England vs. Wales Through The Ages
June 03, 2016
On the 16th June, home nations England and Wales will meet in Lens during the second range of qualifying matches to determine who will progress from Group B. While the focus will be on qualification and earning a place in the latter stages of the tournament, however, this is also another significant game in a long and illustrious rivalry between two countries that have been competing for more than a century.
England vs. Wales through the ages: A fascinating history
Back in 1879, Wales played their third international match and first against England at the Kennington Oval in London. In the 137 years since, England have earned a total of 68 wins from 103 matches against Wales, drawing 21 and losing just 14 in total. It will therefore come as no surprise that the Three Lions are heavy favourites to continue their winning run against the Welsh, even accounting for the fact that the Dragons can currently call upon genuinely world class talent in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.
This game should also be seen as a revival of this great rivalry, as the two nations have met just four times in three decades since this the disbandment of the British Home Championship (which ran for 100 years until 1984). 1984 was also the year in which the Welsh last recorded a win against their bitter rivals, with former Manchester United striker Mark Hughes netting the only goal on his debut at Wrexham.
In fact, the Three Lions have won the four games played since without conceding a goal. The first of these came after a 20 year hiatus and during the qualification campaign for the 2006 World Cup, when England defeated the Dragons 2-0 at home and 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Results followed a similar course during qualifying for Euro 2012, as England followed up a 2-0 win in Cardiff in March 2011 with a decisive 1-0 victory at Wembley six months later. Manchester United winger Ashley Young struck the winner in this encounter, making him the last player to score in the fixture.
Will England prevail in the 104th clash between the two sides?
While nearly five years has passed since the sides last met, very little has changed from a media perspective. England remain firm favourites to win the game and finish ahead of Wales in the group, although Chris Coleman’s men are fancied to at least qualify for the knock-out stages. With the Three Lions unbeaten in qualifying and boasting some star performers, few would bet against them securing win number 69 in the 104th clash between the two sides.
Not since Ryan Giggs have Wales had a match-winner in the mould of Gareth Bale, however, while the guile and goal-threat offered by Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey also adds to one of the best Welsh squads in living memory. Given this and England’s disappointing recent history at major tournaments, this may be the year that the Welsh finally end a 32-year hoodoo and beat their rivals.