Most football rivalries are built on geographic location, politics and cultural differences and, at times, can be fierce. England vs Wales contains all those perquisites of that sort of rivalry. For some, the fixture is less about bragging rights and more about national identity.
The Welsh fans are particularly proud of their sporting heroes. In recent years, the Dragons have punched above their weight in the international sporting arena. Considering that there is a population of just over 3 million people in Wales, they have a decent recent record in international football.
Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup was a massive achievement for Robert Page’s team, especially as football takes a back seat to Wales’s national sport of rugby. They will feature at just their second-ever World Cup and their first since 1958.
The fact that Wales will face neighbours England in the group stages will add to the excitement of the World Cup for the Welsh fans.
In terms of sheer population and size, England dwarfs their neighbours. The rivalry is arguably less fierce from the English side, as the Three Lions have several teams that they probably consider bigger rivals, such as Germany and Argentina.
The History Of The Fixture
The first officially recognised game between England came way back in 1879, which was a friendly international won by England 2-1. The Three Lions dominated the early meetings between the two teams, and Wales only recorded two victories in the first 36 international meetings.
Wales’s first international victory over England came in Blackburn in a 1-0 friendly win. The Dragons also won the next game between the two teams, recording a famous 5-3 victory at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground.
In fact, victories have proven thin on the ground for Wales against England, as they have claimed just 14 wins over their neighbours in 109 meetings. England has recorded 68 wins, with 21 games finishing in draws. It’s fair to say that the Three Lions have dominated the fixture.
On the international stage, neither team has covered themselves in glory when it comes to tournament success. England’s only-ever triumph came back on home soil in the World Cup in 1966. Considering the talent that has been available to the various different coaches throughout the years, they have arguably underachieved in international football.
The Talisman: Harry Kane vs Gareth Bale
Throughout the years, both countries have had fantastic players who have made significant contributions to their national teams. Currently, both teams have a talisman, with Harry Kane being England’s main man, while Wales’s key player is Gareth Bale.
Kane has scored 51 goals in his 76 appearances for England, with the Tottenham forward being England’s second-highest goalscorer, just three goals behind record goalscorer Wayne Rooney. The experienced forward could well surplus Rooney before the 2022 World Cup is over, depending on how far Gareth Southgate’s team progress in Qatar.
The 29-year-old has yet to win any silverware during his career, and he will be desperate to help England win an international tournament before he hangs his boots up.
Bale has, without a doubt, been Wales’s most important player in recent decades, some would say the former Real Madrid star is the most influential player in the history of the Welsh national team.
He has, at times, dragged his team to victories and seems to pop up exactly when his team needs him. A case in point is his equaliser against the USA in Wales’s first game of the World Cup.
Bale is Wales’ top goalscorer, with 41 goals in his 109 international appearances for the Dragons. Unlike previous former Welsh heroes such as the likes of Neville Southall, Ian Rush and Mark Hughes, the veteran forward has had a chance to prove himself at major tournaments, having helped his team qualify for them. If Wales are to progress at World Cup 2022, then Bale will have to be at his best during the tournament.
Clash Again At Qatar 2022
The two teams will meet on Tuesday, 29th November, in the final game of Group B of the World Cup. Depending on the results of their games on Friday in gameweek two, the clash could be vital in who qualifies for the competition’s knockout stages.
England have already recorded a 6-2 victory over Iran, while Wales drew their opening game 1-1 against the USA, with Bale scoring a potentially vital equaliser from the penalty spot. The point kept the Dragons in a healthy position to qualify for the last 16 of the competition.
Unfortunately for Wales, they have lost their last six matches against the Three Lions while scoring just one goal. They will have to up their game to pick up anything from the latest encounter and improve their overall record in the rivalry.