By Dan Eales (Wales) & Tom Clarke (Slovakia)

Wales (Dan Eales)

How I will watch it

As an Englishman and having drawn Wales in the sweepstake, I do feel slightly awkward cheering on an historical and geographical rival, especially when they are in the same group as the Three Lions. However, maybe, just maybe, I might hum along to Land of our Fathers, providing no one is around. With a cold one in hand, I will most likely watch Wales’ tournament opener in the comfort of my own front room. It will be the perfect excitement builder for England v Russia, which I will definitely be heading to my local for.

As we have seen in the past, the plucky underdog has his day more often than we realise. Last minute entrants Denmark gatecrashed Euro 92 and took it by storm. Twelve years later, Europe looked on in disbelief as Greece tore up the rulebook at Euro 04. Twelve years later, well, here we are. Maybe this year will follow suit and see Wales pull off a miracle. Having not appeared at an international tournament since 1958, many have given Wales slim to no chance, but I say otherwise. The lack of expectation and having never tasted tournament failure, unlike the neighbouring English, leaves The Dragons thoroughly free to enjoy themselves and take the tournament by the short and curlies.

Players to watch

I think its pretty obvious who the focus will be on here, this is the guy Wales will turn to when the chips are down, when all else has failed, when their backs are against the wall, Gareth Bale. Undoubtedly one of the best players at the tournament, this could be Gareth’s one and only chance to rub shoulders with the best of the best at a major tournament and to truly establish himself at international level. As Bale has proven on many occasions for Real Madrid, he can change a game with a piece of brilliance the Welsh haven’t seen since maybe Rush or Giggs.

Gareth Bale of Wales, left, v Belgium

Both Bale and Ramsey could hold the key to Wales’ success.

With Bale baring most of the weight of the nations hopes, he will be counting on Aaron Ramsey to step up and provide that box to box dynamism he provides so often at club level. Ramsey is somewhat outshone for Arsenal with the likes of Özil and Sanchez taking most of the plaudits, however in the heart of the Welsh midfield he is by far the most gifted of them all. I’m not completely sold on his new hairdo though, bleach blonde just isn’t your colour Aaron.

Predicted Score: Wales 3 – 2 Slovakia

The pair have only ever met on two previous occasions, and both were absolute crackers. the Euro 2008 qualifiers saw them share 13 goals over the two games. The first a 5-1 demolition by the Slovaks, then a 5-2 romp by the Welsh in Slovakia. So if previous encounters are anything to go by, This should be a goal glut for everyone to enjoy.
Slovakia (Tom Clarke)

How I will watch it

After a few days of scouting out local venues with a 24 hour pub licence (the perks of currently being in Sydney!) The Casino across the street from the hostel I’m staying in seemed the wise choice for next month ahead. I’ve managed to recruit some Welsh supporters for the 2am start, at least I’ll have some company! Hopefully they will stay up for the 5am England game too.

Players to watch

Clearly Martin Škrtel the leader of the Slovakian national team will be instrumental, his top level experience will be vital if Slovakia are to progress past the Group Stages in their debut European Championship. Napoli captain Marek Hamšik still rated very highly as one of Europe’s Premier attacking midfielders, will be hoping to unlock some defences, give him space at your peril Wales.

Marek-Hamsik-Slovakia-Euros-Wath-2016-e14652905113922

The Falcons will be hoping Hamšik can reproduce the inspiring form he has shown at Napoli.

It will be interesting to see who wins the battle between Róbert Vittek (all time leading goal scorer with 23 in 81 games) and Welsh captain Ashley Williams. Both very physical players and built like battering rams. Did you Know Vladimir Weiss topped the qualifying charts with 6 assists.

Predicted Score:

In my opinion the Welsh dragons will be too strong for The Slovakians tonight, 2-1 to the Welsh.