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Three key battles to watch out for in England vs Wales

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Euro 2016 has got off to a flying start with several enticing encounters between the finest teams in the continent.

The action and drama is unfolding rather too quickly with some fixtures already catching the eye over others.

One such fixture would certainly be Wales against England.

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The proximity of the two nations renders the match as an international derby of sorts, where passion takes the front seat. The two teams come in different mindsets into the tournament with it being Wales' first major tournament appearance in 58 years while England are outside favourites to go all the way.

Regardless of the expectations from the sides, both British giants would be hoping to get the upper hand over the other and secure the all important three points.

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Here we take a look at three player battles which will be crucial in deciding the tie.

Gareth Bale vs Chris Smalling

Gareth Bale is fresh off winning his second Champions League title with Real Madrid and he will be hoping for continental success with his national team to add to ever growing list of achievements.

The former Tottenham player is a different beast with his national side where he is undoubtedly the main man. Bale scored an incredible seven of his side's 11 goals in qualifying and the Welsh forward was directly involved in 82 percent of his team's goals - more than any other player at the Euros.

Wales v Slovakia - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

The man entrusted with keeping Bale at bay will most likely be Manchester United centre-back, Chris Smalling. The former Fulham defender has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with the Red Devils, cementing his place at the heart of the defence.

He was absolutely instrumental for his side who boasted the best defensive record in the league - conceding just 35 goals in 38 games.

Aaron Ramsey vs Wayne Rooney

The midfield battle is sure to be an exciting one with both teams boasting quality players in the middle of the park.

Aaron Ramsey is certainly Wales' talisman in midfield bringing his Premier League experience into play. The Welsh midfielder has matured immensely over the past couple of seasons, becoming an integral player for both club and country.

FBL-EURO-2016-MATCH3-WAL-SVK

Ramsey enjoyed an 86% pass completion rate in the Premier League this season and will be the man to provide the midfield thrust for Wales.

At the other end, we have the ever dependent Wayne Rooney.

The 30-year-old struggled for form as a centre-forward this season but seems to be growing into a deeper role for both club and country.

Despite many doubts, Rooney was outstanding for England in their opening fixture against Russia with a pass completion rate of 88% and a dribble success of 89%.

England v Russia - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

Both teams like to build up play gradually and thus the midfield battle assumes extra importance.

Ashley Williams vs Harry Kane

Ashley Williams has established himself as one of the most reliable defenders in the Premier League.

Williams has been extremely consistent for in recent seasons and was key in Swansea's survival from relegation this term. At six feet tall, the bulky Welshman dominates attackers out of the park and isn't afraid of throwing himself in front of the ball. His leadership will be key in a tense encounter such as this one.

The man facing Williams will probably be Harry Kane.

England v Russia - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

The Tottenham man has excelled this season netting an astonishing tally of 25 goals in the league campaign and becoming the first English player to win the Golden Boot ever since Kevin Phillips won it in the 1999/00 season with Sunderland.

Kane was one of the victims to suffer criticism after England's opening draw with Russia and will be under extra pressure to find the back of the net against the Welsh to keep his place in the side.

Despite his phenomenal record this year, one of the few teams Kane failed to score against was Williams' Swansea City, making their individual battle all the more interesting.

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Topics:
Wayne Rooney
Gareth Bale
Euro 2016
England Football
Football
Aaron Ramsey
Ashley Williams
Chris Smalling

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