Chris Coleman Gareth Bale Wales
Chris Coleman will bank on Gareth Bales to deliver for Wales, yet again, when they play Northern Ireland in a Euro 2016 last 16 clash. Pictured: Coleman congratulates Bale after the latter is substituted during the 3-0 win over Russia, June 20, 2016Reuters

Gareth Bale and his Wales team will want to make full use of the opportunity presented to them in the last 16, when they face off against fellow home nation Northern Ireland in Euro 2016 on Saturday. With a quarterfinal place and potential history from there at stake, Wales will need to show how they respond to being the overwhelming favourites in this knockout tie in Paris.

Wales did brilliantly to top a group that also had England, Slovakia and Russia, and that is despite going down to an agonising late goal to their neighbours. The way they responded to the defeat to England was fantastic, with Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, yet again, impressing in a 3-0 win over Russia.

Those three – part of three massive clubs in Real Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool – have been the major reason behind Wales' impressive performances in Euro 2016, and all three will need to be at their best against Northern Ireland, who showed their defensive nous in nearly shutting out world champions Germany.

This will be a different match for Wales, because they are likely to have the lion's share of the possession and come up against a unit with plenty of players behind the ball. How they manage to manoeuvre past those banks of four will decide if they will make it to the quarterfinals without too much trouble.

In order to help Wales solve the Northern Ireland puzzle, Chris Coleman might consider making a change to his starting lineup, with the key decision, again being who will play up front – Hal Robson-Kanu or Sam Vokes. Robson-Kanu started the second match – the 2-1 loss to England – while Vokes was on from the start in the 3-0 win over Russia. Jonny Williams was named in the opening match of Euro 2016 for Wales, with Bale starting up front, and Coleman could consider going back to that option.

The rest of the lineup is unlikely to change, though, with Allen set to partner Joe Ledley in midfield again, while Ramsey will continue to do his energiser bunny impression.

Who will play up front for Northern Ireland in the starting XI against Wales also remains another big question, with Kyle Lafferty losing his place to Conor Washington. Considering the importance of this game and what is at stake, Michael O'Neill, the manager, might just go back to Lafferty, who has a bit more of that physical presence combined with the cutting edge that could prove to be vital against Wales.

The rest of the team, though, is expected to be the same, with Michael McGovern, after a brilliant display against Germany, no doubt, needed to be at his best again to keep Bale, Ramsey and co. out.

Confirmed starting XI: Wales: Hennessey; Gunter, Chester, Williams, Davies, Taylor; Allen, Ledley; Ramsey, Bale; Vokes.

Northern Ireland: McGovern; Hughes, McAuley, Cathcart, J Evans; Ward, Evans, Davis, Norwood, Dallas; Lafferty.

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