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Wales can be Belgium's bogey team and the Euro 2016 quarter-finals talking points

The first of four last-eight ties will be played tonight as Poland take on Portugal.

Soccer Euro 2016 Portugal Ronaldo during training this week. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 15.30 

Ronaldo nears Euros record, Poland look to misfiring Lewandowski

Poland v Portugal, 8pm tonight, Marseille

The Euro 2016 quarter-finals start tonight with Cristiano Ronaldo seeking a new step towards his first international title when Portugal take on Poland in Marseille.

In the battle of Europe’s top strikers, Poland will be counting on Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski to deaden the Ronaldo threat by scoring his first goal in the tournament.

The match starts four days of tense and historic encounters which will see Germany seeking a first win at a major tournament against Italy, Wales playing for British honour against Belgium and France face giantkillers Iceland.

Poland and Portugal have both underachieved at Euros and the World Cup and both now have a golden opportunity to make a name on international level.

The winner will face Belgium or Wales in the semi-final avoiding the favoured heavyweights.

Much focus will be on Ronaldo, a regular match-winner for Real Madrid who has never enjoyed success with Portugal.

But the 31-year-old is just one goal away from more European history by matching French legend Michel Platini’s record mark of nine goals in the Euro finals. He is already the first player to score in four Euros.

Lewandowski got the most goals of any player in qualifying for the finals. But he has not scored in four games in France. Poland must thank its powerful defence for much of its success at Euro 2016.

Poland coach Adam Nawalka insists he still has full confidence in Lewandowski. But he is also wating for Ajax Amsterdam striker Arkadiusz Milik to come good for Poland.

Portugal have fitness concerns over Raphael Guerreiro, Andre Gomes and Joao Moutinho, so 18-year-old Renato Sanches could start for the first time in the tournament.

Sanches showed why German giants Bayern Munich paid Benfica €35 million for his services as he came off the bench to win man-of-the-match in the last 16 victory against Croatia.

Homecoming for Hazard as Wales and Belgium lock horns again

Belgium v Wales, 8pm tomorrow, Lille

BELGIUM BOSS MARC Wilmots will not attempt to man-mark Gareth Bale out of the game when his side face Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

The Real Madrid forward has netted three times at the finals in France – making him his country’s top scorer at major tournaments – and it was his cross that forced Gareth McAuley’s own goal in the last-16 victory over Northern Ireland.

Bale also scored the only goal of the game when these sides met in qualifying last June, with Wales following up a 0-0 away draw with a 1-0 victory in Cardiff that helped propel them into the finals.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group B - Wales v Belgium - Cardiff City Stadium Hazard and Bale when the teams met in qualifying. Source: Nick Potts

Wales, who have kept two consecutive clean sheets for the first time in their tournament history, last reached this stage of a major competition at the World Cup in 1958, where they were beaten by Brazil.

Belgium, meanwhile, made the last eight at the World Cup two years ago and are now chasing their first semi-final place since the tournament in Mexico in 1986.

After falling to a 2-0 opening defeat to Italy, Wilmots’ side have recaptured some of their best form, scoring eight times without conceding in their last three matches – thanks largely to the impact of captain Eden Hazard, who will be returning to the city where he made his professional debut.

Thomas Vermaelen is suspended for the clash at Stade Pierre-Mauroy – a ground located just 10 kilometres west of Belgium, and which will host its final match at Euro 2016 on Friday.

Hazard is battling a thigh problem but Wilmots expects him to be fully fit, while Coleman hopes to have captain Ashley Williams available despite a shoulder injury.

Two European heavyweights meet in Bordeaux

Germany v Italy, 8pm Saturday, Bordeaux

A clash of the Titans beckons when the world champions and the Azzurri square off in the plum tie of the last eight.

Die Mannschaft have never beaten Italy in eight previous meetings at major tournaments, but romped to a 4-1 win in a friendly in March.

The Azzurri are buoyed by Monday’s 2-0 win over defending champions Spain in the last 16.

Soccer Euro 2016 Germany The German players stretching at their base in Evian-Les-Bains. Source: Michael Probst

Italy will be without the suspended Thiago Motta while Daniele De Rossi is a major injury doubt as Germany hunt revenge for their 2-1 semi-final defeat at Euro 2012 in Warsaw.

We are playing against the best side in the Euros bar none and we will need a titanic effort on Saturday,” said Italy coach Antonio Conte.

Joachim Loew has said Germany has no Italian complex despite their Azzurri curse in big tournaments.

“We don’t have any fear of them, just trust in our own skills,” said Germany’s head coach.

“For me that’s cold coffee. I’d rather have a fresh espresso. We’ll see how it tastes on Saturday,” he added when reminded of Germany’s previous results against Italy on the big stage.

Loew has no injury worries, but Sami Khedira has a slight groin problem, while centre-backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng are carrying knocks.

“It will be an unbelievably tight game,” added Loew.

Iceland out to cause an upset against tournament hosts France

France v Iceland, 8pm Sunday, Paris 

England v Iceland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Nice The Iceland players celebrate defeating England with their fans. Source: Claude Paris

France will be missing both midfielder N’Golo Kante and defender Adil Rami due to suspension against battling Iceland, who are fresh from beating England.

Iceland are making their debut appearance at a major tournament and their 2-1 win over the Three Lions in the last 16 will go down as one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history.

With a population of just 330,000, Iceland is the smallest nation to have appeared at any major tournament but the Scandinavian minnows refuse to be overawed by the occasion.

“We always believe. That’s our attitude,” said their captain, Cardiff City midfielder Aron Gunnarsson.

Antoine Griezmann will be the key man for France after scoring both their goals in their 2-1 win over Ireland in the last 16 in Lyon.

Yohan Cabaye is expected to replace Kante in midfield while Rami’s absence has left the door open for Samuel Umtiti of Lyon to win his first cap.

© AFP 2016 

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