Boring Portugal progress (what’s new?), Wales upset Belgium, Germany come through on penalties (what’s new?) and the hosts lighten up the Stade de France. There are only three games left at Euro 2016 – who’s going to win it?
1. Germany (2.9 to win Euro 2016)
If you’ve backed Germany any point whilst I’ve been tipping them to win Euro 2016 – you’re either on course to win a lot of money, or in a position to make a very profitable trade right now. The quarter-finals were cruel to the world champions – Mats Hummels picked up a suspension, two first-teamers have been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament and Bastian Schweinsteiger is a doubt to face France. If all four were available for the semi-final I would have no doubt in Germany progressing. Now a tiny bit of doubt has crept in because Hummels and Sami Khedira are vital players in defence – the latter came off injured early versus Italy and look at the space between the defence and midfield that was left.
Joshua Kimmich could move into that role otherwise Joachim Löw otherwise Emre Can or Julian Weigl could make their first appearance here in France. Another concern to the head coach is that Mario Gómez is out. The 30-year-old had been playing well up front before his injury. Now Germany may go back to using Mario Götze there which so far hasn’t been successful at all. Still, the French defence isn’t very strong.
2. France (2.94 to win Euro 2016)
With the two favourites being nearly 2/1 you’ve got nearly a 50% arb by backing both at the same price because if Germany stumble then France will be Euro 2016 champions. Antoine Griezmann moved his tally to four goals in this tournament versus Iceland but wasn’t actually too threatening himself. Germany may be more concerned with Olivier Giroud scoring two goals because Jérôme Boateng isn’t the best at defending crosses.
Italy cause Germany a lot of problems down the left wing so this game is set up nicely for Dimitri Payet to be a match winner again. Paul Pogba will be looking to take advantage of Sami Khedira’s absence by driving into space that Toni Kroos certainly allows. Should Emre Can start it will be heaven for the Juventus midfielder who opened his account in this tournament in the last round.
3. Wales (2.64 to reach final)
I was wrong to think Belgium’s star players would be too good for Wales and should have reminded myself of calling Marc Wilmots ‘Sven Jr’ at the start of the tournament. Wales came through in flying colours in their first test at Euro 2016 and many fancy Chris Coleman’s side to go on and beat Portugal now.
Defensively they have been solid but losing Ben Davies in defence through suspension is certainly a blow, especially when the rumours are Chris Gunter may fill in. Box-to-box Aaron Ramsey is also a blow defensively and in attack. He Arsenal midfielder has set up four of Wales’ goals at Euro 2016 and even scored one. Now they need someone to come in to keep Renato Sanches quiet after his man of the match performance versus Poland.
The earliest Portugal have won a game at Euro 2016 is the 117th minute – that was their surprise second round victory over Croatia. Fernando Santos’ side have been a bore to watch and we’ve only seen Cristiano Ronaldo turn up versus Hungary. Don’t be surprised if Chris Coleman’s tactical play keeps the Real Madrid superstar quiet in their semi-final.
Portugal’s defence has come good since José Fonte replaced Ricardo Carvalho, conceding just once in their 240 minutes of knockout football. It’s a good job they’re well rested for this one having played their group stage matches later than Wales and had extra-time in their last two matches.