Gareth Bale has again stoked the fire between Wales and England by hailing the “moral victory” in topping Group B at Euro 2016 ahead of Roy Hodgson’s men.
Bale hit the headlines in the build-up to the sides’ encounter in Lens last Thursday by suggesting that no England player would get in the Wales team.
A last-gasp Daniel Sturridge goal saw England defeat their rivals 2-1 after Bale had netted the second of his three goals in the group stage, only for Hodgson’s side to then waste the opportunity to progress as pool winners by drawing 0-0 with Slovakia.
Wales took full advantage and a 3-0 win over Russia paved the way for a last-16 tie with Northern Ireland on Saturday, leaving Bale proud of the his team’s exploits.
Bale joked when he faced the media on Thursday: “You always like to make a headline off my comments!
“It’s a moral victory for us, some bragging rights. It’s always nice to finish above the English.”
Bale is expecting a “British type of game” when Wales face Northern Ireland, who progressed by virtue of being one of the best third-placed sides.
“Obviously we were watching the games to see who we got,” Bale said. “But at this stage of the tournament, no matter who we get it’s not going to be an easy game.
“We know a lot more about Northern Ireland than Turkey [who Wales could have faced at one stage in the last 16]. We’re happy, it’s a difficult game but one we think we can win. We will concentrate on ourselves as we usually do and take it from there.
“We’ve spoken in camp, we have no fear, it’s all about us, giving it 100 percent with no regrets. We’ll have that same attitude. We’re full of confidence after Russia and we’re looking forward to it. It’s another challenge to relish.
“We’re just happy to be in the round of 16, whether against a big country like Spain or Germany or Northern Ireland, we’re happy to be in this round, no matter who we played we knew it was going to be difficult.
“We know about them, but they will know us also. It will be a very British type of game and if we can match our performance against Russia we will have a very good chance.”
On Northern Ireland, Bale added: “They topped their group in qualifying, you don’t do that by mistake.
“They have similar spirit, work very hard, perhaps they’re a bit more defensive than us.
“They will be difficult to break down but we will give everything we have.”
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