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Euro 2016 Daily Digest: Battle of Britain to commence today!

England manager Roy Hodgson (UEFA via Getty Images)
England manager Roy Hodgson (UEFA via Getty Images)

IT’s the day everyone has been looking forward to since the draw for the Euros was made in December.

‘The Battle of Britain’, England versus Wales, dominates proceedings in a match that is keenly anticipated on both sides for the first meeting between two home nations at a major tournament since Euro 96.

And once the dust settles from that, there is another ‘derby’ to enjoy this evening when Germany and Poland meet at the Stade de France, as well as Northern Ireland’s second match against Ukraine.

Can England replicate what they did against Russia?

Wayne Rooney of England (Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Wayne Rooney of England (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

FOR all but the last 30 seconds of Saturday’s game in Marseille, Roy Hodgson, England’s players and fans would have been pleased with what was happening. The team played at a fast tempo, created some good chances and situations and were pretty solid in defence. Yet one lapse at the back cost them two points and a morale boosting win became a confidence-sapping draw and now puts them under more pressure ahead of today’s match against Wales. It is hard to describe this as just another game with everything that surrounds it, but that is the message the players must have. There is no need to change the system for Hodgson. What he must hope for is to be more clinical in front of goal and hope Wayne Rooney excels again in midfield and Harry Kane comes to life up front. Because the Three Lions did enough in that first game to suggest that if everything clicks, they could be a real force at Euro 2016.

Will Wales’ trash talk come back to bite them?

Wales' Gareth Bale (Joe Giddens/PA)
Wales’ Gareth Bale (Joe Giddens/PA)

GARETH BALE and Aaron Ramsey are undoubtedly Wales’ two best and most high-profile players. And they have used their status to throw verbal grenades in the direction of the English. Bale has said the Welsh have more passion and Ramsey indicated that he thought they were better than England. All great knockabout stuff for those in the Media but are they being clever or foolish? Bale and Ramsey could be doing the equivalent of poking a sleeping lion as England will not be short of motivation now. They would love to shove those words down Bale and Ramsey’s throats with a convincing victory. And Bale and Ramsey might spend a lot of time chasing the ball if Chris Coleman sets his team up defensively as is likely, which creative players do not enjoy. The match won’t be won by who sings their national anthem with more gusto, but perhaps Bale is reserving one of his special moments for this afternoon in Lens.

Player of the day: Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski of Poland (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Robert Lewandowski of Poland (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI will carry the hopes of his nation tonight when Poland take on their fiercest rivals Germany. The Poles have been more regular visitors to major tournaments in the last 15 years without ever recording that one landmark victory. How they would love it to be tonight. They did beat the Germans for the first time ever in the qualifiers for this event with a 2-0 win in Warsaw in October 2014, so they now know they can do it. And in Lewandowski, they have a man well known in Germany, who could strike fear into a vulnerable German defence. The 27-year-old has scored 170 goals in the last six seasons divided between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich and is arguably the finest No.9 in European football today. He hasn’t been quite as prolific for his country, but he has still scored 34 in 77 appearances. And unlike the last great striker born in Poland, Miroslav Klose, he hasn’t opted to represent Germany.

French of the Day: Buteur (goalscorer)


Euro 2016 Daily Digest: Hope for more excitement on the pitch and less trouble off it in the second round of matches

Euro 2016 Daily Digest: Will Cristiano Ronaldo shine as Group F gets underway?