England’s game against Wales today is as big as it comes. Thanks to Slovakia’s win over Russia on Wednesday night, England know that anything but a win leaves them in very muddy waters for qualification for the knockout stage and Wales know a win will effectively secure a ticket to the next round.
From a Manchester United perspective, three players could be in action. Chris Smalling will face his biggest test so far in Gareth Bale; the Welsh talisman started up front in their group opener against Slovakia and is likely to do the same today, so Smalling will need to bring his A-game if Bale isn’t going to run riot.
Wayne Rooney was arguably England’s man of the match against Russia in match-day one in his deeper midfield role and I’d expect him to start there today. At 5/1 to score first on Titanbet, Rooney might be worth a punt as only a world class save from Igor Akinfeev stopped him from grabbing a goal against Russia.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like Rooney in a central midfield position but he really thrived there in the first game. Will that be where he plays under Jose Mourinho? I’m still convinced he won’t but the more he plays in that position the better he’ll get.
Now, the player I am desperate to see is Marcus Rashford. The 18-year-old is the youngest player at Euro 2016 and in terms of an electric substitute there aren’t many better than Marcus, although Jamie Vardy might have something to say about that.
Against Russia, England desperately needed an injection of pace towards the end of the game when they began to tire and play a higher line but Roy Hodgson instead chose to bring on James Milner. One thing England cannot afford today, in what is almost a knock-out game, is pragmatism and that’s why I think Rashford’s got a great chance of getting some minutes and with Titanbet offering a money back bet if a substitute scores, you could be quids in.
With a loss against Wales, England will find themselves on the edge of elimination after just two games but with a win everything is back on track. Can Rooney, Smalling and Rashford help them achieve that? Here’s hoping so!