HERE we go again!
Get ready for the agony, ecstasy and disappointment that goes hand-in-hand with supporting England at a major tournament.
But for a whole generation of Wales fans, today is a new experience.
They get to watch their boys in action at a first European Championships and a first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
Will Hodgson get it right on the night?
ENGLAND should be bouncing ahead of tonight’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia.
They won all ten qualifiers and come to the finals on the back of three wins in their warm-up friendlies. But the doubts remain.
Can the defence cope under real pressure? What formation will Hodgson go for – should it be a diamond with Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy up front? Where will captain Wayne Rooney play – and should he play at all?
But England are notoriously slow starters with only four wins from their opening games at the last 18 tournaments stretching back to 1966. However, it’s not how you arrive at a tournament that matters, but how you leave. But victory over a moderate Russian team in Marseille should be well within England’s grasp.
Player of the day: Gareth Bale
GARETH BALE will today do something that proved beyond Ryan Giggs, Neville Southall, Ian Rush and Mark Hughes and that is represent Wales at a major tournament. Bale did more than most to get his country to this stage with seven goals in the qualifiers, but now his challenge is to leave a mark on the Euros, starting today against Slovakia in Bordeaux.
The £85 million man is known throughout Europe thanks to his success at Tottenham and Real Madrid but there is no doubting his pride and commitment when he pulls on that red shirt.
Perhaps the best comparison is with Welsh legend John Charles, another who found fame and fortune abroad with Juventus. He played a key role in helping the 1958 World Cup squad to reach the quarter-finals, but Charles was injured and missed the 1-0 defeat to eventual winners Brazil.
SPARE a thought today for Ragip and Eli Xhaka. They should be proud parents as their boys, Granit and Taulant, line up for today’s match between Albania and Switzerland.
The problem comes from the fact they will be on different sides!
Granit, who has recently joined Arsenal, will be in midfield for the Swiss in direct confrontation with his older brother in the Albanian team. Ragip and Eli are Kosovo-Albanians and left Kosovo in 1991 to escape the Balkans War and went to Switzerland.
Both their boys made it as footballers and played in all the Swiss youth levels up to Under-21s, but Taulant opted to represent the country of his parents whereas Granit stuck with Switzerland. Mum and Dad have already said they want an honourable draw in Lens to keep everyone happy!
French of the day
Les Rosbifs (The Roast beefs – aka The English)
2pm: Albania vs Switzerland (Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis, BBC)
5pm: Wales vs Slovakia (Matmut Atlantique, BBC)
8pm: England vs Russia (Stade Vélodrome, ITV)