Having come through their qualifying Group, thanks largely to fine home and away performances against Belgium, Wales arrive at the quarter-finals as the lone remaining United Kingdom at this tournament. In their Group games, they were solid and patient against Slovakia, ran England close and then took apart a poor Russian side. In the Round of Sixteen they were made to work hard by Northern Ireland, but once again prevailed thanks to a touch of genius from Gareth Bale.
There was nothing particularly impressive about the way Belgium stumbled through their qualifying Group and the knives were out for Marc Wilmot after his side was undone by the Italians in their opening Group game. But their performances have improved since, and in brushing aside the Republic of Ireland and Hungary, the Belgians team began to look something like the sum of its parts.
Wales vs. Belgium – H2H Stats
The Wales vs. Belgium rivalry dates back to 1949 when Belgium beat a visiting Wales team 3-1 in front of 20,000 spectators in Liege.
Since then, Belgium has edged the fixture, winning five of their twelve meetings, with Wales tasting victory four times.
The two current squads and managers know each other very well as they played in the same Euro 2016 Qualifying Group. Wales fought out a creditable 0-0 draw in their first game in Brussels and won the return match in Cardiff 1-0 thanks to a goal from Gareth Bale, a result that played a big part in their qualifying for the competition.
Under Chris Coleman, Wales have been tactically adaptable, and they showed in the game with Russia that they can adopt proactive aggressive tactics. But against Belgium, we are likely to see them adopt their normal game-plan. They will sit deep, with their three central defenders protected by three energetic midfielders and their two wing backs providing the width, while Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are allowed to roam free behind a lone striker.
Wilmot has varied his team selection throughout the tournament so far, but their tactics and formation have remained the same. Their full-backs tend to stay in their own half but their aggressive 4-3-3 formation gives them plenty of width and attacking options and although they can be lacklustre when it comes to pressing and closing down, as they showed against Italy, that is unlikely to be a problem against a Wales team that is likely to give them the ball back on a regular basis.
Wales vs. Belgium Odds & Betting Markets
After their demolition of Hungary, the Belgians appear to be flying, and they are strong favourites in the winners market to reach the semi-finals, but they will find Wales much tougher opponents and can’t be relied on to win at a short price.
Chris Coleman has already shown that he can out-think the tactically mediocre Belgian coach and it is unlikely that Wilmots has any particular surprises in store for this game, all of which means Wales have a great chance of holding them.
The Welsh players are well-drilled, and as long as they don’t overdo their defensive tactics as they did at times against England, they can contain the Belgians for long periods of time. We have also seen that the Belgian defence is vulnerable and Gareth Bale, who is unlikely to be man-marked, can cause havoc in front of the Belgian goal.
Back Wales to earn a normal time draw at 13/5 with Bet365.
Odds for First Goalscorer
Belgium is likely to have most of the play and most of the shots on goal, so it might seem sensible to opt for a Belgian to score first. The problem is that there are likely to be at least three goal-scoring candidates in the Belgium line-up, whatever selection Wilmot makes, so backing any one of them doesn’t provide much value.
Instead, it could pay to look at their opponents. Despite often playing on the counter, Wales have scored first in all four of their Euro 2016 games to date, and in contrast to Belgium, picking the likeliest Welsh goal-scorer is an easy job.
Back Gareth Bale to score first at 13/2 with BetBright.
Odds for Total Goals
During their qualifying campaign, Wales kept impressive seven clean sheets, and they have been just as solid in this tournament so far, conceding only three goals in four games. Belgium have some talented forwards, but they couldn’t manage to find the net once in 180 minutes of football in their qualifying games, and the Welsh defence is likely to be just as solid in this game.
Back Under 2.5 goals at 3/5 with 888Sport.