Preview: England v Wales

Wales could secure their qualification into the round of 16 with a win in their grudge match against rivals England at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Thursday.

The Welsh Dragons were firing on all cylinders in their first ever match at a European Championship last week, beating Slovakia 2-1 thanks to goals from their talisman Gareth Bale and Reading midfielder Hal Robson-Kanu.

England, on the other hand, had victory snatched away from them in their first match against Russia when Vasili Berezutski scored a looping header two minutes into injury time to secure his side a 1-1 draw.

The Three Lions will be desperate for a win to avoid placing too much pressure on their final Group B match against Slovakia next week as they look to finish top of the standings to have the easiest route possible through the knockout rounds.


However, they go up against a Welsh outfit in full flight, who know full well a victory will secure a dramatic and somewhat surprising early qualification to the round of 16 against one of their most bitter rivals.

Unsurprisingly, the mind games leading up to the match have been fairly relentless, with Gareth Bale suggesting the England team lack passion and commitment, while Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson admitted playing against a rival at a major tournament adds something special to the occasion.

"The derby atmosphere is great. Many people in England and Great Britain – perhaps even around the world – are looking forward to this game; the fact it is a game against brothers, if you like, adds spice, it adds interest and that is something I can only welcome. If anything it heightens the occasion rather than lessens it," he told reporters.

Wales head coach Chris Coleman believes the key for his side is to focus on their own game and make sure the occasion doesn't get the better of them.

"It's all about us taking care of our own business. If we're going to get through we're going to get through of our own accord. It's a big test and a big challenge for us," he said.

"We've got to care of ourselves and not worry about the opposition, whoever they are. I'm more concerned with my lot than England. We can only concentrate on ourselves.

"I'm not disrespecting England by saying it's just another game. We have to make sure the occasion doesn't get the better of us, I will be making sure my players remain calm and focused."

All of England's players were present at their final training session on Wednesday and Hodgson will have a fully-fit squad to choose from. Unfortunately for Coleman, first-choice goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is still having trouble with the back spasms that kept him out of the win against Slovakia and is rated as doubtful for the clash.

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