EURO 2016: Welsh star Gareth Bale expects ‘British-type’ showdown with Northern Ireland in Paris

Wales star Gareth Bale
Wales star Gareth Bale
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Welsh star Gareth Bale is expecting a “British-type” clash with Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

Group B winners Wales are preparing to meet Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland, one of the tournament’s four best third-placed teams, in the last 16 and find themselves in what is seen as the easiest half of the draw in France.

Belgium would be expected to meet the winners of Saturday’s game in the last eight, while Croatia are potential semi-final opponents in a tournament which now looks extremely open.

Bale insists his full focus is on Wales’ meeting with Northern Ireland, and is predicting a tough test at the Parc des Princes.

The two sides drew 1-1 in a Cardiff friendly in March ahead of the Euros.

But Wales were severely depleted by injury that night with Bale and Aaron Ramsey among the absentees.

“At this stage no matter who you get it is not going to be an easy game,” said Bale.

“We’re happy to be in the round of 16, whether it’s against a team that normally wins like Spain or Germany, or a newer one like Northern Ireland.

“We obviously know more about Northern Ireland than Albania or Turkey and we are happy with the draw.

“It will be a British-type game and it will be difficult.

“But if we can match the performance against Russia we have a very good chance.”

He added: “Obviously you come to the tournament for one reason.

“To win. Not to play three games and go home. The ultimate goal is we want to try and win the tournament.

“Yes, we would love to win it, but all our focus now is on Northern Ireland.

“Until that whistle goes and we’re through we can’t think about it a second before.

“We can’t think about Belgium. We know our side of the draw.

“Maybe it is more favourable. But it is not favourable if you don’t get through.”