Will Ronaldo deliver for Portugal on the big stage or will Gareth Bale’s Wales upstage him?

And in the second semi-final, Germany meet a French side cock-a-hoop after rediscovering their scoring touch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 July, 2016, 10:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 July, 2016, 10:02am

The European Championship semi-finals promise mouth-watering match-ups as the last four teams battle for a berth in the July 10 final and a chance to succeed two-time winners Spain.

In Lyon on Wednesday, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal take on a Welsh team featuring his Real Madrid teammate, Gareth Bale.

A day later in Marseille, world champions Germany, fresh from a nerve-rattling penalty shoot-out win against Italy, look to add the European title against hosts France who are coming off a morale-boosting 5-2 win against Iceland.

Here are a few snapshots of the final four:

PORTUGAL

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal are a regular feature in the latter stages of the European Championship, having reached the semi-finals at four of the past five tournaments. But the team have never triumphed overall, their best coming back in 2004 when as hosts they lost the final to Greece.

Ronaldo, who played in that match, will become the first player to appear in three European Championship semi-finals.

His form at Euro 2016 has been inconsistent to say the least and he will likely have to improve if Portugal are going to win their first major competition.

Ronaldo has only truly shone in only one match, with a memorable pair of goals in the 3-3 draw with Hungary.

In his team’s penalty shoot-out win over Poland in the quarter-finals, Ronaldo was so out of touch that he swung and missed at two clear chances in front of goal. But he has the flair and talent to produce a touch of match-winning magic at any time and the semi-final might be the stage he has been waiting for.

Portugal defensive midfielder William Carvalho is suspended after picking up two yellow cards.

WALES

Alongside Iceland, Wales has been the surprise package of Euro 2016, reaching their first major semi-final.

Unlike Iceland, Chris Coleman’s team boasts an undisputed superstar in the form of the world’s most expensive player, Bale.

Though Bale’s three goals helped his team through the group stages, the team are anything but a one-man show. That depth could give Wales an edge against a rock-solid Portugal defence featuring another Madrid star, Pepe.

The Welsh will be missing a key midfielder in Aaron Ramsey after the Arsenal star drew his second yellow card of the tournament in the 3-1 quarter-final defeat of Belgium.

GERMANY

Germany are looking to add a fourth European title, and their first in 20 years, to their world crown.

But first they will have to get past a France side that found their scoring touch in Marseille on Thursday. They will also have to overcome injuries and a suspension to reach the tournament decider next Sunday at the Stade de France.

Joachim Loew’s team have been rock-solid in defence, conceding just one goal – Leonardo Bonucci’s 78th-minute equaliser from the penalty spot for Italy in the quarter-final.

But Germany will be weakened against France; Mats Hummels is out through suspension and Mario Gomez has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament. Midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger are also injury worries.

One new concern may centre on Germany’s penalty taking, one of its historic strengths. Though they beat Italy on penalties in the quarter-finals, German players failed to convert three from the spot, more than they had ever done before in the history of penalty shoot-outs.

FRANCE

In Antoine Griezmann, France have Euro 2016’s top scorer. Dimitri Payet is not far behind.

Griezmann lifted his tournament tally to four as France ruthlessly dismantled Iceland at the Stade de France on Sunday night; Payet netted his third goal of the tournament with another clinical finish.

Suddenly, the host’s confidence has shot up before they face a German team whose ranks have been depleted in attack and defence.

France still appears vulnerable in defence, conceding twice against Iceland, although they came at a time when the result wasn’t in any doubt and French players may understandably have been focusing on the upcoming semi-final in Marseille.

France have no suspensions or injury worries and, seeking their third European title, will also get a boost from the fanatical fans at the Stade Velodrome, where Didier Deschamps starred as a player and coach.