England and Brazil Flag Footballs on Pitch

England v Brazil Head To Head Record: How Have the Three Lions Played Against The Selecao?

On Saturday the 23rd of March 2024, England will welcome Brazil to Wembley Stadium in a marquee international friendly. The two sides have played out some classic games in the past and whilst there is nothing really riding on this one, with the two teams both inside the top five of FIFA’s rankings, there should be plenty to savour.

England will view this game as the start of their preparations ahead of Euro 2024, which takes place this summer in Germany. The Three Lions have a high-class double-header, with a clash against Belgium following this one on the 26th of March. Gareth Southgate will know many of his starting XI for the European Championship but there are certainly a few places still up for grabs and also several places in the squad that are not quite nailed down.

Everyone will be looking to impress but rather than looking ahead to this latest England versus Brazil clash, in this feature we take a look at the head-to-head record between the teams. We will also take a closer look at some of the biggest and most memorable meetings between these two football giants.

England v Brazil Overall Head to Head

England have a very poor record against the most successful team in world football, as the table below shows.

Played England Wins Draws Brazil Wins
26 4 11 11

The Three Lions won the first-ever meeting between the teams back in 1956, a friendly clash at Wembley. Perhaps that 4-2 win is a good omen for the upcoming clash? However, since then England have been poor, winning just three of the following 25 games. Their win percentage overall stands at a dismal 15%.

The goal difference is surprisingly not all that terrible from England’s perspective, with Brazil only managing 11 more goals over the 26 meetings, with 34 goals versus England’s 23. That is perhaps a reflection of the fact that the draw has been quite a common scoreline when the two nations have faced each other. The spoils have been shared just over 42% of the time, with Brazil winning just as often. The fact that Brazil’s goal difference is not more superior is also because this has tended to be a relatively low-scoring clash.

The past 26 games, prior to the March 2024 clash, have brought just 57 goals. That average of around 2.19 per game is very much on the low side, so fans attending Wembley should perhaps temper their expectations. Especially if the most recent meeting is anything to go by.

The Last Time England and Brazil Played

November 2017 Desktop Calendar

The last clash between the pair came in another Wembley friendly around six and a half years ago. On the 14th of November 2017, Southgate fielded a young and somewhat experimental side against the five-time World Cup winners. As such, Southgate was relatively happy with the 0-0 draw his side earned against a Brazil side that featured Neymar, Alisson, Casemiro, Gabriel Jesus, Philippe Coutinho and other very familiar names. The almost 85,000 fans inside Wembley may have been less positive and supporters almost seven years on will certainly be hoping for more entertainment.

England v Brazil Classic Encounters

That game in 2017 was certainly not a memorable one for too many fans, but over the years there have been many incredible moments when these two nations have clashed.

2002 World Cup: Brazil win 2-1

The last competitive clash between England and Brazil came at the World Cup in Japan (who co-hosted with South Korea) over 20 years ago. The Selecao would go on to win the tournament, which was not a vintage edition of the sport’s biggest competition. However, they looked in big trouble against England for a long time and as has often been the case over the years, England fans were left with a feeling of “what if…”.

Sven-Goran Eriksson was the man in the England dugout and when Michael Owen gave his side the lead after 23 minutes hopes were high. Several strong teams had already exited the tournament and there was a feeling that whoever won this game might well win the World Cup.

England were looking good but Brazilian great Rivaldo equalised just before half time and then the mercurial Ronaldinho made it 2-1 just after the break. That will be a goal David Seaman will want to forget, Ronaldinho’s freekick, which many believed to be a cross, getting the better of him from long range and a poor angle. Ronaldinho was sent off with over half an hour to go but England wilted under the pressure and the heat of the day. And Brazil won the World Cup.

1984: Barnes Magic and England Win

In June 1984 England travelled to Brazil for a friendly and managed a surprise and rather rare win. However, this game is not memorable for that, but for John Barnes’ incredible solo goal.

One of the best England goals of all time, Barnes burst forward and beat several players before sailing past the keeper and slotting home. He never quite delivered his best for his country, apart from that one magical moment at the Maracana.

Brilliant Brazil Best World Champions in 1970

England had won the World Cup on home soil in 1966 and headed to the 1970 tournament in decent shape. However, in those days it was even harder for a team to win the World Cup away from their home continent, and so, playing in Mexico (admittedly North America, and so “away” for Brazil too), the Three Lions were up against it.

They also had the small issue of a peaking Brazil, regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time. England featured Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Alan Ball, Martin Peters, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst from the ‘66 team. But Brazil had Pele, Rivelino, Tostao and Jairzinho.

Pele and co would prevail on the day, thanks to a goal from Jairzinho, and would go on to land their third World Cup out of four. But this Brazil versus England match is perhaps most memorable for another reason. With less than 10 minutes gone, Brazil attacked and Pele powered a header goalwards. He thought it was a goal – everyone did – but somehow Banks clawed the ball away, despite it somehow already having beaten him.

After the save the following three-way conversation took place:

Pele: I thought that was a goal!

Banks: You and me both.

Bobby Moore: You’re getting old, Banksy, you used to hold on to them!

1962: Brazil Brilliant Win Without Pele

Pele burst onto the international stage with a stunning display at the World Cup in 1958 as a 17-year-old. Sadly he missed much of the 1962 tournament, in Chile, due to an injury sustained in his side’s second match. However, even without him, Brazil were too good for all the rest, including England.

They met the Three Lions in the quarter finals and an England team featuring Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Greaves and Jimmy Armfield were well beaten, 3-1. It was Brazil’s Little Bird, Garrincha, who pulled the strings that day, and indeed throughout the whole tournament. He scored twice and was largely unplayable in what was a brilliant Brazil performance.