Bale aims to bounce back, fire Wales to last 16

Date published: Saturday 18th June 2016 4:29

Gareth Bale plans to have an even greater influence at Euro 2016 and fire Wales into the knock-out stages.

Bale has already scored twice in the tournament – with trademark free-kicks against Slovakia and England – but his chances in open play have been limited.

The Real Madrid forward was often an isolated figure during the 2-1 defeat to England in Lens as Roy Hodgson’s side dominated possession before coming up with a late winner.

But Bale expects Wales to impose themselves more against Russia in Toulouse on Monday night as they go in search of the point which will probably be enough to book their place in the last 16.

“It’s a new experience for the whole team, it’s maybe a little bit different to what we’re used to,” said Bale.

“We’ve spoken about when we’re on the ball… we need to be better, more relaxed, move the ball like we have been in qualifying.

“Maybe we haven’t done that as much and that’s an area we need to improve.

“We’ve defended amazingly but, if we can get the ball down and play more, hopefully I can influence it a bit more.”

Bale insists Wales have already moved on from the heartbreak of losing to England in stoppage time.

Daniel Sturridge’s strike saw England leapfrog Wales at the top of Group B, setting up what is sure to be a nervy night in Toulouse.

Asked about how long he had thought about the England game, Bale quipped: “What England game?

“Obviously after the game we were very disappointed, especially to lose in that manner.

“But we have to forget about it. It’s over.

“Our fate is in our own hands, and if you’d given us this at the start of the tournament we would have taken it.

“We have it all to play for and we’re still very excited.

“The nation’s behind us as normal, we’ll try to embrace the occasion and try to qualify.”

Bale was a 15-year-old schoolboy when Russia beat Wales in a Euro 2004 play-off at Cardiff.

He said he was at the Millennium Stadium that night with his father and friends and still remembers the occasion vividly.

But he added: “That was the past and this is now.

“No one’s even thinking of that experience, we want to go in with a fresh mind.

“We all know it’s been a long time since Wales qualified, but we want to better that and give it a go.

“It would mean everything to us to make the last 16 and hopefully we can grab the chance.

“We want to play like we’ve been doing and try to get the win.”

Russia have had an extra day to prepare as their game with Slovakia was played on Wednesday afternoon.

But Bale said he was not bothered by the lack of preparation time as Wales know their system so well.

“We’re not going to have too long on the training field, but we’ve done all that work prior to coming away,” he said.

“We’ve had a similar system now for the last few years and the main thing is the recovery and getting ready for the game.

“It’s like when you’re at your club and the games come thick and fast.

“The main thing is to keep ticking over and make sure you’re fresh for the game.”

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