England's World Cup record: Opposition, results & statistics on every finals so far

Harry KaneGetty

Whereas England fans had little hope of their country doing well at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Three Lions are regarded as one of the favourites again this time around.

Sure, they have not been in great form in recent months, but their run to the semi-finals in 2018, followed by a place in the final at Euro 2020 means there's no denying England are a force to be reckoned with at the international stage.

They will have to see off USA, Wales and Iran in the group stages, before they can potentially start dreaming about lifting the coveted trophy come December 18.

Taking into account England's mixed results at the World Cup, Goal takes a look at how the side have done in previous finals.

How have England fared in previous World Cups?

England are only one of eight nations to have lifted a World Cup, but they only managed the feat in 1966. Since then, their best finish in the World Cup was fourth place in Italy in 1990 and 2018, with results in between those two tournaments ones that have been shrouded in disappointment.

Penalty shootouts are often England's Achilles heel in World Cups, but they are not alone in causing the nation woe. There have also been group-stage performances that have failed to see the Three Lions capitalise on weaker opposition, controversial refereeing decisions and poor team fluidity and a general sense of motivation on several occasions, despite always boasting big-name players.

World Cup 2018, Russia

Tunisia caused the Three Lions plenty of troube in their opening game, but a Harry Kane goal in the dying seconds of the match saw England get their campaign underway with a win. They then destroyed Panama 6-1 to book their ticket to the knockout stages, with the group-stage defeat at the hands of Belgium meaning little.

A hard-fought win over Colombia after penalties then saw them progress to the quarter-finals, where they saw off Sweden with ease.

Unfortunately, Croatia then proved to be too much of an obstacle in the semi-finals, with Luka Modric and his men recording a 2-1 win after extra time.

England were unable to recharge the battery for the bronze-medal clash with Belgium and had to settle for fourth place in the end.










1-1 (*win after pens)







World Cup 2014, Brazil

Brazil in 2014 was Roy Hodgson's first and last World Cup as England manager following a dispute between the FA and former manager Fabio Capello.

England were immediately drawn into a difficult group in Brazil alongside Uruguay and Italy, which meant that it was the first time that three former World Cup champions were all drawn in the same group. Costa Rica proved to be an underdog threat as they progressed out of the group stage at the expense of Italy and the Three Lions.

It was a disastrous summer for England as they lost their two group games, drawing one, meaning that they only picked up one point from three matches and failed to register a single win, finishing rock bottom. England were knocked out after two games following consecutive losses to Italy and Uruguay – which involved then club teammates Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard facing each other.

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Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney were the only two goalscorers for England in a hugely disappointing tournament. Brazil was Gerrard's last World Cup with England, as he announced his retirement from international duty soon after the end of the finals.

World Cup 2010, South Africa

Despite England being handed a relatively kind World Cup draw, placed in a group featuring the likes of Slovenia, Algeria and the United States, they failed to capitalise on the gift and stumbled through the group stages. Their opening fixture against the USMNT saw Three Lions goalkeeper Robert Green conceded a horrendous goal after they initially led 1-0, finishing in a draw. 

Against Algeria, they drew 0-0 and were booed off the pitch by their own fans – with most of the frustrations directed towards Wayne Rooney, who failed to make an impact for the team – but managed to register a 1-0 win against Slovenia.

They finished the group stage level on points with the USMNT but placed second due to scoring less goals, and as a result of being runners-up, had to face the winners of Group D, which was Germany.

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The game was littered with controversy, as after Germany were leading 2-0 after half an hour, England midfielder Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed. Replays clearly show that the ball had passed the line, but the referee deemed otherwise. By this point, England had already scored a goal through Matthew Upson and had Lampard's goal counted, the scoreline would have been level at 2-2.

With England frustrated and disappointed with the decision to not award the goal, Germany capitalised and scored two more goals to register a 4-1 win, knocking England out at the last 16 stages. It eventually became Germany's biggest win against the Three Lions at a World Cup.

World Cup 2006, Germany

England 2006 World Cup

As is usually the case with England, they are a team who do well in the qualification stages but always fall short during the actual tournament. Under Sven-Goran Erikssen, England impressed pre-tournament, but were unconvincing in Germany.

In the group stages, their 1-0 win over Paraguay was only due to the fortunes of an own goal, while their fixture against newcomers Trinidad and Tobago saw them score only in the 83rd minute through a Peter Crouch effort that proved controversial after he used a Soca Warriors defender's dreadlocks to head home a David Beckham cross. England would score their second goal coming during injury time.

Trinidad and Tobago2-0
Portugal0-0 (1-3 on penalties)

Against Sweden as their last group stage game, they were forced to settle for a draw which saw them progress through to the next round as group winners and avoid Germany in the last 16. David Beckham's free-kick against Ecuador meant that they cemented a spot in the quarter-finals against Portugal – a game that finished 0-0 in regular time and England lost on penalties.

Owen Hargreaves was the only England player to have scored his penalty in the shootout with Gerrard, Lampard and Jamie Carragher all missing theirs in devastating fashion.

World Cup 2002, South Korea/Japan

The finals in South Korea and Japan was the first major tournament under manager Eriksson, with their hopes in progressing far in the tournament buoyed by their 5-1 victory over Germany in the lead-up to the finals. 

Against their manager's home nation Sweden, England fought a 1-1 draw in the group stages and then managed to exact revenge on Argentina by defeating them 1-0. In the previous fixture between the two sides in 1998, Beckham had been sent off and was able to make amends by scoring a penalty. However, after that, England were only able to manage a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Nigeria – meaning that though they qualified for the next round against Denmark, they finished in second place which meant that they had to face Brazil in the quarter-finals.


England registered a 3-0 win over Denmark but lost to eventual winners Brazil in the quarter-finals following a mistake by David Seaman, with the final score being 2-1. Brazil thus sealed their fourth World Cup match against the Three Lions.

World Cup 1998, France

England World Cup 1998Getty

Following on from the disappointment of missing the 1994 World Cup in the United States, they managed to qualify for the 1998 tournament in France under manager Glen Hoddle and qualified alongside Italy, finishing above Poland, Georgia and Moldova.

During the tournament in France, England managed to beat Tunisia 2-0, though lost 2-1 to Romania but won against Colombia 2-0 in the decisive group stage match – prompting England to finish second and progress through to the last 16. They then met perennial rivals Argentina and once again met a familiar fate – losing on penalties.

Argentina2-2 (3-4 on penalties)

In one of the most memorable World Cup fixtures, Beckham was sent off in the 47th minute in a controversial situation where many thought that all he deserved was a yellow card and not a red after he knocked over Diego Simeone. Six yellow cards and two more penalties were given, and both teams scored twice in the first half and the game was forced to go into extra time.

As neither team was able to find a winner, the match went to penalties. Goalkeeper David Seaman saved one, though the Argentina goalkeeper managed to save two, including the all-important one from David Batty – knocking England out of the World Cup.

Beckham was the target of a brutal reception from home supporters following the events of the fixture, receiving death threats and bullets in the mail.

World Cup 1994, United States

England were unable to qualify for the 1994 tournament held in the United States with manager Graham Taylor, after losing out to Norway and Netherlands and finishing third in qualification above Poland, Turkey and San Marino.

The side went into their final qualification match knowing that they needed a seven-goal victory in order to qualify against San Marino as well as for Netherlands to drop points against Poland. Davide Gualtieri scored against England inside nine seconds, though England managed to win 7-1 – which proved futile as the Oranje beat Poland 3-1.

Manager Taylor's tenure as England boss ended and he was replaced by Terry Venables, who was sacked after England lost the semi-final of the 1996 Euros – which they had hosted.

World Cup 1990, Italy

Due to previous incidents which saw English football hooligans behave badly in Europe, England were forced to play their group games in the 1990 World Cup in Sardinia and Sicily. In the group stages, England opened their first match with a 1-1 draw against Ireland and a 0-0 draw against the Dutch – but then managed to beat Egypt 1-0, which was enough to win their group.

Their next round saw them face Belgium when David Platt scored the winning goal in the 119th minute of extra time. They were also forced to play in extra time against opponents Cameroon in the quarter-final stage – who were the first African team to have reached that stage – and England scored their opening goal through Platt, but Cameroon scored twice to lead 2-1. Gary Lineker won and scored a penalty towards the end of regular time and England progress through to the next round on penalties.

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West Germany1-1 (3-4 on penalties)

In the semi-final tie against west Germany, England lost 3-4 on penalties as Chris Waddle missed his penalty completely, shooting straight over the crossbar, knocking his side out. Though it was England's best finish in a World Cup since they won the tournament in 1966, it was the last tournament to be played under manager Bobby Robson.

World Cup 1986, Mexico

England Argentina World Cup 1986Getty

In the 1986 finals in Mexico, England finished second in the group stage after losing their opening game to Portugal 1-0 and drawing 0-0 to Morocco – but registering a 3-0 win against Poland, which saw Lineker score a hat-trick.

England then finished as runners-up in their group and won against Paraguay 3-0 in the next round to set up a match up against everlasting rivals Argentina in one of the most historic matches to have taken place in football. 

