WEDNESDAY MORNING’S BIG STORIES
1-Gareth Bale says NO England players would make Welsh XI
Gareth Bale has stoked the flames ahead of Wales’ showdown with England in Group B by claiming none of the enemy’s players would make Chris Coleman’s team. That’s right. Wayne Hennessey is supposedly superior to Joe Hart; Hal Robson-Kanu can outscore Harry Kane (which, to be fair, he has so far).
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“None,” said Bale when quizzed about how many England players could squeeze into the Wales ranks. “For me there aren’t any – we just focus on ourselves, others like to comment on them.” Bale, who denied playing mind games, had earlier claimed Wales were more passionate than England, a remark that seemed to rile their fellow Home Nation.
2-Cristiano Ronaldo slams Iceland after Portugal failure
A stream of astonishing quotes, courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo, have leaked out in the aftermath of Portugal’s 1-1 draw with Iceland. The forward struggled throughout the clash – producing a showreel of woeful set-pieces – before departing the pitch at full-time without shaking any opposition hands.
"Iceland only tried to defend... they had two chances and then did not try to score," complained Ronaldo. "They celebrated like they had won the Euro cup or something. That's a small mentality. That's why they'll do nothing."
3-French police draft in 4,000 extra police ahead of Russia and England clashes
France have beefed up security amid fears of more trouble when Russia and England contest their second games in Group B. Violence overshadowed the 1-1 draw between the two nations in Marseille on Saturday, with Russia slapped with a suspended disqualification.
Russia face Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday, with England taking on Wales in nearby Lens the next day. It’s reported 4,000 extra police will be in the former location – where fans are expected to gather – while shops selling alcohol will be closed until Friday.
Image credit: AFP
Austria 0-2 Hungary – It’s a testament to Austria that this result is classed as an upset. Nine wins and a draw in qualifying suggested Marcel Koller’s men were dark horses in France, but they saw Aleksandar Dragovic dismissed as Hungary ran out surprise winners.
Portugal 1-1 Iceland – Cristiano Ronaldo was the latest star to stutter as Birkir Bjarnason netted a second-half equaliser to hand minnows Iceland a huge point and leave Group F wide open.
TODAY’S BIG MATCHES
Russia v Slovakia – 14:00, Lille
All eyes will be on Lille, though not necessarily for good reason. Appalling fan behaviour tarnished Russia’s credible 1-1 draw with England and any repeat antics will likely see them ejected from the tournament.
It’s a conversation football could do without, especially given Russia are due to host the World Cup in two years’ time.
Romania v Switzerland – 17:00, Paris
Two teams often labelled as uninspired meet in the Group A undercard match at Parc des Princes. Romania threatened an unlikely upset in their opener against France, while Switzerland were a shade fortunate to hang on against Albania in their opener.
Victory for Switzerland would see them become the first side to book a spot in the knockout stage.
France v Albania – 20:00, Marseille
Can Dimitri Payet repeat his match-winning antics? The West Ham midfielder notched a sublime goal to snatch a 2-1 win for France against Romania in the tournament opener, with Didier Deschamps almost certain to repay his performance with another start.
The French creaked under pressure from Romania set-pieces last time out, with only good fortune and Hugo Lloris preventing an early upset. Given Albania beat France in a friendly just 12 months ago, this might not be quite as nailed on as you think…
Image credit: AFP
CLASH OF THE DAY
Olivier Giroud v Albanian makeshift defence.
Arlind Ajeti could be the man entrusted with halting Olivier Giroud in Marseille. The little-known 22-year-old could deputise for suspended captain Lorik Cana in defence as Albania chase an unlikely result. Giroud, meanwhile, could do with another goal to banish the French boo boys for good.
ON THE GROUND
Pete Hall in Saint-Etienne
The strikes in France are making getting around rather challenging. Thousands of fans (and me) were left stranded in Lyon after two trains were cancelled, without warning. As a result, the passengers from three trains all crammed onto one. Not pleasant. Such circumstances did not deter the Portuguese and Icelandic fans from having good time, however. Deafening horns did not make the experience any more palatable.
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