Where will the biggest game in the history of Welsh football be won and lost?
Here, CaughtOffside picks out five key battles for tonight’s Euro 2016 semi-final between Wales and Portugal in Lyon. No prizes for guessing which Real Madrid teammates feature!
Ashley Williams v Jose Fonte
The Swansea City and Southampton captains in a major tournament semi-final, who’d have thought it? Williams was a significant threat from set pieces in the last-eight win over Belgian, scoring his side’s equaliser, and Fonte must use his own aerial prowess to try to combat that Welsh weapon.
Hal Robson-Kanu v Pepe
Robson-Kanu had a career-defining game against Belgium, scoring one of the goals of the tournament and stretching Belgian’s defence all over the place. Real Madrid star Pepe has tonnes of big-game experience and has been in great form. He won’t make it as easy for the former Reading forward.
Joe Allen v Renato Sanches
Both teams are more comfortable on the counter-attack, but this evening they may have to take turns dictating the play. Allen and Sanches will aim to do this in their own ways – the Portuguese teenager with his powerful ball carrying and the Liverpool midfielder with his passing. Allen has even more responsibility on his shoulders tonight due to the suspension of Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey.
Ricardo Quaresma v Wales substitutes
Quaresma has arguably been Portugal’s key player this tournament, and that is despite not starting a single match. He has had an impact on every substitute appearance, scoring the winner against Croatia and the crucial penalty versus Poland. Although Sam Vokes headed Wales into the semi-finals off the bench, they do not have many game-changers in reserve, and that is where this contest may be won.
Gareth Bale v Cristiano Ronaldo
The two star attractions. All of the rest of these battles make for an interesting undercard, but this is undoubtedly the main event. Bale, three goals so far at Euro 2016, inspiring a nation, and Ronaldo, two goals so far, seeking his first international trophy. Ultimately, it could come down to which of these Real Madrid superstars gets the better of one another, and we cannot wait to see who that will be!
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