The second round of matches in group B of Euro 2016 brings together two fierce rivals who will meet for the first time in a major tournament: England and Wales. Their meeting on Thursday 16th June will be the 102nd in the history of this fixture, with England boasting the upper hand, having won on 66 occasions.
Wales have just 14 victories to their name, while 21 contests have ended in a stalemate. This kind of head-to-head record can have a habit of making a mockery of punters, but such English dominance simply cannot be overlooked.
History dictates that the Three Lions should enjoy themselves once again in the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, having triumphed in six of their last seven meetings dating back to 1982. The most recent pair of fixtures between the two came in qualifying for Euro 2012, which England won 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.
Indeed, the last "home international" of any significance came at the European Championships of 1996, when Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne’s wonder strike handed England a 2-0 win over Scotland in that infamous clash at Wembley Stadium. The Three Lions reached the last four that year under Terry Venables, so they will be hoping lightning can strike twice.
Can England secure qualification to the knockout phase of the competition with victory over their neighbours then, or will Wales produce one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history?
The triple-header of friendlies in May and June revealed an England side in good spirits. While doubts remain as to the best system for this particular group of players, a trio of wins over Australia, Turkey and Portugal suggests that this squad can adapt to whichever formation Roy Hodgson plucks out of the air next.
The debate regarding Wayne Rooney – is he a midfielder, striker or best left out of the side altogether? – will rage on, while the inclusion of Jamie Vardy as a central striker alongside Harry Kane is surely England’s best chance of success in France this summer.
Fans of English football will need little in the way of introduction to this Welsh side, with nine of their expected starting 11 plying their trade in the Premier League on a weekly basis, the tenth – Sam Vokes – set to join them with newly-promoted Burnley, and Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, who requires no further explanation.
Chris Coleman’s men did really well to qualify for Euro 2016, their first major tournament appearance since the World Cup of 1958, in a group that contained the improving Belgium and potential obstacles in Israel and Bosnia-Herzegovina. They progressed with ease in the end, so England must not take them lightly.
But preparation is often vital ahead of major tournaments and you’d have to surmise that Wales’ build up – which has featured a solitary friendly since March (and that was a 0-3 loss at the hands of Sweden) – has been patchy at best. Perhaps that will be the defining factor.
The Three Lions will be heavily fancied to win then, but don’t expect it to be easy. A small margin of victory is likely, so backing England to win at 8/13 with Coral Sports is a smart investment, as is a correct score of 2-0 (96/17 with NetBet).
England have only failed to score once in their last 12 outings, netting two or more goals in nine of those matches. As such, backing them to score a brace or more here looks a decent investment – available at 19/20 with Coral.
Wales will take heart from the fact that Hodgson’s side have kept just one clean sheet in their last five. So can the dragons breach Joe Hart’s goal here? Their chances don’t look great given that in their last few matches against teams of an equal footing to England – the likes of Sweden, Belgium, Ukraine and even Israel – they could not find the net. So a 'Both Teams to Score (No)' bet looks viable at 11/17 with 10Bet.
But as we’ve seen throughout European Championship history, shock results and surprises are never far away. Who can forget Greece’s run to the final in 2004, the Czech Republic’s agonising defeat in the 1996 finale and Denmark’s sensational run to the title in 1992?
If Wales can take heart from those performances, then they are capable of making a mockery of these betting tips. For all the latest on Euro 2016, visit Coral Sports before the next match kicks off!