11 June - Slovakia (5pm GMT, Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
In a tournament containing some dark horses among the usual suspects, Wales will be hoping to defy the odds once more as Barney Lloyd-Wood explains.
A qualifying campaign to remember meant that Wales are preparing for their first ever European Championships. With memorable wins over Israel and Belgium, as well as an all-time high ranking of 8th in the FIFA rankings at one point, a mix of flair and defensive stubbornness showed the rest of Europe there’s more to Wales than Bale.
Coach: Swansea-born Chris Coleman took the job under unfortunate circumstances following the death of Garry Speed. After a tough few years, he will go into legend after comfortably guiding Wales to an international tournament.
Preferred XI: Hennessey; Williams, Davies, Chester; Taylor, Richards, Ramsey, Allen, King; Bale, Robson-Kanu
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey stick out in a team centred around team ethic and structure. Much in particular has been made of the performances of the Real Madrid winger if Wales are to progress from a tricky group. While his goal was decisive in a decisive match against Belgium, much emphasis will be placed on Ashley Williams to keep some of Europe’s finest talents from breaking down a dogged Welsh defence.
Keep an eye on: It is worth keeping an eye on the differences in tactics and formation in each game. When Coleman’s side are aware of the gap in man-for-man quality (such as the Belgium game) the shape is rigid and the set up is particularly cagey and counterattack-based. When the Reds smell blood, they play with some expansive play, looking to Bale and Ramsey to pick defences apart.
Did you know
…Slovakia- P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 F 6 A 7
…England P 97 W 14 D 21 L 62 F 90 A 239
…Russia P 4 W 0 D 1 L 3 F 2 A 6
Population: 3 million
Nickname: The Reds, The Dragons
Calcio fans might remember… John Charles - Juventus (1957-1962)
Top Division: Welsh Premier League (Swansea City and Cardiff City have both played in the English Premier League)
FIFA World Ranking: 24
International honours: None
Most capped player: Neville Southall (92)
Leading international scorer: Ian Rush (28)
Wales at the European Championships:
1960 - Did not enter
1964 - Did not qualify
1968 - Did not qualify
1972 - Did not qualify
1976 - Did not qualify
1980 - Did not qualify
1984 - Did not qualify
1988 - Did not qualify
1992 - Did not qualify
1996 - Did not qualify
2000 - Did not qualify
2004 - Did not qualify
2008 - Did not qualify
2012 - Did not qualify
How they got to the European Championships: Wales qualified for their first European Championship finishing second in their group behind Belgium. A 2-0 defeat away at Bosnia still saw The Dragons qualify after Cyprus beat Israel.