We’ve already had one Battle of Britain, it’s now time for another as Wales take on Northern Ireland. The winners of Group B versus the third place side in Group C. If you were to look at the draw then a lot of people, England fans in particular would have had this down as an England Round of 16 clash. So don’t be too surprised if there are lots of England fans then looking to sell their tickets to their British counterparts
Wales topped the group thanks to their win over Russia and England’s subsequent draw against Slovakia last Monday night, Chris Coleman’s side more than made up for the disappointment of losing to England by strolling past a poor Russia side 3-0 and doing what England failed to do and that is take all 3 points from the Russians
3 is definitely the magic number for Gareth Bale. Those 3 goals in the group stages see him as the current tournament leading scorer and with the way draw has opened up in the top half of the bracket there is every chance that the Real Madrid forward could add to his tally in the next fortnight
But first they will have to get past a Northern Ireland side who have Michael McGovern to thank for his goalkeeping heroics on Tuesday afternoon. They were up against World Champions Germany and although Germany would have gone into that game clear favourites, Michael O’Neill’s side would have gone into the game with the belief that they could get something
Even from the early outset that looked like it wasn’t going to be the case as the Germans dished out an onslaught on McGovern’s goal but he was almost equal to everything that they threw at him. It was only a solitary Thomas Muller goal that was the difference in the end but the fact that McGovern kept the score down to just 1-0 meant that they went on to qualify for the Round of 16 so they were jubilant in defeat but now they know the real hard work starts
They looked impressive against Ukraine but it must be said they looked quite blunt against both Poland and Germany in terms of attack, that is a situation they are going to have to rectify if they are going to get the better of Wales. While the Welsh have had no trouble finding the net with 6 goals already this tournament
Wales have the superstar while Northern Ireland have the collective. It’s going to be blood and thunder and evoking memories of Home Championship ties of old. I think Wales will just edge this as they have looked better over the course of the tournament but it’s certainly not going to be an easy ride this evening. A Wales win for me.