Wales will be hoping to further make history as they clash with familiar foe England at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Thursday.
This match-up has created quite a bit of buzz. The debutants versus the so-called giants. There will also be plenty of stars on show when these familiar foes collide. For Wales, the go-to man, of course will be Gareth Bale. The world’s most expensive player made history when he scored Wales’s first ever Euro goal. And in true fashion, it was a beauty – a brilliantly taken free-kick to give Wales the lead over Slovakia.
His colleague, Hal Robson-Kanu, also wrote his name into the history books. To date, he is the only player other than Bale or Aaron Ramsey to have scored in a competitive match. Chris Coleman, fortunately still has everyone he needs fit and ready to go for what will be more than just a routine game between two bitter rivals.
To date, England and Wales have met a whopping 101 times. The Three Lions have won 66, whilst the Dragons have won 14. But this time, it will be Wales feeling way more confident after a 2-1 win in their opener. Roy Hodgson’s men, on the other hand, will have to forget their last game – quickly. England, unfortunately, have never won a Euro opening tie, and the feeling was that they had finally snapped their bad streak through a fantastic free-kick by Eric Dier.
Regrettably, it’s really never over until the referee says so, and they were pegged back by a late Russian equalizer. Still, England – namely Hodgson – have themselves to blame. Inexplicably, Harry Kane took their corner kicks. This is despite him being the Premier League Golden Boot winner and Wayne Rooney being used in midfield.
The decision to bring on James Milner in lieu of Jamie Vardy – himself coming off a great campaign – was shocking, to say the least. Although England did not lose, it might as well have been a defeat, putting them under massive pressure for this game. Wales, by contrast, merely need to draw to stay top of their group.
Of course, the Dragons will want more than a draw, and will be gunning for all three points. The Three Lions will be fighting tooth and nail to save face after their irksome draw with Russia. In the case of the Lions versus the Dragons, will the debutants be able to get one up on their “big brother”? Or will England, with a long history of success against Wales reassert themselves with a hard-fought win?