EURO 2016: Michael O’Neill relishing massive battle with Wales in Paris

Kyle Lafferty gets off the team bus and onto the plane for the flight to Paris ahead of their game against Wales
Kyle Lafferty gets off the team bus and onto the plane for the flight to Paris ahead of their game against Wales
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Michael O’Neill claims Northern Ireland and Wales will serve up a “good old-fashioned British game” in the French capital and he wants his players to feed off the hype surrounding the last-16 tie.

The two sides, who are both debutants in the tournament, meet for a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 at the Parc des Princes in a game which will be officiated by England’s Martin Atkinson.

Coleman’s team have already faced a home nation in France in the shape of England and he has urged his players not to get caught up in the emotional aspect of another fixture against near neighbours.

Yet O’Neill refuted the notion he would do the same, insisting instead that such an atmosphere must act as a catalyst.

“I want my team to play with loads of emotion; I want them to fully understand the significance of the game,” he said.

“When you look at our performances, especially in the latter two games, you couldn’t question the effort of the team from the first minute to the last minute.

“I don’t think you can play without emotion. I don’t expect my team to and I think it will be a big factor in the game tomorrow night.

“It will be like a cup tie, but whether it’s like a Premier League team going to a Championship team...that’s irrelevant.

“We have an English referee and we want everything that is good about the British game in it.”

In contrast, Wales boss Coleman has played down the derby hype surrounding the game.

“When you get too emotional - and don’t get me wrong you need a bit of emotion - then your plans go out of the window,” the Welsh manager said.