Tonight we see the second quarter-final of Euro 2016 taking place as the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille plays host to Wales and Belgium
Wales manager Chris Coleman has no injuries to worry about as he prepares his side for tonight’s historic encounter. Wales are currently competing in their first ever European Championship and have been in fine form so far in this competition. They topped their group despite a late loss against England, and while they did manage to send Northern Ireland home in the last 16, it was a somewhat unconvincing victory. Wales only previous international tournament saw them finish as quarter finalists in the 1958 World Cup and they will hoping to go that bit further tonight against a talented Belgian side.
On paper, there is no reason why Belgium can’t go on and win this tournament. They are the highest ranked team in Europe at the moment and have a team filled with superstars. There has been questions on their form prior to the tournament. Many of their star players had disappointing seasons at their respective clubs. Eden Hazard, Premier League Player of the Year in 2014/2015 had an awful season with Chelsea this year and goalkeeper Courtois’s form also raised questions at the club. Christian Benteke struggled to break into the Liverpool squad and make a meaningful impact. They also have something of an injury crises plaguing the defence. Regular center-backs Vincent Kompany & Nicolas Lombaerts were ruled out before the tournament even began. Thomas Vermaelen is suspended for tonight’s game and Jan Vertonghen has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with ankle ligament damage he sustained in training on Thursday. Romelu Lukaku’s younger brother Jordan is likely to come in at left-back while Manchester City youngster Jason Denayer is expected to slot in at center-back.
Ashley Williams shook off a shoulder injury he sustained at the end of their game against Northern Ireland and is expected to start tonight. The veteran Welsh captain’s fitness will be a relief to Chris Coleman who will need Wales to be at their very best to beat a Belgian side who ran out 4-0 winners in their last 16 encounter against Hungary. The three Premier League stars, De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku , make for a terrifying offence.
The bookies are not giving Wales much hope offering 4/1 odds for them to win. The leading goalscorer of the tournament so far, Gareth Bale will be hoping to add to his current 3 goal tally. The world’s most expensive player has been an important player for Wales in recent years and could be the one to make the difference to night against a shaky Belgian defence.
Babylon Radio Prediction: 3-1 to Belgium
Wales play Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarter final with kick-off in the Stade Pierre-Mauroy at 8 p.m. Irish time on TV3.