EURO 2016 has been reduced to just eight teams with the second quarter-final taking place tonight as Wales take on Belgium in Lille. The two sides were in the same qualifying group so both teams know each other well.
Path to the quarters:
Wales got their EURO campaign off to a dream start when Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu fired them to victory over Slovakia in their opening game. Bale then put Wales ahead against England but a second half comeback saw England snatch all three points from the men in red. Their final group game saw them rip Russia apart. Aaron Ramsey, Neil Taylor and Gareth Bale all scored in a 3-0 win that saw them top Group B. The last 16 saw them come up against Northern Ireland. It was quite an even contest but a Bale cross forced Northern Ireland’s Gareth McAuley to slide into action ahead of Robson-Kanu. His intervention saw the ball head into his own net booking Wales’ place in the quarter-final. Bale has been crucial to the nation’s success but he has received support from Ramsey,Allen and Kanu. As a collective unit Wales have worked well but face a tough test tonight.
Belgium looked to be in serious trouble when Italy dominated them running out 2-0 winners in their opening game but the ‘Golden Generation’ of Belgian football rebounded in the next game hammering Ireland 3-0 with Romelu Lukaku scoring a brace with Axel Witsel nodding home the other. Their final group game against Sweden was decided by a Radja Nainggolan strike that sealed their spot as runners-up in Group E. The last 16 saw them demolish Hungary 4-0. The team clicked last Sunday with Eden Hazard stealing the headlines with a storming display. Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick allowed Toby Alderweireld head them ahead before substitute Michy Batshuayi and Eden Hazard score within 94 seconds in the second half. Yannick Carrasco wrapped up the scoring in injury time as Belgian made a real statement of intent. Thibaut Courtois has been reliable in the Belgian goal and with such talented teammates in front of him Belgium are favourites tonight.
The sides recent meetings in qualifying saw the sides draw 0-0 in Belgium before Gareth Bales scored a winner for Wales in Cardiff. This game should be a great battle. As in all quarter-finals extra-time and penalties are a possibility should the sides be level at 90 and 120 mins.
The winner of this game will face Portugal in the semi-final on Wednesday night.