Wales will head into Thursday’s clash with England buoyed by their opening game win against Slovakia and not only do they have one foot planted firmly in the last 16, they might now also be harbouring real ambitions of topping the group. Avoiding defeat against England will give them a great opportunity to do just that. However, that prospect is unlikely to have any impact as to how Chris Coleman will set Wales up for this game: they will cede possession to Roy Hodgson’s men and look to Bale to hit hard and fast on the break.
England meanwhile will be disappointed that they couldn’t hang on to the three points that their performance surely deserved. Hodgson’s line up against Russia was arguably his boldest to date and if he goes with a similar team against Wales, there could be chances aplenty for the men in white (and grey) and it’s hard to imagine that they could be so profligate in two successive games. However, lapses in concentration at the back continue to be a problem.
So far in this tournament, the bookies and the markets have been quite bearish on the number of goals in each match, and whilst none of the fixtures on the opening weekend produced a glut, there was very little evidence of the conservative tactics that many pundits feared with the expanded format. Neither England nor Wales can count on their ability to keep a clean sheet - Marik Hamsik and Ondrej Duda exposed Welsh defensive frailties on Saturday afternoon and England’s shortcomings at the back are well documented. Any odds-against prices for Both Teams to Score should probably be taken on.
This fixture will feature 21 men plying their trade in the English leagues so we should reasonably expect the tempo to be high and the challenges meaty. The UEFA refs have not looked over-zealous thus far but it will be interesting to see how Felix Brych here manages this fixture. Dele Alli can probably consider himself fortunate not to have seen red for Spurs this season (he was retrospectively banned for punching Claudio Yacob). The Welsh players will be well aware that the young midfielder is an accident waiting to happen, especially in such an emotionally charged fixture and odds of 3.35 (Unibet) for him to pick up a booking look a very fair shout.
Value in the scorer markets looks difficult to come by. Both Wayne Rooney (6.0) and Harry Kane (5.0) should probably be opposed at their respective prices, given that the former seems set to continue in his midfield role while Kane is the subject of some bizarre experiment in taking corners, instead of looking to get on the end of them. One player who did manage to find himself in a number of threatening positions on Saturday evening was Adam Lallana. The Liverpool man lacked a little composure but if he can get a couple of similar chances on Thursday afternoon then 13.0 could be worth a speculative small-stakes dabble for First Goalscorer.