England head into their Group B clash with Wales under pressure to deliver a positive result following their opening-game draw with Russia last weekend (2pm Thursday live on BBC1). Read on for JustBookies’ preview of this intriguing home nations’ clash with our betting tips’ conclusion.
Roy Hodgson’s side were impressive for long periods of their opening encounter in Marseille on Saturday evening, playing some excellent football in the first half and deservedly taking the lead through Eric Dier in the second.
Their failure to kill the game off by opening up a two-goal lead was ultimately their undoing, however, with Vasili Berezutski’s injury-time header earning Russia a share of the spoils that their all-round performance probably did not merit.
Although there were numerous positives to take from the Three Lions’ display, the fact that they were unable to register a victory means the margin for error in their next two fixtures has become smaller. England should have no trouble qualifying for the round of 16, but dropping more points on Thursday could make it either impossible or unlikely for them to finish on top of the group, which would – in theory at least – see them handed a tougher route to a potential final.
It will be interesting to see how Hodgson sets his side up against Wales. The starting XI selected in the draw with Russia was very attacking, and the former Fulham boss may opt for a slightly more cautious approach with additional support for Eric Dier at the base of the midfield.
Many supporters were surprised that Jamie Vardy (pictured) was not introduced from the bench at the weekend, with the Leicester City striker fighting for a place alongside Harry Kane up top, while Raheem Sterling’s spot could come under threat after a disappointing showing against the Russians. Adam Lallana, who many considered to be a surprise starter on Saturday, should retain his place in Hodgson’s line-up after an impressive performance on the right-hand side of England’s attacking line of three.
Wales got off to the perfect start in their first ever European Championship match, goals from Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu helping them to a 2-1 triumph over Slovakia. It was a deserved victory for Chris Coleman’s charges, who were excellent in the first half as they dominated proceedings with a bold and energetic approach. Wales were sharper and hungrier than Slovakia for most of the game, and Robson-Kanu’s winner was just reward for a fine opening display.
The Reading winger, who plays as a centre-forward for his country, is likely to come into the Wales starting XI in place of Crystal Palace’s Jonny Williams, who played well in the defeat of Slovakia but only started because Robson-Kanu was carrying a knock. The 3-4-3 formation should therefore become a 3-5-1-1, with Bale given a free role in the hole. Aaron Ramsey will likely drop back into midfield, with Joe Ledley replacing David Edwards as the anchorman in the engine room and Wayne Hennessey returning between the sticks. Joe Allen, who was Wales’ best player against Slovakia, will be key when it comes to launching counter-attacks and supplying Bale with the ball in dangerous areas.
Our Preview’s England v Wales Betting Tips Verdict
Thursday’s encounter promises to be a close one, with England and Wales’ respective positions in the Group B standings playing into the latter’s hands. Hodgson’s men will be forced to take the initiative, which could suit a side that has the potential to be lethal on the counter-attack.
England will likely dominate possession and should be able to create chances, but a score draw still looks to be the best bet for this game. Wales will be disciplined and well organised out of possession and have enough quality to cause problems for England at the other end of the pitch, which could result in both nations taking a point each. So these are this match preview’s betting tips: