The 2016 European Championship is nearing its end. After three weeks of competition we have seen it all. There have been upsets of epic proportions, spectacular goals and heartbreak. In a few days’ time we will have a winner, and one of the four remaining countries will lift the Henri Delaunay trophy. The road to the final will not be an easy one for the two teams that prevail in their semi-finals, but it is bound to be thrilling.
Wales vs. Portugal
Let me start by saying that Portugal do not deserve to be in this position. They have made their way into the semi-finals without winning a single game in 90 minutes. Portugal have drawn four out of their five games, winning their round of 16 game in extra time and beating Poland in the quarters on penalties. That being said, the Portuguese have managed to put themselves into a Euro semi-final for a second consecutive time. Portugal have a decent squad and superstar captain Cristiano Ronaldo. They will also look to outstanding youngster Renato Sanches who equalized for them against Poland. If Portugal can play with more attacking finesse than previously, they still stand a chance. More likely however, they will play for a draw again, which will do them no favours against the unwavering Welsh.
Wales are living a dream right now. But unlike other fantasies, they have the ability to make this dream a reality. Since the beginning, the Welsh have taken one game at a time, never allowing themselves to think too far into the future. This pin-point focus will play in their favour, as Portugal will feel pressure to deliver after their shout-out exit to Spain in the 2012 semi-final. The Welsh will be a little bit worse for wear without midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who will miss this match due to too many yellow cards. Although Wales have superstars on their team – namely Gareth Bale – they do not rely on them to win the game. The Welsh are the hardest working team in the tournament. They work for each other, and it is that work ethic that will help them make history by making it to the final in their first appearance at this tournament.
Final score: Wales 2 Portugal 0
France vs. Germany
France have been a tournament favourite since day one. As the host nation, they have responded to the pressure with gumption. France have proven that they have fire power up front. However, they are unstable and weak in defence. The lack of organization at the back will be their Achilles heel. The French will do their best to rise to the occasion in this match, looking to make it to another Euro cup final. The last time France hosted the prestigious tournament, they won it. I have no doubt that France will put out a fantastic performance in this match.
Germany are the team to beat in this tournament. The reigning World Cup champions have been nothing short of perfect so far. Despite a bad handball from Boateng against Italy, Germany have been excellent at the back. Up front, they have power and finesse. Özil has shown composure for the Germans when it matters most and will be key in their attempt to make it to the final.
This game will be played with high intensity and passion. France and Germany will both press hard up front, which could leave them vulnerable at the back. Germany are more organized at the back, but France have a more successful goal-scoring ability. This game will be decided down to the wire, and Germany will prevail in extra time.
Final score: Germany 3 France 2
photo sourced via www.independent.co.uk