Wales brush family dilemmas aside for Belgium date in Euro quarters

Neil Taylor and Chris Gunter will happily put family dilemmas aside when they represent Wales on Friday in a Euro 2016 quarter-final against favoured Belgium.

Taylor revealed he bought tickets for Thursday's Beyonce concert in Cardiff months ago as a birthday present for his wife.

Fellow defender Gunter could meanwhile miss his brother's wedding on July 7 in Cancun, Mexico, if they win and reach the semi-finals in which they would play on July 6.

But the pair will gladly give up those obligations as Wales are living the dream by still being in the tournament.

"We don't care, we are delighted to be in the quarter-finals of the cup here," Taylor said. "The whole of Wales is on a little bit of a standstill waiting for each game to come round."

Led by stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Wales advanced with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Northern Ireland and they now run into the Belgium of Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, who clobbered Hungary 4-0 in the last 16.

Tens of thousands of Belgium fans are expected to invade the northern French city of Lille, which is just 20 kilometres from the Belgian border, and the place where Hazard started his career at the local LOSC club, winning the French league in 2011.

Hazard stood out in the big win over Hungary, scoring the third goal and setting up two others.

Hazard missed Tuesday training with a thigh muscle problem but coach Marc Wilmots is upbeat he can return to team training Thursday and play the next day, while defender Thomas Vermaelen is suspended.

Chelsea playmaker Hazard hopes that Belgium's golden generation can progress further and possibly emulate the class of 1980, which reached the final.

"We have got to the quarters, we are delighted. We will try to carry on in the same vein," Hazard said. "Wales we know very well. We played them in the qualifiers, they are a very tough team to face. But we will prepare well and try to go and win in Lille.

"For the time being we have achieved nothing. We are just in the quarters and we will take it one game at a time."

Belgium were held 0-0 at home and lost 1-0 in Wales after a Bale strike in the qualifiers but still won the group.

They are rated favourites, which suits Wales just fine as they expect to have more space than against a defensive Northern Ireland team where Bale and company were taken out of the match.

Wales have matched their best ever showing on the big stage, as the country also reached the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup.

Coach Chris Coleman expects captain Ashley Williams to play after suffering a shoulder injury in the last game, and the defender will be needed against the high-powered Belgium attack.

Coleman labelled Belgium favourites because their players have more experience in big games but remains confident his side can do well again, now as the last British representative in France.

"They are a good team but there’s nothing for us to fear," Coleman said.

Last update: Wed, 29/06/2016 - 11:14

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