Portugal v Wales
Wednesday 6 July, 20:00 BST, Lyon. ITV
It’s almost certain that many will look at this as a game purely between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, but nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, the two stars are far and away the best players on their respective sides, and they could well play a key role in their team’s performance, but expect this to hinge much more on the 20+ other players than some would try to convince you. On the Wales side, this could be a tough match – key players in Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies are suspended after picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament in Friday’s victory over Belgium. Jazz Richards or James Collins could step in at the back, while Andy King could do a reasonable job in Ramsey’s role, although Johnny Williams may take the spot instead. Wales have done well to date, having won four out of their five matches and after a good performance against a highly-favoured Belgium side in hostile northern French territory they’ll be riding on a high. Portugal, meanwhile, have stumbled their way to this stage in the tournament. They are yet to win a single game in 90 minutes, or lose one for that matter. William Carvalho will be suspended for the favourites, who reached this stage after a victory on penalties against Poland, and Pepe isn’t certain to start the match thanks to hamstring problems. Portugal’s frustrations to date bring up questions of the longevity of this run, yet they are a side that ought not to be underestimated: just because they haven’t managed to win in no way implies that they’ll be easy to beat, after all, any team that makes the semi finals of a European Championship is certainly not a pushover. This could be a thrilling encounter if Portugal finally turn up to the tournament, although whether they will really is the question. Despite how they’ve played so far they will be the favourites, yet Wales have revelled in their role as the underdog throughout this tournament.
Owain’s Prediction: Portugal 0-1 Wales (AET)
Germany v France
Thursday 7 July, 20:00 BST, Marseilles. BBC1
If this tournament has thrown up some rather surprising results, this match certainly is one to be expected, as World Champions Germany face the host nation France in a clash between two of Europe’s biggest footballing powerhouses. Germany come into this match off of a drab encounter with Italy that saw them miss their first penalties in a shootout for decades. France, meanwhile, come off of a 5-2 demolition of minnows Iceland. France will be riding high on confidence after that game, but they’ve yet to really prove anything in this tournament – that was their only game that the side have really looked convincing. So far, France haven’t faced any of Europe’s toughest teams, yet besides the Iceland game they have only won one match by more than a solitary goal – that being their 2-0 match against Albania, in which they first scored in the 90th minute. Still, France have some superb players, with Antoine Griezmann and Dmitri Payet among them. Germany, too, have a very good side, although Thomas Müller has continued his failure to score in a European Championship. Injury worries will affect Germany as well, with Mario Gomez out for the tournament, and serious question marks over the availability of Sami Khedira, who went off early in their match against Italy, and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Given how poorly their penalties were taken against Italy, it does raise a serious question of how this will have affected their confidence should a game come down to spot kicks again. Given how tight this match might be, it may well come down to kicks from the penalty mark again, and then we’ll have our answer.
Owain’s Prediction: France 1-1 Germany (France win on penalties)