Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: We can dare to dream over massive prize, insists Michael O'Neill

By Adrian Rutherford

It is our biggest match for 34 years - and it is set to bring the country to a standstill.

The streets will fall silent at 5pm this afternoon as Northern Ireland take on Wales for a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

Not since the heady days of the 1982 World Cup has there been so much anticipation around a match.

Thousands of fans will be in Paris for the game, with many more watching back at home.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has told his players they are facing the game of their lives.

"The prize is massive for us as well as Wales and we want to do everything in our power to stay here," he said.

Fans have battled a stampede for flights and tickets over the last 48 hours.

Tickets sold out within minutes of going on sale on Thursday. At one stage one was being offered online for over £1,000.

Some supporters are facing detours of hundreds of miles and stop-offs in other countries to make it to Paris in time.

The demand was so great that one fan even attempted to charter a plane to take supporters to the French capital.

Glen Jameson arranged for a flight to leave Belfast for Paris today - and was swamped with offers from people looking a seat.

But the plan was scuppered when the departure time was moved from 8am to noon. It meant any delay would have left fans in danger of missing kick-off, so Stephen pulled the plug.

Today's game takes place at the Parc des Princes, where Northern Ireland played Germany on Tuesday.

It will see them come up against £85m Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale, the world's most expensive footballer.

The bookmakers have Wales as favourites to win, but Northern Ireland defied the odds to progress through their group.

And O'Neill believes they should continue to dare to dream. "We set our goals to come out of the group, and the players deserve enormous credit given how strong it was," he added.

"We recognise the size of the task against a very good Wales team. They won their group, so they will probably be favourites, but we played here three nights ago against the world champions and we won't get a tougher game than we got here."

Belfast Telegraph