Later today at 3:00, Portugal and Wales will meet up in the semifinals of the UEFA European Championship. Portugal is looking to finally break through in a major tournament as the focal point of their team and world renowned forward Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t getting any younger, now 31 years of age. Wales is looking to continue their cinderella run after qualifying for their first ever European Championship and recently upsetting the #2 world national team and #1 European national team, Belgium.
This Euro Cup semifinal will have many storylines but perhaps the biggest will be the faceoff of superstars Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Gareth Bale of Wales. Bale and Ronaldo are teammates at the La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid and according to The Big Lead are the ninth (Bale) and third (Ronaldo) best players in the entire world. Throughout Ronaldo’s national career, the number one knock on him is that he can’t bring his home nation to the promised land and if Wales were to once again stage an upset, Ronaldo and Portugal would yet again come so far only to finish just out of striking distance for a championship. Bale on the other hand has already shattered the aspirations for the Wales National Team just by simply qualifying for the Euro Cup.
Wales has an uphill climb ahead of them, being ranked the #26 national team in the world going up against the #8 team, Portugal. To make matters worse for Wales, their second best player, Manchester United’s Aaron Ramsey has been suspended for the semifinal game due to accruing too many yellow cards throughout the tourney. Therefore, this Wales and Portugal game is shaping up to be a David versus Goliath type of matchup but if you remember how that ends you definitely can’t count out Wales just yet.
In order for Wales to best Portugal, the Welsh defense will need to rattle and/or get under the skin Cristiano Ronaldo which as history shows us can either be really easy or insanely difficult.
On top of containing Ronaldo, Bale will not only need to outplay his Portuguese counterpart but play his best soccer (err football?) of the European Championship to date. I for one am pulling for Wales because who doesn’t like an underdog and Gareth Bale is my favorite player in the sport (mostly thanks to FIFA but whatever works).
I am predicting a 2-1 Wales victory in extra time. I expect Portugal to score early off the foot of Cristiano but as Wales has done so well throughout the Championship, they’ll adapt and score a late free kick goal from Gareth himself. Finally in extra time Wales will knock in a header from a corner kick to seal the upset and propel their cinderella story into a European Cup Championship Game.
Cover Photo via Proven Quality
GIFs via MakeAGIF and Bleacher Report