Bale can also be a hazard to Belgium

PLAYMAKERS: Belgium's Hazard (left) and Wales' Bale. Hazard and his team may be the favourites but Wales have previously given them a tough time and Bale's ability to seize the moment could be game-changing.


    Jul 01, 2016

    Bale can also be a hazard to Belgium


    WALES are happy to cast themselves as the underdogs in their Euro 2016 quarter-final against Belgium tonight. But such modesty belies their proven ability to bite hard.

    The Belgians, who finally came together as a team to demolish Hungary 4-0 in their last-16 match, will start as favourites.

    Both sides, though, are fully aware that Wales have proved their mettle against Belgium, beating them 1-0 in Cardiff and drawing in Brussels in the tournament's qualifying stage.

    Belgium, playing before what will be virtually a home crowd in the northern French town of Lille, are under huge pressure for their much-vaunted golden generation to fulfil their promise and finally challenge for a major trophy.

    Wales could also claim to have developed a golden generation, spearheaded by Gareth Bale, even if they have fewer illustrious players than the side ranked No. 2 in the world.

    All eyes will be on the form of Bale and Eden Hazard.

    Bale, the world's most expensive player, has scored three goals and fired in the cross that led to Northern Ireland's own goal in Wales' 1-0 last-16 victory.

    His ability to seize the moment, not least at free kicks, could be pivotal.

    Hazard came to life against Hungary - as did the whole team after a stuttering start to the campaign. He set up the second goal for Michy Batshuayi and scored with a dashing solo effort two minutes later to crush Hungary's hopes in what he said was his best-ever game for his country.

    "Wales are a very strong side, and not just with Gareth Bale; they have other good players," cautioned Belgian coach Marc Wilmots.

    Belgium, however, have greater depth. Wilmots has pointed to playmaker Kevin de Bruyne, who has been a tireless and influential figure.

    Romelu Lukaku scored 27 goals in 52 appearances for Everton this season and always looks threatening.

    The winners will reckon to have a fair chance of reaching the final as the semi-finals would pit them against Poland or Portugal, avoiding the powers of France, Italy and Germany.


    Tomorrow, 3am

    Wales v Belgium