Having entered the Euros as one of the favourites, England head into game two knowing that anything less than three points will put them in danger of failing to qualify for the knockout rounds. And to make things more interesting, they’ll be facing off against their neighbours, Wales.
With most of the Wales team playing in the Premier League, it means club teammates will be facing off against each other, and Liverpool’s Adam Lallana says he’s ready to go head to head in midfield with Joe Allen and hopes that having so many players on each side who are friends at the club level will give the match a little something extra for the fans.
"I have a few friends and teammates in Wales who play for Liverpool," said Lallana. "There’s something special about the game. There is a British feel. It will be good for neutrals watching the match, and it's a pivotal game in the group. We know we need a good result, but we have big players in our team who are used to dealing with pressure. We thrive on that.
"There is a rivalry there with Wales. There are plenty of rivalries in football and plenty of friendships within those rivalries. There is great respect among the players, and that is good to see. It’s business on the pitch and then go back to being friends. It’s special when players know each other so well from club football."
Along with something special on the pitch, Lallana is hoping for passion from the fans off it—but without any of the ugliness that marked England’s 1-1 draw with Russia in the opener, and which has seen the Russians handed a suspended disqualification by UEFA. It’s a situation that, with their own friends and families in the stands, the England players are keeping a close eye on.
"As players, we’ve discussed a little bit the scenes off the pitch," Lallana noted. "We have to hope the security is there and trust everyone to do their job. I have friends and family coming to the game. Our message to everyone is to be safe and sensible, and to be respectful when supporting your country."