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Euro 2016 semi-final fixtures, previews and tips – 6/7 July

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, right, celebrates with teammate Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring a goal against Celta during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Saturday, March 5, 2016. Ronaldo scored four goals and Bale one in Real Madrid's 7-1 victory. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The European Championship reaches the semi-final stage, with Wales meeting Portugal and France hosting Germany

At the start of Euro 2016, the market had France meeting Germany for a place in the final and that will happen on Thursday night when the two sides clash in Marseille.

The French have won four and drawn one of their five games to date, with the most emphatic victory coming on Sunday night where Les Bleus ran in five goals against an Iceland side who couldn’t cope with the onslaught.

France are the highest scorers in this tournament, mainly because Didier Deschamps’ side thrashed the Icelanders, although there’s no stopping Antoine Griezmann, Dimitri Payet and Olivier Giroud.

The trio have all scored different types of goals. Giroud has found the net with his head on a couple of occasions, rising highest from a cross although the Arsenal man isn’t all about aerial battles.

Payet is a free-kick specialist and can also hit a mean long-range shot, while he often cuts in from the left to fire in a shot. Griezmann isn’t dissimilar although he has the pace to burst through from the hole and the Atletico Madrid man has four goals.

Germany don’t have the same attacking force, although they have a better pedigree, even if Mats Hummels and Mario Gomez are missing in action.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira could also miss the match with injury and that’s a big headache for Joachim Low.

Even so, it could be a titanic tussle between the two teams, one of whom is going to be major favourite in the final.

Wales are the surprise package in the final four of Euro 2016, although they shouldn’t be regarded as minnows, having dumped out Belgium at the last eight stage on merit.

Aaron Ramsey is a big miss for the Welsh, although Gareth Bale remains a talisman for a team who have the most unbelievable spirit and have shown they can cope with going a goal behind against a quality team.

Portugal have drawn all five of their games to date and perhaps that is the way this match will go, with the potential of extra-time and penalties looming large considering that the Portuguese have managed two goals in normal time with the exception of that 3-3 against Hungary.

Two intriguing matches on the table. But who goes through?

Euro 2016 semi-final fixtures and previews

Wednesday 6 July
Wales v Portugal, 8pm

Thursday 7 July
Germany v France, 8pm

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