Wales (+450) vs Belgium (-135), Draw (+245)
Gareth Bale can steer his Welsh ship into uncharted territory when the Dragons (3-1-0) meet surging Belgium (3-1-0) in the quarterfinals of Euro 2016. The teams will meet at the Grand Stade Lille Métropole in Lille this Friday (July 1, 3:00 PM Eastern).
In reality, Wales are already in uncharted territory. Their Round of 16 win over Northern Ireland (1-0) put them in the quarters of the Euro for the first time ever. Bale was the team’s leader throughout qualification, scoring seve of their eleven goals, and he’s been just as good in the tournament; he scored in all three Group Stage games and was also responsible for the team’s lone tally against Northern Ireland. (His beautiful cross was touched in by a Northern Irish defender).
His solo act might not be enough against Belgium, though.
The Belgians started the tournament on a sour note, looking sluggish in a 2-0 loss to Italy. But it’s been a different story ever since. They routed Ireland 3-0 and edged Sweden 1-0 to finish second in their group. Then they crushed Hungary 4-0 in the Round of 16.
Yes, Hungary were a favorable draw. But Belgium still went out and did what they had to do. Their four-goal outburst gives them a tournament-leading eight for the competition.
Belgium have arguably the most talented roster of the remaining teams, but hadn’t gotten big performances from some key players until the Hungary game, in particular Eden Hazard. But the Chelsea man was far and away the best player on the pitch, scoring once and setting up another for Beglium.
“We scored goals, created chances and Thibaut Courtois got his clean sheet, so it was a good evening. Maybe it was not the best opponent, but they were still a tough side to play against. It will be hard to improve on the performance as it was almost perfect. We played well”, Hazard told the Standard UK after the game.
As long as Belgium play a similar game on Friday, they will be too much to handle for the top-heavy Wales. After Bale and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, there is a sharp decline in talent on the Welsh roster.
Pick: Belgium (-135).
(Photo Credit: Erik Drost (Flickr) CC BY 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)