Euro 2016: Semi Finals

 Euro 2016 previews and tips

EURO 2016 Semi Finals

Portugal managed to grab their first regulation time win of the tournament and they did so when it counted most. They now await the winner of France and Germany in the Final. With 5 European Championship title between them and enough talent to put out multiple starting XI sides lets hope that this one can deliver more than the first semi.

Semi Final Tips

Semi Final Full Match Previews

Germany v France (Fri 05:00am)

The two most dominant teams at Euro 2016 meet in the Semi Final stage in a mouth watering clash. In many people’s eyes it is effectively the tournament decider as the winner will go into the Final as an overwhelming favourite. The Wolf refuses to make such outlandish statements and says the past and present tell us otherwise. After all, Greece won the tournament back in 2004 and it was only last week that Iceland knocked out England.

There is very little between these two – both statistically and on paper. They are two of the most successful teams in the history of the European Championships. Germany are 3 time winners and have finished runners up on a further 3 occasions while France have won the tournament twice – including the last time they hosted the event in 1980.

Germany has a formidable record in the semi’s. They have progressed to the Final on 6 of 7 occasions, winning 5 of the matches despite failing to keep a clean sheet. They have also emerged victorious in each of the last 3 meetings against France at major tournaments. The biggest difference this time around is that it is a home game for Les Blues and the importance of such should not be underestimated. They won the Euro’s as the host nation in 1984 and who can forget the drubbing they gave Brazil in the 1998 World Cup Final – in this very stadium. The Stade de France has been a happy hunting ground for them to say the least.

The flood gates really opened up against Iceland and it should have come at no surprise. Les Blues have now scored multiple goals in 8 of their last 9 matches but that run looks set to come to an end. Germany have conceded just a single goal at Euro 2016 and it came in their last match – from the penalty spot! Germany are the most disciplined team in world football but the suspension of Mats Hummels will throw their defensive structures out of whack. We may see them shift to a flat back four with Kimmich and Hector out wide with Boateng and Howedes the centre half pairing. this would also provide more protection against Griezmann, Payet and Pogba.

There will be a long feeling out process in this one and we are unlikely to see a significant amount of goal mouth action in the first half. Both teams have consistently found a way to get the ball in the back of the net this tournament and this match will be no different. The biggest difference is that when a team takes the lead they will stop pushing numbers forward and the pressure will take it’s toll resulting in a late equaliser. This match screams draw, penalties and an emphatic victory for the hosts.
Best Bet: 1st Half Result – Draw ($1.75)
Value Bet: Draw ($2.90)
Winner Inc ET and Penalties: France ($1.90)

Correct Score: 1-1 ($6.50)
Method of Qualification: France In Penalty Shootout ($9.00)

Portugal v Wales (Thurs 05:00am)

You really couldn’t write a better script for this one. Cristiano Ronaldo goes in search of that elusive major tournament victory and it is his best chance since losing on home soil to Greece in the 2004 Final. Portugal are no strangers to this stage as it is their 7th major semi final and 4th in the last 5 Euro’s. On the flip-side a Gareth Bale powered Wales, in just it’s first appearance at the Euro’s is just 90 minutes away from a place in the Final.

The two nations have taken a very different path to get here. Wales powered their way to the top of their group and have have been clinical in attack with 10 goals. Bale has been the main catalyst but he has had plenty of help from Robson-Kanu and Ramsey, the latter of which will not be playing due to suspension. The wore down Ireland in the Round of 16 before playing scintillating football against Belgium to cause a boil-over.

Their counterparts in this one have taken a very different passage. Portugal are yet to post a win in regulation at Euro 2016 with a extra time win over Croatia before beating Poland on penalties in the quarters. They have hardly played an entertaining or convincing brand of football but must be given credit for their fight and perseverance. Each of their last 6 matches at the Euro’s have resulted in a draw after 90 minutes. In their four prior appearances in the semi’s they have won 1 and lost 3 – with all three defeats coming in either extra time or penalties.

The Wolf has been off Portugal the entire tournament and it has certainly proved rewarding. they have continually been under the odds and nothing has changed in this one. Ramsey is a big loss for Wales but one cannot deny the team spirit the Welsh have shown to date. The key in this match is the fact that Portugal will dominate possession. Without Ramsey Wales will be unable to win a line share of possession but that will not bother them. Portugal have struggle to create opportunities in matches that they have dominated with the matches against Iceland and Austria notable examples.

This will play perfectly into the hands of Wales who have been outstanding on the counter. They look to release the ball wide early and show no hesitation, whipping as many balls into the box as possible, doing so early before the defensive line can get set. Portugal have relied on William Carvalho to shut teams down on the counter and he would have been given the task of handling Gareth Bale. Like Ramsey, he is suspended, and will likely be replaced by Perreira.

Both sides will be looking to their respective stars to lead the way. If we are going off tournament form Bale definitely gets the nod over Ronaldo but we have seen the fear that the Portuguese  star puts on opposing defences. Portugal had one chance on the counter against Croatia and took it and in the match that followed Poland were reluctant to push significant numbers forward. wales have only ever attacked with 4 or 5 on the counter and will not be faced with the same fear. Williams and Chester have done a brilliant job at the back and Wales also pose a big threat from set pieces.

With Portugal so short in the market we will back Wales in the double chance market in a match that will open up when one of the teams finds the back of the net. There is a false perception that semi finals are always low scoring. Four of the last six semi’s at the Euro’s have produced at least 3 goals and it is a general trend that one of the two games is a very open encounter.

The absence of Davies and Carvalho with have an effect of both teams defensively. Look for Nani and Ronaldo to rotate and both spend time down the right channel in order to combine with Cedric while for Wales Bale is likely to take up a more central role in the absence of Ramsey. Wales have scored in all 5 matches and if Portugal are to beat them in regulation they will have to do so at least twice. Portugal have not shown enough to sway The Wolf and we will not fall into the trap of backing the better stars over the better team. The Wales fairy tale will continue.
Best Bet: Double Chance Draw or Wales ($1.61)
Value Bet: Both Teams To Score – YES ($2.25)
Winner – Inc ET and Penalties: Wales ($2.50)

Correct Score: Wales 2-1 ($15.00)