Hart-stopping moment not enough to stop England
It took a late goal but there’s no doubt that England deserved to win against Wales. Chris Coleman’s men put up a good fight but – for all their huff and puff – simply couldn’t cause the Three Lions enough problems.
Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen performed well in the middle of the park, but there wasn’t a real attacking threat. I expected more of Gareth Bale. Yes, he scored, but Joe Hart won’t need me to tell him he should have saved Bale’s free-kick. Similar to the one he netted against Slovakia, Bale seems to have a psychological advantage against keepers, who try to second guess where his strikes are going to go.
Wales were looking very leggy by the end of the game and now need to pick themselves up off the floor ahead of the game against Russia. It will be bitterly disappointing for them if they lose that game and go out after their fantastic start to the tournament.
As for England, they were clearly the better side and they must go on to wrap up the group against Slovakia on Monday.
Roy made the right call at the right time
Now Vardy and Sturridge must start. I was at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens for the England-Wales game and Roy Hodgson can take credit for the substitutions he made at half-time.
But he didn’t have much choice. Raheem Sterling’s confidence looks shot. He’s a young player that’s maybe lost a little direction and I’m not expecting him to start again this tournament. Harry Kane seems to be running on empty.
If the same side had come out for the second half it wouldn’t have been fair on Sterling or Kane and the England fans would have gone bonkers.
Daniel Sturridge, in particular, played well and Jamie Vardy has that incredible knack of being in the right place at the right time. Hodgson has to give them both a shirt for the Slovakia game, and I’m backing the Liverpool striker to score again. I can see it being a relatively comfortable 2-0 win, with the other goal coming from a set-piece.
I think the team will otherwise be unchanged, although I’m sure he’ll look to give Jack Wilshere a few more minutes.
Rubbish Russia can give Wales hope
All is not lost for Wales. I think they will get something out of the game against Russia, who, for me, have been the worst team at Euro 2016.
While they have been the most disappointing, a number of the bigger nations haven’t got into top gear yet either. Germany didn’t click against Poland, Portugal couldn’t break down Iceland and France haven’t got going yet either.
A lot of the so-called inferior teams have come with a similar game plan, which is making them hard to beat.
A festival of football in France
I’ve heard it said that Russia should lose the right to host the 2018 World Cup and there is no doubt that their holding of the competition comes under the spotlight on the back of events during the last week.
They are a major footballing nation, with impressive stadiums, so it’s fair enough that they got the tournament in the first place, but people certainly have the right to ask questions now.
The onus will be on Russia to prove that the country and its fans will be a welcoming host. If supporters don’t attend in numbers then we could be left with a flat tournament. But back to matters at hand and, as we move into the second week of the tournament, hopefully we can put the off-field problems behind us.
Here in Paris, where I am mostly based throughout, there is a fantastic atmosphere. Fans from every country at the finals are using the city as a base and you see all the different flags and shirts wherever you go, with all nationalities coming together to enjoy the games.