We’ve reached the semifinals of the Euros, and only four teams remain. Portugal will battle Wales on Wednesday, while hosts France match up against 2014 World Cup winners Germany on Thursday. Here is what each team needs to do in order to make it to the finals.
Portugal have only won one game in the Euros, yet they are set to play Wales in the Euro semifinals on Wednesday, something that doesn’t really work in sports but happened anyway. They did beat Poland after penalties, but that game technically stands as a draw; as of yet, the only win they have was stolen during the final moments when Quaresma stunned Croatia with a single touch of the ball during their final group stage match.
Portugal haven’t played winning football all tournament, playing defensively and leaving a talented midfield largely unused. Renato Sanches logged his first international goal against Poland, but Portugal have sat back and held the ball, rather than using Cristiano Ronaldo and other offensive tools effectively. So far, Portugal’s style of play has worked, but that’s only because they haven’t had a difficult matchup that can thoroughly challenge them. If CR7 wants to add to his legacy, he needs to assert himself and find his shooting boots before it’s too late. He faces his Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale on Wednesday, and we all know the kind of form he is in.
For Portugal to make it to the finals, they need to assert themselves early and keep the ball in Wales’ half. If they sit back and wait, they could get caught off guard, as the Welsh have been prone to do in the Euros so far.
Wales are happy to be in the semifinals, but don’t expect them to play like underdogs who respect the position they are in; in this year’s Euros, Wales are the bad boys, the group that simply don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. Iceland were just like that, only they couldn’t believe it themselves – Wales aren’t going to take this upcoming match lightly, and that’s why they are still around. The Welsh have been playing swift counter-attacking football, moving the ball up the pitch fearlessly, regardless if they’re playing Belgium or Russia. England should have drawn against the Welsh, but Daniel Sturridge saw to that.
Wales will have to play without Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies, but as long as you have Gareth Bale up front ready to create goals, then you don’t have much reason to panic.
Wales have shown that it’s best to attack the big teams with full force, and if they plan on playing one more match this summer, they’d best run at Portugal with all they’ve got.
When the French host tournaments, they win. They’ve hit a bit of a rough patch internatonally in the last decade and a half, but that’s stopped with an absolutely stacked 2016 squad.
Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann have stepped up in a major way, scoring 3 and 4 goals each, respectively, and their outbursts have stiffled the hope of every country they’ve faced so far. Romania thought they’d secured a point against France in the tournament’s opening match, but that was until Payet struck a brilliant goal into the upper left corner with just a couple minutes remaining. French culture is known for its flair, and this current generation of French footballers sure aren’t lacking in the flair department either.
It’s a young French generation that’s starting to take over world football (see link above) whether it’s for club or country, and their confidence and skill are at a level that’s outshined that of a disappointing Belgium squad, another young team many thought could win the tournament. Attacking, creative play spurred on by a ridiculously loaded midfield and consistent play from Olivier Giroud have propelled France into the semis, but they will need to play at an even more elite level now that they’re slated to play Germany.
One of the few favorites to win the Euros that are still around to do it, Germany have a huge game set before them, as they go up against France who hasn’t lost and only drew once. The Germans have the same record this summer, but it’s anyone’s guess who will move on to the final. Germany are set at every position and have one of the best goalkeepers of all time in Manuel Neuer; he’s going to need to be at his best if he is to keep the ball out of the back of the net on Thursday.
Considering their back line, the Germans have no equal but no defense can stop an offense that is on fire and scoring at will; this semifinal match may be more dramatic and thrilling than the upcoming final. If Germany plan on making it to the final match, they need to play out of their minds.