England have the upper hand historically, with 68 wins to Wales’ 14 and 21 previous matches ending in a draw. None of the previous clashes have taken place in as far-flung a location as the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha.
Here’s six of the best clashes from one of football’s oldest rivalries.
1. England 2-1 Wales, 18 January 1879, Kennington Oval, London
The first meeting between the oldest (England) and third (Wales) oldest football associations in the world took place not at Wembley or Cardiff’s Principality Stadium but Kennington Oval- now a historic cricket ground. Wales scored their first ever goal through William Davies, but lost to their more experienced opponents in front of 200 fans. Two years later, in 1881, the Welshmen would record their first victory against the English. A rivalry was born.
2. Wales 4-2 England, British Home Championship, 22 October 1938, Ninian Park, Cardiff
George Green had already lived a storied life. in 1935, the right half become the first Welshman to play in Spain, turning out for Espanyol in Barcelona. But his time in Spain was cut short: Green returned to the UK to marry but found himself stuck due to the Spanish Civil War. Just a week before this clash with England, Green’s son tragically died. He decided to play the game in front of his wife in the stands, believing it would be beneficial for her. Alongside his teammates, Green helped Wales to victory against an England team lauded as the best in the world, after beating Germany 6-3 in Berlin in front of a watching Adolf Hitler in May that year. The result was no surprise to the 55,000 Welsh supporters there that day: their team had won the Home Championship three times already during the 1930s.
3. England 0-1 Wales, British Home Championship, 31 May 1977, Wembley, London
While Wales recorded a famous victory in England, this match will be remembered for much more than the football. The English FA refused to play the Welsh anthem – Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau - but as the band’s instruments stayed silent, captain Terry Yorath and his team stood their ground and sang the stirring song on their own. Watch out for the Red Wall - the name given to Wales’ passionate fans - signing the anthem in the native Welsh language in Qatar.
4. Wales 4- 1 England, British Home Championship, 17 May 1980, Racecourse Ground, Wrexham
England travelled full of confidence to the Racecourse – the oldest international ground in the world still in use, and now home to Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s club, Wrexham AFC. Ron Greenwood’s players had just beaten Diego Maradona’s Argentina 3-1 and hadn’t lost in Wales for 25 years. But the exciting Welsh team put four goals past Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence to claim a famous victory in the glorious Welsh sunshine. Look out for Welsh fans wearing the distinctive red and white retro Adidas shirts from the match in the stands in Qatar.
5. England 1-0 Wales, Euro 2012 qualifier, 6 September 2011, Wembley, London
An Ashley Young goal won this encounter for an England team featuring Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and John Terry. Gary Speed, the Welsh manager and former Premier League record appearance holder, would die less than three months after the final whistle, but his time in the job was the catalyst for the nation’s subsequent success. Yma o hyd, you sons of Speed.
6. England 2-1 Wales, Euro 2016, 16 June 2016, Lens, France
Welsh legend Gareth Bale put the Welsh ahead with a rasping free-kick from 30 yards, before England scored an injury time winner. But Wales had the last laugh: despite the defeat, Bale and co topped Group B and weaved their way to the semi-finals. England were defeated by Iceland in the next round. Wales’ Red Wall received an outstanding contribution award from UEFA for their incredible support. We’ll all be hoping for a similar journey in the FIFA World Cup 2022.