Coming off a disappointing result but sitting second in the group, Wales can extend its first venture in Euro 2016 by beating an equally motivated Russia in Group B action Monday at Stadium Municipal in Toulouse, France.
The Welsh, thanks to Gareth Bale’s expert shooting, sit above third-place Slovakia and fourth-place Russia and can overtake England for first in the group to make the next round much easier. However, England's result against Slovakia, occurring simultaneously in Toulouse, will play a huge role in Wales’ further endeavor in the tournament.
Bale almost single-handedly handed Wales its second victory of the tournament, firing off another free kick goal in the 42nd minute against England, however, the Three Lions’ Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy unleashed a goal apiece and claimed a 2-1 win.
Real Madrid’s Bale has netted two of Wales three goals during the tournament, and hindering his progress will be Russia’s top priority, while the Welsh will likely need more production from midfielder’s Aaron Ramsey and Joe Ledley to ease some pressure off of Bale.
As of now, Wales would advance, but locking in at least second place in the group is the goal. Manager Chris Coleman evidently isn’t placing too much pressure on his side.
"Everybody might look at this next game as the be all and end all, whether we progress or we don't, but it is not the end of the journey for this team. They have the potential to go on and on,” Coleman said. "I hope we do get what we need to progress in the tournament because these players have deserved success, and I hope that continues.
"We just have got to go out on the pitch again without any fear and express ourselves."
The Russian’s have just as much at stake but require a victory to climb out of the group’s doldrums. Manager Leonid Slutsky’s side tied England and suffered a poor 2-1 loss to Slovakia, picking up one point and facing elimination.
The matter becomes much more difficult with midfielder Oleg Shatov doubtful to play against Wales due to a groin injury, which forces Slutsky to likely start 34-year-old Roman Shirokov in his place.
"I don't think the experience of having been in a situation like this before will be decisive. There is no winning formula,” Slutsky said. "The games have been very tight and I expect fine margins to be decisive again, and I hope they go our way this time.
"I think it is hard to man-mark footballing superstars like Bale. He is a player who likes to roam around and pop up in different areas of the pitch. We will try to neutralize him by employing zonal marking."
Russia’s won three and had one draw in four all-time matches against the Welsh, including a 3-1 triumph during World Cup qualification in 2009.
Prediction: Wales over Russia, 2-0
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2 (USA); Russia 1, Belarus TV, Rossiya 24, Match TV Football 1 (Russia); ITV 4 UK, STV Scotland, S4C (Wales)
Live Stream: ESPN3