We find ourselves at the semi-final stage of Euro 2016 and I can't quite believe that I'm saying this but the first of our 2 matches pits Portugal against Wales! Wales have done magnificently well to make it this far and they will be brimming with confidence after seeing off Belgium comfortably in the last round whereas Portugal will be hoping their luck can continue.
Portugal managed to squeeze past Poland in the Quarter Final as I predicted they would because they always manage find a slice of luck from somewhere or pull something out of the bag after playing an awful 90 minutes. They managed this yet again against Poland and there's a serious chance they could do it again against Wales. I read a stat yesterday that said that Portugal have not even won a game in 90 minutes at these Euro's and somehow they're through to the semi-final stage - its utter madness. Portugal will need all the luck in the world and for Cristiano Ronaldo to actually remember he is a world class player if they're to beat this Wales team who just keep surprising everybody.
Speaking of Wales, I can't believe they have made it this far! They would've been a hell of a spread bet pre-tournament but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? The way they recovered from that Nainggolan thunderbolt to beat Belgium 3-1 was very impressive and indicative of the team spirit that Chris Coleman has created since he took over from the late Gary Speed. Don't get me wrong, I think Gary Speed laid a lot of foundations down there and Coleman has just taken that and let it blossom but Coleman deserves a lot of credit for what he's done. Other players like Robson-Kanu and Ashley Williams are also stepping up now to help relieve the pressure on Gareth Bale but Bale will need to have another top game as will the others to see off Portugal, can they do it again? I want to say no but I just can't.
I think Portugal will once again find a win from somewhere and it wouldn't surprise me if Wales battered them for the entirety of the game but failed to win. I don't know how Portugal do it but they just keep getting through games and I know their luck has to run out soon but I think that will be against Germany or France, not Wales.
Most of Wales games have been high scoring games however Portugal's have been mainly low scoring affairs. The one reason why this bet could come in is because Portugal always seem to match the amount of goals scored by their opponents. This was evident in the 3-3 draw against Hungary in the Group Stage so if Wales bang a couple in, don't be surprised to see Portugal hit back.
Correct score predictions only count for the 90 minutes so I'm going for 1-1 and Portugal to reach the final without winning a game in 90 minutes, crazy. Wales can win this game but like I said earlier, Portugal always seem to do enough and I can't shake that feeling again here.
Another thing you can count on with Portugal is boredom. They have been so boring to watch this tournament and always seem to drag the other team into their pit of boredom with them which makes for awful viewing. Wales have been very exciting throughout the tournament but could be dragged into that pit themselves like much better teams before them have been. I think this will be a stalemate all the way up to extra time.
I've backed Nani to score first a few times this tournament and he has only managed to bag one. I think he will have a bit more space in this game as people tend to want to mark Cristiano Ronaldo (understandably) so he gets off a bit lightly usually. He always has a goal in him and what better way to celebrate his move to La Liga side Valencia with a goal that could send his team into the final of Euro 2016.
A game that contains both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo can be decided by the finest of margins. These margins are what make Bale and Ronaldo match winners and one dribble into the box, or a step over that's just a little bit too quick for an eager or tired defender could result in a match deciding penalty for either side. Then you also factor in that Portugal have Pepe who could either dive and win a penalty for them or give one away trying to gnaw on a strikers leg, he is so unpredictable that this is a decent bet to take.