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England’s perfect Euro 2016 qualifying campaign deserves more recognition

08 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
England’s perfect Euro 2016 qualifying campaign deserves more recognition

Despite being the first side to qualify, praise for Roy Hodgson's men has been scarce - but that can change with a win against in-form Switzerland

Only four countries have ever arrived at a European Championships with a perfect qualifying record.

Should England beat Switzerland at Wembley on Tuesday, they will negotiate the largest of the three remaining hurdles standing in the way of them seeing that elite group expand to five.

The truth is that Roy Hodgson’s side deserve far more credit for becoming the first side to book their place at Euro 2016.

As this campaign has shown us more than any other, European qualifying can be a rather tricky business.

People can dismiss the quality of opposition to be found in Group E all they like, but back-to-back games and the odd far-flung trip is enough to make any side stumble.

Just look at the Netherlands, who finished third in last year’s World Cup but currently find themselves stranded in fourth place in their group behind the likes of Turkey, Czech Republic and Iceland – all of whom can be found beneath Switzerland in the FIFA World Rankings.

Despite qualifying with three games to spare, it is unlikely that we will see a drop in England’s intensity.

The reality that they had a stranglehold on this group after the very first match when they caught Switzerland cold in Basel.

The Swiss are currently unbeaten in eight having won their last five qualifiers.

Their success has been built on a gritty determination exemplified by coming from 2-0 down to defeat Slovenia on Saturday – and they are 20/1 to come from behind to win against England.

They are certainly likely to prove a tough nut to crack having not found themselves behind at the break during their last 24 away matches – only conceding twice in the first half during that time.

If England are to break them down they must show plenty of patience – and they are priced at 7/2 to be drawing at half-time before triumphing by the game’s end.

England have scored at least three goals in five of their last six qualifiers and are 14/5 to score over 2.5 goals on Tuesday.

When it comes to finding the back of the net for England all eyes will once again be on Wayne Rooney as he seeks one more goal to take him beyond Bobby Charlton’s record and establish him outright as England’s all-time record goal scorer.

He would no doubt have already done so had he been given the full 90 minutes against San Marino on Saturday – but perhaps it is better this way.

Far better, surely, to earn your place in history in front of a home crowd at Wembley against competitive opposition than on a mountainside in Serravalle against a bunch of part-timers.

Rooney has scored nine in his last 10 qualifiers and is 7/1 to seal the deal against Switzerland with the first goal in an England win.

Should he do so it is still unlikely to be enough to quell his detractors, who will always argue that it counts for nothing unless he produces the goods at a major tournament – something he will have another chance to do across the Channel next summer.

History shows that even a perfect qualifying record is not enough to guarantee success when the real business begins.

Of the four countries to have pulled it off so far, only one – Spain in 2012 – has gone on to lift the trophy.

Still, England will take a huge amount of confidence should they see this virtually flawless campaign through to the end.

And as a new-look side investing in what exciting young talent they have at their disposal, such a ruthlessly efficient streak ought to count for a lot.

England v Switzerland betting

Euro 2016 betting

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