Every team has now played a game and, I know this might sound odd given that we drew our first match, but I honestly feel that England delivered one of the better performances.
The Germans’ 2-0 result against Ukraine looked better than it was, Spain laboured to a win against an average Czech Republic team and only broke the deadlock late on, and the hosts France did not set the world on fire when beating Romania 2-1 in the first game of the tournament.
I hugely enjoyed watching Italy beat Belgium. What was great to see was a defensive unit that delivered what they do better than anyone else; stopping the opposition from scoring. It is an art that has almost disappeared from the EPL, but I can see it translating into a very successful tournament for the Italians. With regards to defensive ability alone, they are a long way ahead of any other country.
But returning to the Three Lions who performed really well against Russia, and a similar standard late on Wednesday night versus Wales should result in Roy Hodgson’s men picking up a victory.
I read everywhere that the Welsh are going to be massively motivated for this clash, but I really can’t see why England won’t be equally as revved-up, even more so knowing that victory would move them to the top of the pool.
I’d be shocked if Roy Hodgson doesn’t name the same starting XI, and Chris Coleman will have no reason to change the winning line-up from their victory over Slovakia. The two full backs are commonly the out-ball for Wales, they get forward whenever they can and, if Sterling and Lallana sit in and help the midfield, our own full-backs might become penned-back if we don’t stamp our authority on the match. I don’t expect England to have any special plans for Gareth Bale, aside from simply cutting-off the supply to him.
I’ve heard people say that Spurs’ striker Harry Kane looked tired against the Russians, but if truth be told it just didn’t run for him and he had to do a lot of hard graft for little return. He has set such a high standard for himself that as soon as he falls just a little bit short people will get on his back. But I can tell you he’ll be up for this clash as much as the rest of the England boys and he will cause the Wales backline all sorts of problems.
One thing I will add about Kane is he is wasted on corner duty! As one of the best goal-scorers in the world he should be in the box for when a chance comes, not delivering set pieces.
England are simply superior to the Welsh and, as long as we put in a decent performance, I fully expect a victory. That man Harry Kane can pick himself up from the Russia game and show everyone what he’s capable of, and the Spurs forward to score in an England win at $3.1 is a great bet.
Northern Ireland seemed to be looking for a draw against Poland and I can see them taking a similar approach this time when they face the Ukraine, who will consider themselves unfortunate not to have got something in their opener with Germany. The big concern is that Michael O’Neill doesn’t seem to have a back-up plan when the opposition score, and that is a big problem. To date we are yet to see an encounter with lots of goals, but if Ukraine net early then the floodgates could open on Friday morning. With that in mind, I’m going for -2 on the Asian Handicap market at $4.6.