Doha (Qatar): England and Wales go head-to-head in their last Group B game on Tuesday with national pride at stake almost as much as a place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
England disappointed in their last group game against the U.S., struggling to open up an aggressive and energetic American side, and coach Gareth Southgate will be looking for a big improvement on Tuesday.
Their 6-2 win against Iran means England’s goal difference should be enough to see them into the next round, but a defeat would be a huge confidence blow for the side and the coach.
Southgate is likely to make some changes to starting 11, with Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount in danger of losing their places to Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, while the attack-minded Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold could get a chance ahead of Kieran Trippier, and even Harry Kane could drop to the bench for Callum Wilson.
Wales coach Robert Page was brutally honest in his assessment of his charges’ defeat to Iran which leaves their qualification on a knife edge. Page admitted his side had not been good enough but promised they would give everything in their last match.
Wales need to beat England and then hope the U.S. and Iran draw their game, which is being played at the same time.
Wales have lost their last six meetings with their neighbours, with their last victory over England coming in 1984, but the coach also stressed that the deep rivalry between the two teams means that even if they have to catch the first plane home, Wales would return as heroes if they win, reports Xinhua.
Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is suspended after his sending-off against Iran, and Leicester City’s Danny Ward will play in his place. The page could also drop Aaron Ramsey for Joe Allen after two ineffective displays, while Gareth Bale could make his international swansong despite also looking below his best in Qatar.
The difference in class between an England side consisting of Premier League stars and a Welsh side that contains several players from the lower divisions is clear, but in this ‘Battle of Britain’ the Welsh will look to make up in courage what they lack in quality.