Euro 2016 betting: Superstar teammates turn rivals for semi-final

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Updated: July 6, 2016

 

Today’s featured Euro 2016 semi-final betting preview: Portugal v Wales; Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon, France; Thursday, July 7, 5am

 

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Wales are preparing for the biggest game in their history when they play Portugal in Lyon for a place in the final of Euro 2016. Chris Coleman’s side have already enjoyed a memorable run to reach their first semi-final at their only major tournament since 1958. England are the only British team to have reached the final of a World Cup or European Championship, 50 years ago. More than half of the Welsh population of three million are expected to watch their country take on regular European semi-finalists Portugal, eclipsing the national television record for a sporting event, which was only set on Friday for their 3-1 quarter-final victory over Belgium.

Ranked a record low of 117 in the world in August 2011, Wales could end the tournament in the top six, having won four of their five games so far at Euro 2016. They beat Slovakia and Russia in the group stages, with their only defeat a last-minute 2-1 loss to England. They knocked out Northern Ireland 1-0 in the last 16 before overcoming Belgium – the highest ranked side at the tournament – to set up the meeting with Portugal. However, they will be without influential midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who is suspended for Wednesday’s game. The Arsenal player has been hugely influential for Wales, scoring one goal and providing four assists, and was man of the match against the Belgians. Defender Ben Davies is also banned. Jonny Williams, Andy King or Dave Edwards could replace Ramsey.

 

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Captained by Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured above), one of football’s all-time greatest players, Portugal are preparing for their seventh major semi-final and fourth in the past five Euros.  They drew all three group games before beating Croatia 1-0 after extra time in the last 16 and then edging Poland 5-3 on penalties in the quarter-finals. In addition to the dramatic backdrop for the Welsh, there’s the additional attraction of the head-to-head battle between Real Madrid teammates Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Bale has three goals at Euro 2016 while Ronaldo has two. Bale became the world’s most expensive footballer when he joined Real from Tottenham for £85 million in 2013, surpassing the £80 million the Spanish club paid Manchester United for Ronaldo four years earlier.

Their relationship has been the subject of intense media scrutiny, with both insisting there is no rift. Portugal will monitor defender Pepe, who trained separately on Tuesday because of a thigh problem. William Carvalho is suspended so Danilo is expected to start as Portugal’s holding midfielder. Left-back Raphael Guerreiro and midfielder Andre Gomes missed the quarter-final against Poland with muscle problems, but both have returned to full training and should be available. Portugal have yet to win a game inside 90 minutes at Euro 2016 and have struggled to find attacking fluency. Portugal’s last six matches at European Championship finals have ended in draws after 90 minutes. The are unbeaten in their 12 competitive fixtures under Fernando Santos (W8, D4), with all eight of their wins coming by a single-goal.

 

 

Confirmed betting (card finalised)

Portugal v Wales DNB (1.5 units @ $2.60); correct score 1-1 (0.5 units @ $6.50) – this is such a tough game to call. With both missing key players, there’ll be a temptation to sit back but that style isn’t really the modus operandi of the Welsh. Our decisions are based purely on the value, with Portugal definitely unders at $2.20 on the moneyline.

 

Most recent result: 1-0, +1.1 units; overall finals record: 22-12, +24.37 units; qualifying record: 34-10-26, +13.40 units

France -1 v Iceland (one unit @ $2.10) WIN (5-2)

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Time (AET); prices with thanks to Bet365 (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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