Every player, club and national team, no matter how good they are, have a bogey team.
More often than not, these bogey teams rear their ugly little heads when it really matters; be it in a crunch relegation clash, top of the table epic or at tournament football, vanquishing the hopes of said club or country with one lusty, knockout blow.
One country, in this instance, who are no strangers to failing to beat the same opposition over and over again are England, one-time World Cup winners and multi-time when it really matters losers. But who have the wood over the Three Lions each and every time (kind of) they play you ask?
These crafty little devils, that’s who! Let’s dig in…
*Criteria of minimum five games played
Win Percentage: 35%
England have won more than they’ve lost against the Republic of Ireland – but they do have an alarmingly low win rate against the Boys in Green.
The Three Lions have won 35% of their 17 matches with their neighbours, and prior to November’s 3-0 victory, England had not beaten the Republic of Ireland in their previous seven attempts – a run stretching back to 1985.
Jack Charlton famously led the Republic of Ireland to a 1-0 victory over England during the group stages of Euro 88, but both sides failed to qualify from the group because of course they did.
Win Percentage: 30%
England have won just eight of their 27 matches against Italy, providing another paltry win percentage of just 30%; pretty shocking stuff given
the Italians didn’t beat England until 1973, at the ninth time of asking.
To say the Azzurri have dominated since then would be a bit of an understatement, and Italy have even had the temerity to have a hand in consecutive tournament exits for England in the 2010s.
Andrea Pirlo’s filthy penalty helping to knock the Three Lions out of Euro 2012, before they beat England 2-1 in the opening group stage match of the 2014 World Cup. They did at least have the good grace to also be eliminated at the group stages, it must be said.
Win Percentage: 27%
England have a surprisingly disappointing 27% win rate against Uruguay, beating them just once since 1969.
The pair have met on 11 occasions, with England emerging victorious three times. However, these have all been in friendlies – the Three Lions have never beaten Uruguay in a competitive fixture.
The two sides last met at the 2014 World Cup, with a Luis Suarez brace all but confirming England’s elimination at the group stage. He even bit Steven Gerrard afterwards, the rascal!*
(*Disclaimer: he didn’t)
Win Percentage: 27%
Heading back to Europe, England have equally mustered just a 27% win rate against the Netherlands, winning only six of their 22 encounters.
The Three Lions did famously beat the Netherlands at Euro 96 with a thumping 4-1 group stage victory that had the nation dreaming about football coming home – but success has followed just once in nine games since.
The most recent meeting between the pair came in the Nations League, with the Oranje triumphing 3-1 after extra time.
Win Percentage: 22%
England’s second worse win rate is against a bit less of a footballing powerhouse, in the form of giant-killers Romania.
Normally wearing some beautiful kits, Romania have got the better of England three times, and the Three Lions have failed to beat them in their last seven attempts – a run stretching back to 1970.
England were beaten in consecutive major tournaments in the late 90s and early noughties, winning 2-1 in the group stages of the 1998 World Cup, and 3-2 in the final group match of Euro 2000 thanks to an 89th minute penalty.
Yup, because of that needless Phil Neville slide tackle. Why Phil, why?
Win Percentage: 15%
Of teams England have played more than once, Brazil are the side they have the lowest win percentage against.
The Three Lions have beaten Brazil just four times in 26 attempts, giving them a 15% win rate.
There is no shame in this, mind you, with England succumbing to defeat against some fabulous Brazil sides over the years; Alf Ramsey’s side lost to Pele’s Brazil in 1970 – widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time – and England also lost to Brazil in the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup.
Brazil would go on to be crowned world champions on both occasions, so y’know, fair enough.