Ahead of the Euro 2012 draw on Friday, England manager Fabio Capello has suggested the competition represents a tougher test than the 2010 World Cup.
Spain, Netherlands and Germany look to be the favourites for next summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine, and the worst-case scenario for Capello would see England drawn in a group alongside Spain, Portugal and France.
Having struggled through a group containing United States, Algeria and Slovenia in the World Cup last year, Capello is wary of the greater concentration of quality on offer at Euro 2012.
"This time it will be stronger," he said. "It will be stronger because if you look at the groups and all the teams, particularly the three European teams who reached the World Cup semi-finals, the technical level is at the top, the organisation of the teams is at the top.
"Also some teams who didn't play well at the World Cup will now be back at the top. Portugal, France and Italy will be better. It will be a really tough tournament.''
Asked which teams he would like to avoid in the group stages, Capello said: "Spain and Holland. After that there is also Portugal and France. These are the teams I would prefer to avoid in the group stage.''
England could face Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland, but that prospect has little appeal for Capello either.
"I hope not,'' Capello said. "The countries are close and also it would be two Italian managers, so I prefer not to be drawn with them. We cannot draw Italy as we are in the same pot, but this would be the same for me to face another Italian manager.''
While Capello knows it will be difficult for him to end his England reign on a high, he has no intention of extending his stay until the 2014 World Cup.
The FA's director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking had indicated that he could remain in the post beyond the end of his contract, but Capello - now 65 - says otherwise. "As an England manager, this is it for me,'' he said.