Wales forward Gareth Bale has cranked up the pressure on Group B rivals England as the two teams prepare for their crunch Euro 2016 clash in Lens on Thursday.
Bale last week suggested that England “big themselves up before they’ve done anything”, which prompted a retort from Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson who suggested the Welshman was being “disrespectful”.
Former Tottenham player Bale has denied that he is engaging in mind games but revelled in getting a rise from their opponents’ camp, and proceeded to assert that Wales are not overawed by the prospect of facing England.
“It’s good that they bit,” said Bale, whose side sit top of Group B, two points clear of England who drew with Russia in their opening match.
“People can say what they want. Someone said I disrespected England, which wasn’t the case. I never said that they didn’t have passion and pride, I just feel that we have more.
“For me there are no mind games. Nothing’s fazing us, we don’t feel any pressure, we just want to enjoy the occasion. It’s going to be a derby, a big atmosphere. We know that, we’re ready for it, we’re going to enjoy it.”
Bale, who scored Wales’s opening goal in their 2-1 win over Slovakia on Saturday, poked further fun at England by joking that no member of Hodgson’s squad would get into Chris Coleman’s starting XI.
“None,” he quipped when asked. “If they feel they have the better squad, good for them. We know they’re a bigger nation with more players to choose from from, but we’ve closed the gap massively.
“They’re a good team and, I’m sure if they put in a good performance, they’ll feel they can beat us. But we’re exactly the same. If we work well as a team, we feel we can win.”