GARETH Bale admits he’s expecting a few kicks this afternoon after a week of verbal sparring with the England players and management.

Bale caused a stir by claiming Wales have more ‘pride and passion’ than their Euro 2016 Group B rivals and followed that up by claiming none of Roy Hodgson’s squad would get into the Welsh starting XI.

The Real Madrid star insists he has not said anything out of the ordinary but he’s relaxed about the media attention and confident that he and his Wales teammates can back their claims on the pitch in Lens.

Asked if he was anticipating some rough treatment from the likes of Gary Cahill and Eric Dier when the sides meet today, Bale said: “That’s normal, anyway. You always get it. I don’t think I’ve said anything bad, to be honest.

“It’s just my opinion. Other people have said ‘can people match Wales’ passion?’ It’s normal. My opinion is that we have more passion than most.

“That’s what our country is about – being passionate, being proud to play for Wales. I don’t think I’ve said anything wrong.

“We grow up watching the rugby and football and when we put on the shirt there is no bigger honour for us,” he added.

“You can see when we sang the national anthem [before the 2-1 win over Slovakia] it was absolutely ridiculous.

“Everyone was gripping each other in the line. There were goosebumps and everyone was crying on the pitch after.

“That is just wales. We play for the shirt and dragon. We give everything we’ve got.”

Wales’ main focus this afternoon will be on gaining at least a point, which should put them into the next stage, but playing England adds an extra edge to the occasion.

No Welsh side has beaten or even scored against the Three Lions since 1984 and Bale wants to avenge the 1-0 defeat at Wembley in 2011 – the last time the two old rivals met.

“When we analysed that game we realised we should have won it,” said Bale. “We felt we were the better side over the whole game.

“They are a good team and they had their moments. But we felt like we played very well. I think we missed an open goal – Earnie [Robert Earnshaw] might have missed one towards the end.

“We did have our chances, but we didn’t take them on that day. So, the belief is there. We have played well against England before, but haven’t won.

“I think we are a better team now and more experienced. I think we have a great chance of winning.”

South Wales Argus: