The The first clash of the World Cup Battle of Britain will pit the neighbors against each other as millions tune in tonight to watch the clash between England and Wales.
A TV audience of 16 million is forecast for the Group B fixture in Qatar, with many commuters expected to leave work early to ensure they are home for the 7pm kick-off.
Loyalties will be spread across pubs in the Welsh border village of Llanymynech, which is divided between the countries.
The Cross Keys, on one side of the main road, will be full of England supporters, while bettors cheer on the Welsh in The Dolphin, which is in Powys.
“If you’re on the way you’re in Wales, if you’re here you’re in Shropshire,” Cross Keys owner Jason Farr told The Telegraph. Sarah Gregory, whose sister and brother-in-law run The Dolphin, described the exchanges between rival pubs as “good banter”.
It will be the first meeting in a World Cup final between two British nations, although England drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland in a game at the 1990 tournament in Italy.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are through to the knockout stages unless they lose by at least four goals. But Wales and manager Rob Page need a win to have any chance of staying in the competition.
Qatar fans for the game may be jealous as beers there cost £12 and are in short supply.
The match will provide another timely boost to the hospitality sector, with 11 million pints downed in pubs and a further 14 million at home, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.
Luke Dearden, of the Sydney Arms in Chelsea, west London, said: “Never mind dry January, it’s wet November thanks to the World Cup.” We had to bring in more beer stocks.
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