Gareth Bale was at the centre of the mind games ahead of England’s massive clash with Wales.
The Real Madrid superstar made numerous comments to stir things up ahead of the mammoth match in Lens. He certainly talked the talk, but could he walk the walk?
This week, he claimed that Chris Coleman’s side have “more pride and passion” than England, while claiming the Three Lions “big themselves up before they’ve done anything.”
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But Bale didn’t stop there. When asked how many English players would get in the Wales side, he replied “none.”
But, come Thursday at 2pm, it was time for the 26-year-old to do his talking on the pitch.
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And he certainly did in the 42nd minute. Bale lined up a 35-yard free-kick which found its way past Joe Hart to give Wales the lead heading into the break.
Suddenly, Bale’s comments were ringing true.
But, his words soon came back to haunt him.
After Roy Hodgson made a double substitution at half-time - bringing Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge on for Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane - England dominated proceedings.
They got their reward 11 minutes into the second-half when Vardy capitalised on a loose ball. Just when it looked as though Wales would hold out for a valuable point, Daniel Sturridge prodded the ball home in the 92nd minute to spark wild scenes.
It was as though the England fans, players and members of the staff wanted to prove Bale wrong with their celebrations as they were as passionate as they could possibly be. Even coach Gary Neville sprinted down the touchline to join in.
And it’s fair to say the England fans were delighted that Bale had been made to regret his pre-match comments. They absolutely destroyed him on Twitter - plus a cheeky Instagram from Phil Neville. Here are some of the best tweets:
The win puts England top of Group B heading into the final round of fixtures where they take on Slovakia on Monday.
As for Wales, they know a point could be enough to secure second place but they will be aiming to beat Russia to give them a chance of winning the group.
After the match, Bale said, per the BBC: "The tournament's not over yet, we're still in the thick of it.
"We'll go into the next game [against Russia] with even more strength."
Maybe Bale should just do his talking on the pitch next time before getting involved in the mind games.
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