Euro 2016: Where Wales v Northern Ireland will be won and lost

By Chris BevanBBC Sport in Paris
Wales manager Chris Coleman and Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill
Wales boss Chris Coleman and Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill are one victory away from the last eight. The winner's team will play Belgium or Hungary
Wales v Northern Ireland
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris Date: 25 June Kick-off: 17:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC TV One, S4C, BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website and app

Wales play Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday with a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 at stake - but which home nation will prevail at Parc des Princes?

Former Wales striker Dean Saunders talks tactics from a Welsh perspective, while ex-Northern Ireland captain Neil Lennon gives the Green and White view.

'It will be like a boxing match - both teams will just jab and move'

Wales players revelling in Euros - Chris Coleman

Dean Saunders: Tactically, it is going to be very interesting to watch - neither team will want to open up.

I can see it being like a boxing match where they both jab and move, probing for openings. They will not be going toe-to-toe, leaving themselves open and exchanging lots of big punches.

The worry for Wales is that Northern Ireland are really good at set-plays, and we conceded a few before the tournament started - including in our 1-1 friendly draw in March when Craig Cathcart scored for them from a corner.

Highlights: Wales 1-1 N Ireland

They are going to play a big part on Saturday too, because Northern Ireland will just sit back and wait for an opening. We just have to make sure we don't fall for it.

We will be working on defending free-kicks and corners during the week - but the most important thing during the game will be cutting them off at source.

I think the stats will tell you that something like 65% of international games are decided on set-plays and, if you give away more than 16 free-kicks in your own half, you almost always concede from one of them.

So, we have to restrict their opportunities to single figures by not giving away fouls in those areas. The players will have to remember that when they are out on the pitch because it is set-pieces that are their best chance of scoring.

Euro 2016: Mark Lawrenson picks his team of the group stage

Going forward, it goes without saying that Gareth Bale could be the difference between the two sides. Along with Aaron Ramsey, Bale did not play in that friendly game in Cardiff and the Real Madrid star is the difference between us being an ordinary team and a force.

Bale will have not have the same space to run into as he did in our win against Russia - but he will still be our biggest weapon.

It will be a close game but we should win it, and I think we will win it - our target now should be the semi-finals.

The Wales manager Chris Coleman and his players will not think like that, but I am going to say let's aim for the last four because I am not getting carried away when I say we are doing as well as any team in the tournament.

'Wales found their mojo against Russia'

Neil Lennon: Wales really found their mojo in their win against Russia so it is going to be difficult for Northern Ireland - but winning this tie is nowhere near insurmountable.

We will just have to be extremely disciplined defensively to stifle them and Michael O'Neill might make special arrangements for Bale.

There are a few players who could sit on him - Aaron Hughes, Paddy McNair or maybe even Chris Baird. We have got options, but it depends whom Michael goes with in his midfield three and how much Tuesday's final group game against Germany took out of the players.

Michael McGovern was Northern Ireland's man of the match against Germany

The upside is that we will be confident that we can hurt Wales as well. I would certainly hope it will not be as one-sided as that Germany game was, and there are ways we can get at them.

As well as our set-plays, which have produced so many goals, we are strong down our flanks and that could be a key area because Wales like to get their wing-backs forward.

I have a feeling the battle in the centre of midfield might get a bit saturated, and then we will need our wide players - Jamie Ward and Stuart Dallas - to get the upper hand.

NI boss O'Neill believes the knockout format of the last 16 will suit Northern Ireland

Whatever happens, it is going to be tight - I can actually see it going all the way to extra time and even penalties.

Both sets of players will look at the game as one they can win, which is part of what makes it such an intriguing tie.

Bale is the stand-out player of course, and they look stronger in most areas, but we are solid and I think the win is up for grabs.

I know some Welsh people are very confident of a win but I would not write Northern Ireland off.

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