hungary in the round of 16 clash at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse. The Red Devils had finally come to life after some unconvincing and inconsistent displays in the group stage. They were defeated by Italy in the opening group game, but bounced back with an excellent 3-0 win over Ireland, which was followed by a narrow 1-0 win over Sweden. However, Hungary were not expected to trouble them much in the knock-out clash and Marc Wilmots can take a lot of positives with the big win. He had specifically pin pointed the impressive performance of captain Eden Hazard, but we hope he like to see more of the same from Kevin De Bruyne in the coming stages.
Wales were surprise toppers of Group B above England and Slovakia, much to the fantastic team effort and the excellent striking abilities of start man Gareth Bale. But they didn’t look as comfortable against a well-organized Northern Ireland in the round of 16. Wales were unarguably the second best team on the night and needed an own goal from Gareth McAuley to book the ticket to the quarter finals. At the same time, one cannot underestimate the fighting spirit in this unit and they have the ability to mount a big upset. The big positive for Chris Coleman is the fact that the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen had all come to the party, which will ease the pressure of Gareth Bale in the coming days.
Wales: Team News
Chris Coleman is sweating on the fitness of his captain Ashley Williams, who collided awkwardly with team mate Jonathan Williams in the closing stages of the match against Northern Ireland. West Ham defender James Collins could get the nod if Williams is deemed unfit to start in time. Other than this probably forced change, the starting line-up is expected to remain the same as in the round of 16 clash.
Aaron Ramsey, Neil Taylor, Sam Voakes and Ben Davies are one yellow card away from a one-match automatic suspension.
Wales: Predicted Line-up (3-5-2):
Hennessey – Williams, Davies, Chester – Gunter, Taylor, Ramsey, Allen, Ledley – Bale, Voakes.
Belgium: Team News
Thomas Vermaelen is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament against Hungary and he could be replaced by Manchester City youngster Jason Denayer.
Marc Wilmots is likely to recall Yannick Carrasco into the starting line-up in place of Dries Mertens. Other than these two changes, the line-up is expected to remain the same as in previous outings.
Belgium: Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1):
Courtois – Vertonghen, Denayer, Alderweireld, Meunier – Nainggolan, Witsel – Hazard, De Bruyne, Carrasco – Lukaku.
Wales vs Belgium: Head-to-Head Stats
Belgium are meeting Wales for the first time in a major tournament. And there is little to choose between them from their last 10 competitive meetings. Belgium slightly edge the stats with 4 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses.
These two sides were grouped during the qualification phase for Euro 2016. Wales got the better of their opponents by winning the home leg 1-0 before holding Belgium to a 0-0 draw in the away leg.
Wales are unbeaten in the last three meetings against Belgium with 1 win and 2 draws.
Belgium’s last win against Wales was a 2-0 away victory during the World Cup 2014 qualification campaign on September 2012.
The last four meetings between these two teams had seen under 2.5 goals, with both teams scoring only once.
Wales vs Belgium: Prediction
The Belgians had lifted their stakes after an impressive 4-0 win against Hungary and they look unstoppable on their current form. They had conceded 2 goal in the tournament so far, that too in the first group game against Italy. With three consecutive clean sheets and with 8 goals scored from the last three matches, they look like a well balanced side and there is plenty of star quality in all departments.
Wales are huge underdogs for this match and any chances for their success here depends on the brilliance of one man Gareth Bale. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen can contribute a lot to the cause, but the uncertainty on the injury situation of Ashley Williams will be a big blow to their chances. Coleman will be hoping that his captain gets fit on time and his team can repeat the defensive performance in the matches against Russia and Northern Ireland.
Belgium look good to earn a semi final spot and we believe they will eventually get their win inside the regulation 90 minutes. Even though, this won’t be an easy battle by any means as one could expect Wales to set out with a highly organized defensive strategy. Unlike the last four meetings between the sides, goals are likely in this clash and I back both teams to score and witness over 2.5 goals from this quarter final tie.
Belgium to win
Over 2.5 goals
Both Teams to Score