This game needs no introduction, England v Wales is a massive game whenever it is played, but in a European Championship group after England only mustered a draw against Russia in the previous game? This is a game of gargantuan proportions.
Wales will be bursting with confidence after beating Slovakia on Saturday and sitting pretty at the top of Group B on 3 points. The great thing about that Welsh victory was the togetherness they showed, it was quite clear after Gareth Bale scored his free kick how much it meant to the entire squad, whether they were on the pitch or not. Wales will be hoping to take this togetherness, as well as the confidence taken from the win and having one of the World's best footballers in their ranks into the England game. I think Wales will definitely fancy their chances, especially after England's false start.
England's game against Russia can be viewed in a variety of different ways, one being that Russia were dominated during the game and just got lucky at the end with a ridiculous looping header. Another way is that England were in the ascendency, 1-0 up and Hodgson takes off their Captain and by far most experienced player in Wayne Rooney and then makes another negative substitution in bringing on Milner because he wanted to try and win 1-0, which subsequently backfired.
The main point you can take from it is that they didn't win, and that now makes this Wales game a must win game. If England don't beat Wales, they will have to rely on other results in the group which should be unthinkable to them. Wales would love to essentially knock England out of the Euros and I'm sure it will be spoken about for generations if it does happen.
I am probably Roy Hodgson's biggest critic and that made this game hard to call, especially because Coleman out managed him in the first game by far and that could happen again. Having said that, Roy should have learned his lesson from that game and with all of the talking Bale has done in the press, England will desperately want to put Wales back in their place and I fancy them to do it - just.
Gareth Bale and Eric Dier both scored free kicks in the last game for both sides. England have a wealth of talented free kick takers available and Gareth Bale is also a fantastic free kick taker. An outside punt could be that both teams score a free kick in this game and it wouldn't be completely out of the question.
This was so hard to call as there are so many different possibilities that weren't completely out of the question. Wales are the best they have been for decades and England do have a very young squad without a lot of tournament experience, add 2 time Champions League winner Gareth Bale into the mix and it does sound like Wales are going to win. I just feel that Rooney and co will pull something out of the bag here and just edge it, purely because it means so much and a lot of the youngsters will play without fear.
I think this game will either be 0-0 or 1-1 at the end of the first half with all to play for in the second. It will be so finely poised at half time and both sets of fans will be biting their nails down to the grain. This will be a hell of an exciting match for both sides but I think HT draw and FT England win is the way that it will go and it's taken a lot of deliberation to come to that decision.
Wayne Rooney's tournament record has been slated for a long time now, even by myself but it feels different this time. He ran the game against Russia and got involved in quite a few attacks. He should have scored if not for a wonder save from Akinfeev and I just feel that as the most experienced member of this England team by a mile, he will feel that he has to drag England through the group stage. It will also not be lost on him how important the England / Wales rivalry is.
This is mostly for the same reasons cited for him to score the first goal, I think England will win 2-1 and Rooney will score both of them. There's just a feeling in my bones that this will happen, he seems to much more focused and the likes of Kane and Vardy have taken the pressure off him to be England's main goal scoring threat. I also think that Wales will not treat him as a goal scoring threat as much as they would have 5 years ago. Watch this space.