Prior to the Euro 2016, many people betting on soccer probably thought that Gareth Bale was English rather than Welsh (I know I did) – and England’s fans probably wish he were the former. But Bale is not just a Welsh player, but the Welsh player, and the Belgian national squad knows that all too well. The last time these two teams met was during the qualifiers for the UEFA Euro 2016; on June 12th, 2015 Bale scored the lone goal which gave his side the victory over the Red Devils at Cardiff City Stadium (about seven months prior to that, the squads drew 0-0 in Brussels). Wales expected a similar result on Friday, July 1st at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in the quarterfinals of the Euro 2016.
Historically speaking, though, before this match Belgium had won five of the 12 games they have played against Wales – Wales has won four and there have been 3 draws, so all things considered it has always been pretty close when it comes to betting on soccer between these two. However, Les Diables Rouges have had more success in international competitions. They have qualified for five Euro Cups and finished third in their very one hosted edition in 1972 – of course, back then only four countries would play the final tournament – and second in 1980 – with a slightly more competitive number of 8 participating teams. Belgium was eliminated in the group stage in 1984 and 2000.
Just for the sake of completion, Die Roten Teufel have made 12 World Cup appearances. Their best result has been a 4th place finish in Mexico 1986. Conversely, Wales has only appeared in the Sweden 1958 World Cup, where they finished 6th of 16 teams. Even the Euro 2016 is The Dragons’ first UEFA European Championship final tournament appearance. Nonetheless, Bale and Co. seemed poise to not match – which they already have – but surpass their greatest international success. But to do that they had to overcome Belgium as well as the odds, as far as betting on soccer was concerned.
Belgium had came off a huge 4-0 win over Hungary in the round of 16, while Wales struggled to get past Northern Ireland – and even though the match winner was an own goal, Bale was as usual involved in the play. Welsh manager Chris Coleman admitted that “it was an ugly win, but who cares?” Coleman has also said that all the pressure will be on Belgium, even though Lille – where Stade Pierre-Mauroy is located – is just across the border between France and Belgium, meaning that Belgian fans more than likely outnumbered Welsh supporters. But on the pitch it was still be 11 on 11, and on that cliché we might as well wrap things up.