Wales take on Belgium in this second Euro 2016 Quarter Final Tonight with a cautious optimism that their participation in the tournament won’t be ending by the end of the evening that said if they are to progress to the Semi Finals they are certainly going to have their work cut out
Marc Wilmot’s Belgium looked like they have finally clicked after that 4-0 demolition of Hungary on Sunday night. More importantly Eden Hazard looked back to the kind of form that in the 2014/15 season was putting him on a par with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
He had a hand in Belgium’s first two goals and then wrapped up the win after scoring the nights third. With such a poor season for Chelsea, it’s only now that we are seeing what we know he is capable of and it’s Belgium that are really reaping the benefits.
In terms of team news though it’s a tale of two defenders. Ashley Williams has been passed fit to play after picking up a knock against Northern Ireland while Jan Vertonghen isn’t quite so lucky he has a serious ankle injury which could see him out for 8 weeks. More importantly it means Belgium will have to play with a patched up back four tonight and one that has never played together.
As for Wales of course the focus will be on Gareth Bale, his three goals have him joint top of the scoring charts (at the time of writing) and he will no doubt be looking to add to that tally this evening as Chris Coleman’s side can perhaps just allow themselves of going all the way in this tournament
Bale wasn’t on the scoresheet on Saturday in the defeat of Northern Ireland but it was his cross that lead to Gareth McAuley to put through his own net in the second half. The second “Battle Of Britain” was cagey at times but Wales on balance deserved to win and book their place in the Quarters
With so many Belgians playing in the Premier League in a sense it won’t be too dissimilar to playing against England for Chris Coleman’s men. They will have gone up against players like Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku plenty of times so nothing will be alien to them in terms of preparations
Belgium after a shaky start have found their feet now, they put the Republic Of Ireland to the sword and demolish Hungary now they face a Wales side who not forgetting where in the same qualification group for this very tournament.
In those two games though Belgium failed to get the better of their opponents this Evening, losing away and only managing a stalemate at home. Can it be third time lucky for Marc Wilmots side on foreign soil. If it it will mean heartbreak for this Welsh team
After topping the group and then edging past fellow Brits Northern Ireland they will look to use that momentum and get the better of the Belgians. They have to make sure that Bale isn’t isolated again like he was against England so players such as Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey are going to be key in terms of supplying balls to the Real Madrid star
With so much talent at Belgium’s disposal you would have to make them favourites, they can hit you from all angles and that will certainly be the worry for Wales. They won’t want to rely too much on Bale but it might need a moment of brilliance to split these two sides
I think Wales will have their tails up but I think Belgium are looking like the kind of side that made them one of the pre tournament favourites and I think it will be they who move on to the Semi’s. The road ends here for Wales but what a road it has been.