Both goals scored by Diego Maradona for Argentina have gone down in history. The first goal was scored with his hand to steer the ball into the net, dubbing the incident as "the Hand of God". Maradona then scored his second goal after dribbling from his own half and through several English opponents before finally turning past Peter Shilton.


Lineker managed to make the score 2-1 with a strike of his own but it was too little too late as England failed to equalise and were thus eliminated. Despite the loss, Lineker won the Golden Boot with six goals – the prize given to the highest-scoring player in a World Cup final – becoming England's first ever Golden Boot winner (and the last to have done so to date).

World Cup 1982, Spain

The 1982 World Cup was the first time where the European Qualifying Rounds were divided into groups consisting of five teams, where the top two qualify for the World Cup – and England did well in the first round, beating France 3-1, Czechoslovakia 2-0 and Kuwait 1-0.

In the next round, however, there was a second group stage of three teams. England drew 0-0 with West Germany and Spain. They needed a two-goal difference in order to progress to the next round after Germany beat Spain, but were unable to capitalise and were eliminated. 

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World Cup 1978, Argentina

Argentina in 1978 was the second time in a row that England failed to qualify for the World Cup, following the 1974 tournament in West Germany. England failed to qualify over Italy, who scored three more goals in qualification after both sides finished with the same amount of points. In this process, goals scored had determined who qualified after the head-to-head record between the two nations finished the same.

World Cup 1974, West Germany

1974 in West Germany marked the first time that England were unable to qualify for the World Cup, after finishing below Poland in qualification.

World Cup 1970, Mexico

England qualified automatically for the 1970 tournament by winning the 1966 World Cup and were first drawn in a group with Romania, former champions Brazil and Czechoslovakia. The quarter-final of the tournament was a repeat of the 1966 final against west Germany – but fate was reversed as they were eliminated from the tournament despite holding an initial two-goal lead.

West Germany3-2

In the 70th minute, Franz Beckenbauer scored for West Germany to make it 2-1. Uwe Seeler equalised in the 81st minute to take the game into extra time, where Gerd Muller scored the winning goal for the Germans and win 3-2. The match was Bobby Charlton's last ever game for England.

World Cup 1966, England

England West Germany World Cup 1966Getty

Football came home in 1966 when England used their home advantage. Under Alf Ramsey, England won their first and only World Cup on home ground, having played all their games at Wembley Stadium which became the last instance that the hosts were given that privilege. Despite getting their first game against Uruguay to a start with a 0-0 draw, they began a great run which saw victories against France and Mexico, qualifying for the quarter-final stage.

West Germany4-2

Against Argentina, England won 1-0 in a match that saw the birth of the rivalry between the two nations, when Antonio Rattin was sent off by German referee Rudolf Kreitlein in an intense fixture. England then won 2-1 against Portugal and the final against West Germany ended in a 4-2 win for the Three Lions.

World Cup 1962, Chile

In South America in 1962, England were handed a group of Hungary, Argentina and Bulgaria. The Three Lions finished in second place behind Hungary after winning one game, losing one and drawing the other, and had to face defending champions Brazil in the following quarter-final round.

England lost 3-1 in the game which led to manager Walter Winterbottom's dismissal, despite having brought them to four World Cup finals. Alf Ramsey was appointed manager of the Three Lions in May of 1963.


World Cup 1958, Sweden

The 1958 finals in Sweden marked the first time that England had to play against other countries other than the Home Nations in order to qualify for the tournament. Four months before the tournament was set to start, however, Manchester United players Roger Byrne, Duncan Edwards, David Pegg and Tommy Taylor lost their lives in the tragic Munich air disaster. At the finals, all the Home Nations were drawn in different groups.

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Soviet Union (play-off)0-1

England were drawn against the Soviet Union where the score finished 2-2, then Brazil (0-0), and Austria (2-2). Soviet Union and England each had three points with the same number of goals scored and conceded, which meant that they had to compete in a play-off round to determine who would qualify for the next stage. England lost 1-0 and were eliminated.

World Cup 1954, Switzerland

England were drawn against Switzerland, Italy and Belgium, though would not have to play Italy as one of the two seeded teams. England's opening game in Switzerland saw them experience a shock where Leopold Anould put the Belgians ahead after just five minutes, though England were level 20 minutes later, and the eventful game finally finished in a 4-4 draw.

England's final group stage was against the hosts in a 2-0 win, leading them to progress through as group winners, earning them a fixture against Uruguay in the next round. They were eliminated after they lost 4-2.


World Cup 1950, Brazil

At England's inaugural World Cup, which was held in Brazil, they only one won group stage game and failed to progress through to the next round.

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