After missing out on a place at UEFA Euro 2008, England will be hoping to make amends in Poland and Ukraine having eased to first place in their qualifying section this time round.
Paris: England will enter UEFA EURO 2012 having missed out on the last European finals and with a new coach in Roy Hodgson after Fabio Capello resigned four months before the tournament.
England had finished third behind Croatia and Russia in their UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying group, and they will also want to improve on their last major championship showing – under Capello at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
They won just once in South Africa before exiting the event with their heaviest World Cup defeat, 4-1 against Germany in the last 16.
Qualification for this tournament went smoothly, however, as they topped their section with an unbeaten record.
England comfortably booked their place in Poland and Ukraine, finishing six points clear at the top of Group G.
Ever-present goalkeeper Joe Hart kept five clean sheets, while at the other end the goalscoring duties were shared around as England had four players level on three strikes.
The national side also reached a milestone against Montenegro in their final qualifier.
The game in Podgorica, which finished 2-2 and secured England’s qualification, was considered the 900th match in their history.
They had previously played 897 completed internationals, plus two that were abandoned.
England’s encounter with Wales at the Millennium Stadium was the 100th time that the two nations had met.
England recorded their 65th victory against their neighbours, adding the 66th in the return fixture at Wembley in September. Ashley Cole, now capped 93 times, surpassed Gary Neville’s record of 85 outfield appearances without a goal during the campaign.
“Our goal was to qualify first in the group; we have qualified and we’ll play the EURO so we are happy,” said Capello after the closing draw with second-placed Montenegro.
At a glance
England have not taken part in the tournament since 2004 thanks to their failure in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying. Home and away losses to Slaven Bilić’s Croatia and a defeat by Russia in Moscow proved costly as Steve McClaren’s men came third behind their conquerors. England’s overall UEFA European Championship record is a tale of disappointment. Their 2008 setback was the fifth time they had failed to get to the finals.