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Euro 2016: Portugal vs Wales - 5 players to watch out for

Looking at 5 players who will influence tonight's semi-final between Wales and Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead his team to another Euro final?

With Euro 2016 reaching its climax, Wednesday evening will see the world’s 2 most expensive players go face to face in a mouth-watering semi-final. The titanic encounter will take place at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon. This match has been billed as the battle between the two most influential Galacticos of Real Madrid today. The global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, versus the world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale, promises to be an explosive affair that will keep onlookers on tenterhooks.

The path to the semi-finals has been starkly different for Wales and Portugal. Wales have been the trailblazing pace-setters of Euro 2016, putting in remarkable displays en route to the semis. An unlucky group stage defeat to England is the only blip on the radar, in an otherwise fantastic campaign. Their impressive comeback victory against Belgium in the quarter-finals got the team earning rave reviews and consideration as serious challengers for the title.

Portugal have been average at best, and yet luck seems to be their courtesan for Euro 2016. Despite not winning a single game in 90 minutes, and winning only one out of two in 120 minutes, Portugal have somehow managed to make it through to the semi-finals.

They have only provided moments of inspiration in otherwise insipid displays and have rarely looked like title contenders. However, having made it this far, expect the Portuguese to put up a strong fight to have a shot at the title on Sunday. Let’s take a look at 5 players who will influence tomorrow’s game.

1) Cristiano Ronaldo

The footballing world’s most marketable face, Cristiano Ronaldo is the biggest superstar playing in Euro 2016. The Portuguese superstar, much like his counterpart Lionel Messi, has won everything at club level but is yet to reciprocate the success at club level on the international stage. Ronaldo is not getting younger and knows Euro 2016 might be a godsend opportunity to make his mark.

Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 thus far has been a bit of a hit and miss. Tepid displays against Iceland and Austria, including a crucial penalty miss against the latter were followed by a brilliant individual performance against Hungary. Ronaldo scored two and assisted one in that match to haul Portugal on level terms having fallen behind thrice.

However, he seems to have lost that bit of magic in the knockout stages again. Against both Poland and Croatia, Ronaldo was hardly noticeable on the pitch and did nothing to justify his claim to being one of the world’s best. Come Wednesday, Portuguese fans will be anxiously hoping Ronaldo re-discovers his flair and gives them a reason to celebrate.

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