EURO 2016 BLOG: Battle of Britain with Wales terrifies me

Saturday's late and undeserved Russian equaliser has set up what, for most Englishmen, will be an almost unwatchable Battle of Britain with Wales this Thursday afternoon.

Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:09 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 1:13 pm

Had the Welsh failed to win or had England held on, most England fans would be feeling far more confident about taking on Chris Coleman’s men.

Instead, you can’t help having that sneaking, sickening feeling you may be about to watch the Welsh make history.

England fans have grown used to feeling let down by their national side and with Wales sitting above England after the first round of games, it feels like the pressure is far more on Roy Hodgson’s side than the Welsh.

With a 2pm kick-off no doubt there will be a spate of sick days nationwide as well as ears pressed to radios in offices and factories.

It’s going to be a rocky ride, even from before kick-off.

No matter how hard our travelling fans sing God Save The Queen, you can be sure they will be outdone by how fiercely patrotic the Welsh sing Land of my Fathers. It is a sound that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. We really need to change our anthem. Jerusalem would be perfect.

On the pitch England have everything to lose and Wales everything to gain and that knowledge will inevitably see the Welsh side play out of their skins.

It is a scary prospect for England and how they need a reassuring opening goal to settle them down.

As always with football, it’s down to such fine lines.

Wales were very fortunate to beat Slovakia with a miscued late goal while England should have been out of sight before that agonising late Russian leveller.

But England fans will take huge heart from an overall decent, attacking display from their young guns who set about the Russians from the off and created so many chances.

Now Hodgson has to weigh up whether to stick or twist with his line-up.

Raheem Sterling seems to have taken most of the criticism for an often wasteful display while Harry Kane worked hard but failed to even get a touch of the ball in the Russian box all game.

Hodgson took a risk by playing Wayne Rooney in midfield – a gamble that paid off with a calm, experienced display – only to gamble again and take him off to bring on Jack Wilshire after going ahead, this one backfiring as Russia hit back.

Should he have thrown on Jamie Vardy or Marcus Rashford instead of Wilshire and gone for a second goal? Both are absolutely raring to go on the big European stage and fans are desperate to see them.

Personally I think Hodgson’s XI was the right one and I also think the Wilshire decision was right too.

That England side should have been good enough to keep out the Russians and it was a sickening kick in the teeth to see that Vasili Berezutski header loop up and over everyone and then drop under the bar in the far corner.

It will have felt like defeat in the dressing room afterwards and Hodgson will need to get his young side’s chins up off the floor to do battle with the Welsh dragon on Thursday.

Off the field, let’s hope the alcohol ban and increased policing does the trick to stem the violence that has marred the tournament.

A minority of England fans have once again let the flag down and disgraced themselves abroad. They should be identified and banned from foreign travel full stop, not just watching England. Ground them like you would a naughty child.

But let’s not forget this disease is not exclusively an English one and the organised Russian hooligan gangs are terrifying and the security in the stadium in Marseilles looked powerpuff.

Feelings and taunts will be running incredibly high on Thursday so let’s hope both sets of fans stick to a war of words via chants and not fists and boots for this mouthwatering Battle of Britain.