Saturday saw England’s first Euro 2016 game end with an undeserved 1-1 draw with Russia.

Despite seemingly having full control throughout the game, one little lapse cost England the three points, making Thursday’s game against Wales even bigger.

Player Ratings:

  • Joe Hart-6
  • Kyle Walker-7
  • Chris Smalling-6
  • Gary Cahill-6
  • Danny Rose-6
  • Eric Dier-8
  • Wayne Rooney-8 MOTM
  • Dele Alli-6
  • Adam Lallana-6
  • Harry Kane-5
  • Raheem Sterling-5

First Half:

The first half saw a pretty solid start. Adam Lallana had numerous half-chances which lacked conviction whilst Chris Smalling’s tame header was easily saved.

Within these chances, England were playing some really good, flowing football with Wayne Rooney bossing the midfield in what was his first game in an England shirt playing in such a position.

Meanwhile, the Russians didn’t pose much of a threat on Joe Hart in what was an easy half on his part.

Second Half:

The second half started with the same essence of what the first half gave us, England controlling the ball.

The Russians came out with a bit more about them and had a 5-10 minute spell of pressure.

A lackluster clearance by a Russian centre-half saw Wayne Rooney place a shot into the bottom left corner to which to everyone’s amazement, was saved onto the bar by Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev.

But there was nothing Akinfeev could do about Eric Dier’s free-kick in the 73rd minute as an excellent free-kick saw Dier score his second goal for England as Hodgson’s side took a deserved 1-0 lead.

With the game looking won, Roy Hodgson took Rooney off with 12 minutes to go, which seemed to have changed something.

Rooney was the best player on the pitch and is the most experienced player in the side and just like Roy’s decision to bring James Milner on, perhaps wasn’t the smartest thing to do.

England had pace on the bench in the form of Jamie Vardy who should’ve replaced Harry Kane, so England could then switch tactics and see the game out, knowing that any clearance up the pitch, Vardy could’ve latched onto.

Then came the bitter blow, a Russian corner was cleared seemingly well until poor closing down by Alli and Milner saw the Russians launch a ball into the box and big centre-half Vasili Berezutski out-jumped Danny Rose and looped a header over Hart to give his team a very much undeserved equalizer.

What do we change for Wales on Thursday?

Although England played well, the system needs a bit of tweaking.

Wales play with three central defenders meaning Harry Kane on his own up top won’t do the Three Lions any favours.

To suit England better, reverting to the 4-4-2 diamond would give Hodgson’s men a better chance in this huge game.

To make up for the extra man in midfield, Jack Wilshere’s energy and ability to create and break up play would give England so much more.

From the team that played against Russia, Hodgson must drop Lallana and Sterling who didn’t offer us that much, to bring in Vardy and Wilshere for the Wales game.

The big thing for this system to work is that the two who will be on the outer sides of the diamond will need to help the full backs in making sure that Wales’ wing backs don’t have as much freedom as they did in their game against Slovakia.

Rooney must keep his place in midfield alongside Wilshere and he and Rooney will need to put in a shift to protect Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.

Harry Kane needs to stop taking corners and free kicks.

England are a relatively small side and he simply has to be in the box for set pieces.

Who knows what Roy sees in training but for England’s chances of causing a threat he needs to be in the box.

Against Russia, Kane didn’t have a single touch in the box, put Rooney on set pieces!

Starting XI For Wales:

Hart, Walker, Smalling, Cahill, Rose, Dier, Rooney, Wilshere, Alli, Vardy, Kane (4-4-2 diamond)

Huge game Thursday, let’s hope England do everyone proud.