Euro 2016

Steve Davis fully expecting a fiesty affair with Wales

 The Northern Ireland skipper is not expecting either team to hold back
Picture by PA
Liam Blackburn in Paris

Captain Steven Davis has promised Northern Ireland will be fired up for tonight’s Euro 2016 meeting with Wales, even if he thinks the clash lacks the spice of other ‘home nations’ fixtures.

Twelve years ago three men were sent off inside 22 minutes in an explosive match between the two sides at the Millennium Stadium in front of a 60,000-plus crowd that created an intense atmosphere.

It was rather more serene in March when the countries drew 1-1 in the same city having both already reached the European Championship finals for the first time in their history.

Those achievements helped breed admiration rather than animosity, though Davis is in no doubt that emotions will be running high with a place in the quarter-finals on the line in Paris.

“I think both sets of players will be extremely pumped up because of what’s riding on it and what’s at stake,” Davis said.

“There’s a lot of similarities with the two teams in terms of progress over the last couple of years. It probably will have an edge because of what’s riding on it, both sets of fans have been magnificent and both sets of players believe we can progress. It’s going to be a great opportunity, and one we’re looking forward to.

“I think there’s a respect for each other as countries. There will definitely be an edge but maybe not that rivalry.”

The Parc des Princes is a familiar setting for the Northern Irish as they were there earlier this week for a 1-0 loss to the world champions Germany.

Although it was a group game, Davis does not expect to meet a more superior foe in the tournament now it has reached the knock-out stage.

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“We’re not going to face a tougher game than that against better quality players,” the Southampton midfielder added.

“It was a real test for us here – some things we did well, some things we could improve on. The scoreline got us through.

“We’re familiar with the stadium. The fans created an unbelievable atmosphere which they will do again. The players are really looking forward to it.

“We don’t need any extra motivation, we’re loving the journey we’re on and hopefully tomorrow night when the final whistle goes we’re all celebrating.”

 Northern Ireland's trip to France so far...

Euro 2016

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