5:00 AM (AEST) Thursday, July 7 at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon
Thursday morning will see the first Semi-Final at the UEFA Euro Championships being played between Portugal and Wales.
Portugal: Rui Patrício; Cédric, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Raphäel Guerreiro; Danilo, João Mário, João Moutinho, Adrien Silva; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wales: Hennessey; Gunter, Chester, Williams, Davies, Taylor; Ramsey, Ledley, Allen; Bale, Robson-Kanu.
These two nations have only met once before, way back in June of 2000. On that occasion Portugal romped home with a 3-0 victory over the hapless Welsh outfit.
Portugal were quite lucky to sneak into the knock out stage after they finished third in the group. They drew all three of their group matches against Iceland 1 all, Austria 0 all and Hungary 3 all. The 4 best third placed sides qualified for the knockout stage. Portugal finished third and were the only team to reach the playoffs without having won a single game. They looked set to score a 4th straight draw in the Round of 16 against Croatia, before a Quaresma goal in extra time gave them their first win. They then drew 1 all with Poland in the Quarters, but got through to the semi after winning the shootout 5-3.
Wales has surprised the world with their great performances in the tournament so far which has got them into the final four and with their best chance to play in the final that they could have ever imagined. They beat Solvakia 2-1 in the opening round, before going down to neighbours England 2-1 in the second group match. They struck form in their 3-0 victory over Russia, which saw them top their group. They then beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in the Round of 16 and followed it up with a decisive 3-1 victory over Belgium in their Quarter Final.
Robson-Kanu v Ronaldo – The strikers for both sides are key, but for different reasons. Wales of late have been scoring goals effectively however Portugal have been struggling in an area where they should be performing much better. Robson-Kanu is playing well and with plenty of confidence, while Ronaldo is the direct opposite. But he can turn that form around in the blink of an eye. Champions always do and they have a tendency to rise to the big occasions, much like this match.
On paper, Portugal has the far superior side. But results and form wise, it is Wales who is far more superior. How much longer can Wales dream run continue? How much longer can Portugal stumble their way through the competition towards the final?