June 19, 10pm Albania v Romania, France v Switzerland
Group B June 11, 7pm Slovakia v Wales
June 11, 10pm England v Russia
June 15, 4pm Russia v Slovakia
June 16, 4pm England v Wales
June 19, 10pm Russia v Wales, England v Slovakia
Group C June 12, 7pm Northern Ireland v Poland
June 12, 10pm Germany v Ukraine
June 16, 7pm Northern Ireland v Ukraine
June 16, 10pm Germany v Poland
June 21, 7pm Poland v Ukraine, Germany v Northern Ireland
Group D June 12, 4pm Croatia v Turkey
June 13, 4pm Czech Republic v Spain
June 17, 7pm Croatia v Czech Republic
June 17, 10pm Spain v Turkey
June 21, 10pm Croatia v Spain, Czech Republic v Turkey
Group E June 13, 7pm Republic of Ireland v Sweden
June 13, 10pm Belgium v Italy
June 17, 4pm Italy v Sweden
June 18, 4pm Belgium v Republic of Ireland
June 22, 10pm Belgium v Sweden, Italy v Republic of Ireland
Group F June 14, 7pm Austria v Hungary
June 14, 10pm Iceland v Portugal
June 18, 7pm Hungary v Iceland
June 18, 10pm Austria v Portugal
June 22, 7pm Austria v Iceland, Hungary v Portugal
Albania Albania fans could have been forgiven for thinking that this would never happen. Year-after-year of failed qualifying campaigns defined the Balkan nation. That was until last year. In an acrimonious group, that featured an abandoned match with bitter rivals Serbia due to crowd trouble, they ultimately secured second place behind Portugal. Albania were the only team to defeat the Portuguese during the campaign, and in a friendly they secured a surprise win over France, who they’ll face in the tournament on June 15.
Key player: Lorik Cana Albania only conceded five goals in qualifying, thanks largely to the organisational skills of captain Lorik Cana. The former PSG, Sunderland and Lazio defender is a commanding presence in the team.
The coach: Gianni De Biasi Gianni De Biasi is a “journeyman manager”. His coaching career has taken in more than ten teams, mostly in Italy. But since 2011 he has been Albania’s head coach and has transformed the team by encouraging experienced players to return to the fold while promoting young talent.
France Cautious optimism is creeping into the France squad following some strong performances in friendlies. Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands have all been defeated by a young team that’s growing in confidence. And when you look at the team sheet you can see why there’s hope for this side. In particular, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann is one of the world’s best strikers, and the emergence of exciting Manchester United forward Anthony Martial gives the team another dimension going forward. France could go far on home soil.
Key player: Paul Pogba There can’t be a day that goes by when Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t regret letting Paul Pogba leave Manchester United on a free transfer. Since joining Juventus in 2012, he has established himself as one of the best players in the world.
The coach: Didier Deschamps As captain of the national team, Didier Deschamps led France to glory at the 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euros. As a manager, he’s yet to taste the same level of success, but he’s done a great job in healing the rifts that have previously scuppered this team.
Romania When most football fans think of Romania, memories of Gheorghe Hagi, Florin Raducioiu and Ilie Dumitrescu tormenting defences at the 1994 World Cup come flooding back. But if you haven’t watched Romania play recently, it’s probably best to forget about this era of flair and style. Romania 2.0 are a far more stoic side. During qualifying they conceded just two goals and didn’t lose a game. Expect Romania to be stubborn opponents.
Key player: Alexandru Maxim The 25-year-old Stuttgart midfielder is likely to be Romania’s main creative outlet. He’s dangerous from set-plays and can cross with both feet, so has the skills to wreak havoc in opposition defences.
The coach: Anghel Iordanescu Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu is an army general and he clearly has his players well-drilled; don’t expect this Romania side to concede many goals.
Switzerland Switzerland line up at the Euros for the fourth time looking to progress from the group stage for the first time. Their form in qualifying hardly set the world alight, losing twice to England and once to Slovenia, but they did enough to finish second in a weak group. It’s hard to see them going far, but they’ll surely be targeting results against Albania and Romania.
Key player: Xherdan Shaqiri Eyebrows were raised when Xherdan Shaqiri swapped the San Siro for the Britannia Stadium last summer, but this has been a redemptive season for the midfielder at Stoke. He has reminded everyone of his playmaking ability this season.
The coach: Vladimir Petkovic With a wealth of coaching experience in Switzerland, Vladimir Petkovic seemed like a logical choice to succeed Ottmar Hitzfeld as national team manager. He’s managed six Swiss teams and also been in Italy, where he won the Coppa Italia with Lazio in 2013.
