England will secure their place at Euro 2020 in the coming days if they manage two more wins over Czech Republic and Bulgaria to add to their perfect record in qualifying so far.
Although the competition next summer will be spread across the continent from Ireland to Azerbaijan, both semi-finals and the final are being held at Wembley, making it almost like a home tournament in the latter stages if a strong England side can get that far.
The reality is that any team targeting victory in a major international tournament should be capable of beating anyone, but every nation will always have opponents they have previously fared better against, as well as others against whom they historically struggle.
England are no different. But who are the European nations the Three Lions will want to avoid and those they would be very happy to face in the 24-team tournament next summer?
Of European international sides they have plated at least team, England have the best win ratio (82%) against Finland and Turkey, and have never lost in 11 meetings with each.
Both Finland and Turkey are on course to qualify and so could be potential opponents, with the former sitting just behind Italy in Group J and in possession of a back-up playoff earned via the UEFA Nations League, while the latter has so far gone toe-to-toe with France in Group H.
England may also hope to face any of their immediate neighbours when the Euro 2020 group stage draw is made later this year. That is because they have a 73% win ratio against Northern Ireland, a 69% win ratio against Republic of Ireland, and a 66% win ratio against Wales.
England, of course, met and beat Wales in the group stage at Euro 2016, although it was laboured and the heroic Welsh squad ultimately went much further in the tournament.
As yet, none of the local trio are out of contention to qualify for Euro 2020 and could be in the pot. Ireland certainly have a very good chance, while Northern Ireland could even have gone top of a group containing Germany and Netherlands had they held on against the Dutch this week.
England have a 65% win ratio against UEFA Nations League fourth place finishers Switzerland, and even a 65% win ration against world number ranked Belgium. It must be said, however, that Belgium are a much better side now than in the past and beat England twice at the last World Cup.
As for those nations, England haven’t traditionally done as well against, there are some familiar foes among them. Germany is the nation with the highest win ratio in games against the Three Lions at 38%, while Italy and Spain both have 37% win ratios against England.
Remarkably, Scotland are also one of the national sides England tend to struggle against. Scotland have beaten England in 36% of meetings, while their 41 wins from these encounters are only marginally outweighed by England’s 48 victories.
Scotland’s chances of reaching Euro 2020 via their qualifying group are over after four decisive back-to-back defeats against Belgium and Russia. But the Scots could still make next summer their first major tournament appearance since 1998 as they will have another chance in a play-off that was earned when they won their group in the third tier of the UEFA Nations League.
Netherlands, Croatia, France and Sweden would be other obvious ones to avoid.
|Team||England Win %||Team||Win % vs England|
|Republic of Ireland||69%||Scotland||36%|