Belfast Telegraph

Wales v Belgium: Chris Coleman promises Belgians 'a hell of a game'

Wales manager Chris Coleman has promised Belgium "a hell of a game" in their Euro 2016 quarter-final.

Belgium, ranked second in the world, start as favourites with their stellar squad and Friday night's game is being played in Lille, just a few miles from the Belgian border.

But while Red Devils fans will heavily outnumber their Welsh counterparts in the French city, Wales have the knowledge that they are unbeaten in the last three meetings between the two countries and they won the last game 1-0 in Cardiff just over a year ago.

"Belgium won't change, and if you're as good as Belgium, then why would you?" said Coleman.

"They're deemed as an offensive team but if you look at the facts they've scored eight - five from counter-attacks, two from set-plays and one from open play.

"We're deemed a defensive team and we've scored seven.

"They'll play the way they play with imagination, pace and power, but we'll play the way we play.

"When it is time to defend we'll do it for our lives, and when it is time to attack we will attack with our lives.

"If we do that Belgium will know they will be in for a hell of a game because we have done it before."

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Coleman has called the game Wales' biggest since their 1958 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Brazil in Sweden.

He has told his players to embrace the occasion and says that Wales are not just happy to be in the last eight, they want to go further in the tournament.

"It's not a feeling that Wales can't lose, they weren't meant to be here in the quarter-final, we're underdogs," said Coleman, who will have skipper Ashley Williams available after the centre-back damaged a shoulder against Northern Ireland last weekend.

"It's not the way we see it. It's a huge challenge, but just another one in a line of them we've already met.

"I'm not going to play the occasion down.

"We know what's at stake, we know we've earned it, and it's a great place to be.

"Since the 1958 quarter-final, we have to put this down as the biggest game our country's been involved in."

Belgium suffered a major blow on the eve of the game when Jan Vertonghen tore ankle ligaments in a training session.

The Tottenham defender faces six to eight weeks on the sidelines and his absence has jolted a Belgium backline already missing the suspended Thomas Vermaelen and the injured pair of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Lombaerts.

"As he controlled the ball with left foot, he turned his ankle," said Belgium coach Marc Wilmots, who has already been in touch with Spurs to discuss Vertonghen's treatment.

"He had a scan here at Lille and he has torn two of three external ligaments in his ankle. That means his European Championship is over.

"I am not going to talk about a tragedy because there's a lot more tragic things in life than that, but it's a sporting tragedy for him, if you will, because he was a very important player for us.

"Mentally and physically, he really was completely fit. He had a lot of desire and unfortunately fate decided that on a certain movement that he would do 10,000 times, on that specific movement his ankle turned and tore his ligament.

"Based on our forecast, it should be between six and eight weeks."

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