Wales-Portugal is the undercard to the Germany-France heavyweight showdown in the Euro 2016 semifinals, but less sexy matchups often offer more value to smart bettors.
Prognostication for knockout games often boils down to how much stock one puts in a team’s potential versus actual performance in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, in spite of winning only once in five fixtures, are the +115 betting favorite for Wednesday’s match in Lyon, France at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
First-time semifinalist Wales, led by Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale, is the longshot at +320, with the draw at +210.
Going into Thursday’s matchup in Marseille, France is the slight +180 favorite with a Germany win and a draw each paying out +200. Those odds reflect how the teams have flip-flopped at the top of the future boards, but neither has been utterly dominant. Germany, of course, is 7-0 in knockout games against host nations in major tournaments.
Wales and Portugal might each be down two starters. While Wales is down playmaking MF Aaron Ramsey and D Ben Davies due to yellow card accumulation, Portugal will not have MF William Carvalho (yellows) and D Pepe (thigh) is doubtful. Wales’ losses are probably more significant, but it has had a stronger, more cohesive effort over five games than Portugal.
France manager Didier Deschamps will have his full squad, but the concern regarding Les Bleus stems from having a fairly easy ride through the Republic of Ireland and Iceland in their first two knockout games. Tournament scoring leader Antoine Griezmann, along with Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet, should all be relatively fresh. Having three dangerous scorers also means France has several ways to go at Germany’s 3-5-2 setup.
Germany, primarily through MF Toni Kroos, has been the best passing team at Euro 2016 and usually controls possession. It also has some recent history on its side since it eliminated France in the quarterfinal of the 2014 World Cup before going on to win the title. Of late, Germany has been chronically unable to finish off scoring opportunities, and Thomas Muller has yet to score in the tournament.
Germany also has to reset mentally after a grueling quarterfinal against Italy that included a marathon penalty shootout. Defender Mats Hummels (accumulation), F Mario Gomez (hamstring) and MF Sami Khedra (adductor) will all be unavailable on Thursday.
Many fans and media like to cite past matchups as possible omens for a big game. While Germany bounced France two years ago, France has won both major international tournaments that it has hosted. That included the 1984 Euro, where their semifinal was also in Marseille.
Germany and France enter their semifinal matchup as the co-favorites to win the tournament