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EURO 2016: CAN WALES SHAKE BELGIUM?

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The first match in the Euros to be played in July features Wales and Belgium. Wales has been one of the surprise packages of the tournament, could they have what it takes to shake the mighty Belgium?

20:00 WALES - BELGIUM

First timers at the European Championship finals, Wales have already exceeded expectations. Everybody knew beforehand how dangerous any team with Gareth Bale can be, but nobody could have expected this. In the round of 16 they defeated another surprise name in the knockout stages, Northern Ireland 1-0. However, that performance was probably Wales' worst in the tournament, as they only managed a single shot on target. Even their goal came from the boot of Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley following a dangerous cross from Bale.

When at their best, Wales have played some refreshing football, but there's no denying they've had a relatively easy route to the quarter-finals. They've only had to face one of the "elite" teams in Europe, and they lost that to England 2-1 after an average performance. Wales were under the cosh for most of that game and failed to create much on the ball. They relied a lot on Bale in that match, and he'll be a marked man against Belgium too. However, they need more than just one Bale if they are to have any chance of progression. 

Belgium have started to find form at Euro 2016, especially in attack, and they've started to finally fulfill the potential their squad has. Although their last three opponents haven't been of the highest level, a goal difference of 8-0 is hard to argue with. The best thing for Belgium is that they have had dangerous players all over the pitch, and all their goals in the 4-0 drubbing of Hungary came from players who were yet to find the back of the net in France this summer. With so much quality all the way to the bench Wales could be in for a tough game, even if their defence won't give the Belgians as much space as the Hungarians did.

Sadly for Belgium, they have a slight defensive crisis going into the match, as both Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen are out. Vermaelen is suspended, while Vertonghen twisted two ligaments in his ankle in training. A scan in Lille revealed that his tournament is over. Jason Denayer and Jordan Lukaku (brother of Everton striker Romelu) are expected to take their place. Vertonghen will also miss out on the start of the Premier League season with Tottenham.

Wales like to defend with discipline and strike fast on the counter with Bale at the fore. This is why the match against Northern Ireland was so difficult for the Welsh, as they weren't used to being the team in control of possession. Wales manager Chris Coleman said that the match against the Irish was so troublesome due to them being the favourites, as they prefer the role of underdogs. Now all the pressure is on Belgium, and Wales can continue to use their regular game plan. All eyes will be on Bale, who has the potential to win games by himself. However, this Belgium team is looking stronger every day, and this will be the toughest test for Wales yet.

It's also worthwhile to note that Belgium didn't manage to beat the Welsh in the qualifying campaign for the Euros. The first game finished goalless, while Wales won their home fixture 1-0, and who else but Bale proved the difference then.

Special Bets:

To score: Bale 57/20 Unibet

To score directly from a free kick: Bale 11/1 Unibet

* To commit more fouls: Wales 9/10 Unibet

Wales at Euro 2016:

25.6. Wales - Northern Ireland 1-0

20.6. Russia - Wales 0-3

16.6. England - Wales 2-1

11.6. Wales - Slovakia 2-1

Belgium at Euro 2016:

26.6. Hungary - Belgium 0-4

22.6. Sweden - Belgium 0-1

18.6. Belgium - Ireland 3-0

13.6. Belgium - Italy 0-2

BETTING TIPS:

Wales prefer the role of underdogs, as they are so dangerous on the counter-attack. Belgium's defence hasn't been convincing, despite keeping three clean sheets in a row. If Wales manage to grab an early lead, Belgium could be in for a long night. This could make the Belgians slightly wary, which may mean a low-scoring match. However, both sides have excellent individuals who can change the course of the match in the blink of an eye.

Belgium are obviously the favourites to progress. Despite this, Wales are on fire and Bale has been in unstoppable form. One free kick could be enough to change the outcome. The bookies' underdogs Wales are definitely the more interesting betting idea, and unders are also an option.

** Wales +1: 117/100 Unibet / Leo Vegas

* Under 2.5 goals: 3/5 Betsafe / Betsson

 

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