The whole country gasped in disbelief on Saturday, as Russia somehow levelled the game against England in the final minute, meaning the forthcoming match against Wales has become an exceedingly significant fixture.
While much has been billed of Wales claiming a win in their first game, while England could only manage a solitary point, anyone who watched both games could see that the Three Lions look a far more exciting and threatening side.
However, with the pressure now firmly on Roy Hodgson and his men, a slip up against Wales would be an unmitigated disaster.
Here are FIVE key problems that England’s manager must address before the vital game in Lens this Thursday…
England’s first half performance against Russia last Saturday has been arguably the best showing from any team at the European Championship so far. It was a truly dominant display, which resulted in a large percentage of possession and no fewer than eight chances in the first 45 minutes.
However, the only statistic that matters is the final score. England simply could not convert some glorious opportunities against Russia and will need to make the most of every chance they get against the Welsh.
Many England fans were left scratching their heads as to Roy Hodgson’s substitutions in the closing minutes of Saturday’s game. Wayne Rooney left the field, despite marshalling the midfield all night, while James Milner entered the game instead of Jamie Vardy, who would likely have left Russia’s aged and fatigued defence in his wake.
These changes simply did not work and England were punished cruelly in the last minute of the game. Fear of facing the wrath of the media may force Hodgson to give Vardy some playing time on Thursday.
Perhaps the most bizarre decision from England came in the form of Harry Kane, who was tasked with taking corners all night against Russia.
Firstly, the Spurs man’s distribution from these set pieces was abject, and secondly, it removes one of England’s best headers of the ball from the box.
Surely, there will be someone better equipped to take corners on Thursday. Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Delli Alli, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose would all certainly be more sensible options.
While no one should underestimate the importance of this game for England, this is truly a game that Wales’ fans and players alike will be desperate to win more than ever.
Considered the underdogs in this match-up by most, Chris Coleman’s men will be totally prepared for this game and will be aggressive and energetic.
England must be prepared to play the occasion; do not get carried away and simply play in the same vein that they did so fantastically in the first half against Russia.
The golden boy who Wales are relying on to help them progress in this tournament, Gareth Bale is a serious threat to England on Thursday.
Not only is he one of the most technically gifted players in world football, his recent pre-match comments have suggested he will be particularly motivated for this game.
England must defend well as a unit and not concede any unnecessary free kicks around their area, or risk facing the wrath of a master at dead ball scenarios.