Wales forward Gareth Bale is ready to exploit England’s weaknesses in Thursday’s Euro 2016 Group B clash in Lens and stands by his claim that his teammates have more passion than the English.
The Real Madrid player will be Wales’ key man as they try to beat England for the first time since 1984 and much of the build-up to the game has been focused on him.
England manager Roy Hodgson said Bale had been ‘disrespectful’ after he suggested in an interview that Wales have more passion than their English counterparts.
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere responded to Bale’s comments by saying England have a better squad.
“We know they have strengths and they’re a very good team,” a smiling Bale told a news conference.
“We know their strengths but we also know their weaknesses -- but I’m obviously not going to tell you them at the moment!
“We will do our homework and try to exploit those weaknesses.”
Asked about the response from the England camp to his comments, Bale said: “I never said they didn’t have passion or pride, but it’s my opinion that we have more.
“People like to take things out of context but I stand by my comments. If people feel I was being disrespectful... I wasn’t.
“But whatever sport it is, whether it’s football, rugby..., I feel that we always take it to the next level.”
Bale’s importance to Wales cannot be overstated.
Of the 11 goals Chris Coleman’s squad scored in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Bale netted seven and created two.
He scored their opening goal in the 2-1 defeat of Slovakia in their Euro 2016 opener in Bordeaux on Saturday.
However, he said Wales’ team ethic, not his own performance, is all that matters in game he describes as a derby.
Bale added that he would do whatever Coleman asked him to -- even take corners like England striker Harry Kane has surprisingly been doing for his country.
“If the manager asks me to take a corner, I’ll take a corner. But I’m not too bothered about England. This is about Wales,” he said.
“I’m fully for the team. If I have to do extra running for a teammate, I’ll do it. If I don’t get a kick to make space for a teammate, I’ll do that.”