England England’s stirring 3-2 victory over Germany in March, in a friendly, predictably got some pundits talking up the team’s chances at Euro 2016. Three days later, a 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands at Wembley dampened those expectations. In qualifying, England were solid, topping their group with ten wins out of ten. This 100 percent record was particularly impressive when you consider that it came off the back of the disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign, when England crashed at the group stage with one point from three games. But with the emergence of young Tottenham players Dele Alli in midfield and Harry Kane upfront, plus the blistering pace of Leicester frontman Jamie Vardy, England look better equipped for tournament football than they did then.
Key player: Harry Kane Many speculated whether Harry Kane would be a one-season-wonder after his 31-goal breakthrough campaign with Spurs in the 2014-15 season. But he’s repeated the feat this season and will carry a major goal threat at the tournament.
The coach: Roy Hodgson The 68-year-old is one of the most experienced coaches at the tournament, and has stated his desire to stay on in the job post-summer. His policy of introducing young players is admirable, but he needs to decide on a settled formation and line-up for England to enter with confidence.
Russia Russia secured qualification with a second place finish in their group. They edged the Swedes by just two points at the end of a campaign that featured comprehensive wins (7-0 over Liechtenstein) and humbling draws (1-1 with Moldova). However, they did finish qualification with four consecutive wins, which suggests a team beginning to click. Still, it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to repeat their performance from the 2008 edition, which ended at the semi-finals.
Key player: Aleksandr Kokorin The 25-year-old’s three goals in qualification came at vital times, and he’ll need to continue this knack if Russia are to progress from the group. He’s previously been linked with moves to the Premier League.
The coach: Leonid Slutsky Leonid Slutsky’s playing career ended at 19 when he fell out of a tree trying to rescue a neighbour’s cat and damaged his knee. But he’s carved out a solid coaching career. Slutsky balances the Russia job with his role as head coach at CSKA Moscow, where he’s won two Russian Premier League titles, two Russian Cups and two Super Cups.
Slovakia Slovakia caused one of the upsets of qualifying by defeating Spain 2-1 in Zilina. This result will act as a warning to their Group B rivals, but there are also signs that Slovakia aren’t all that. Defeat to Belarus and an almighty scare against international football minnows Luxembourg meant that Slovakia finished second to Spain and narrowly edged past Ukraine to reach Euro 2016. This is only their second experience of a major tournament, following the 2010 World Cup, when they reached the last 16. Repeating the trick of getting out of the group would be a great performance.
Key player: Marek Hamsik A mainstay of the national team since 2007, Marek Hamsik is Slovakia’s undoubted star. The Napoli playmaker is easily identifiable due to his now trademark Mohawk hairstyle, and can both score and create goals.
The coach: Jan Kozak Former Czechoslovakia international Jan Kozak played for his nation at the 1980 Euros and 1982 World Cup. He gained most of his managerial experience in the Czech Republic, and led FC Kosice to back-to-back league titles in the late-1990s.
Wales It’s been 58 years since Wales last graced a major tournament, and the celebrations when they booked their spot at Euro 2016 were borne out of overwhelming relief. This is Wales’ golden generation, spearheaded by Real Madrid star Gareth Bale. But it would be a mistake to think that this is a one-man team. Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsay and Liverpool’s Joe Allen keep the midfield ticking, while captain Ashley Williams is a rock at the back. A lack of big game experience may be a problem for players plucked from lower league teams, but Wales will be determined to make their return last longer than just the group stage.
Key player: Gareth Bale Who else? The world’s most expensive player is an explosive attacking threat with pace and ball control to terrify any defence.
The coach: Chris Coleman For all the talk of Wales’ star players, Chris Coleman has still had to work tirelessly to mould a capable team. As a former Wales international, and with experience of coaching in England and Spain, he should be prepared for what lies ahead.
Germany Are the World Cup holders starting to slip up? Qualifying for Euro 2016 wasn’t as simple as expected, with a few surprising results blotting their record. Defeats to Poland and the Republic of Ireland meant top spot was only secured by a point, while the recent friendly defeat to England in Berlin was another shock. But this is still a ridiculously strong squad. Germany will go into the tournament as one of the favourites, but their rivals will be smelling blood.
Key player: Manuel Neuer The Bayern Munich number one has taken goalkeeping to a new level. Playing as almost a sweeper, he’s quick off his line and comfortable with the ball.
The coach: Joachim Low Formerly assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann, Joachim Low stepped up in 2008 and has gradually improved the national team. He led them to the semi-finals of the 2008 Euros, third place at the 2010 World Cup, the last four at the 2012 Euros, before winning the 2014 World Cup.
Northern Ireland Many will claim Northern Ireland’s qualification is a result of the expanded tournament. But that’s doing them a disservice – they qualified as winners of their group, arguably against the odds. There are no big names playing, but what they do have is a well-settled squad that plays with pride. This is their first appearance at a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup, but recent form suggests they won’t be the group’s whipping boys.
Key player: Kyle Lafferty While knocking in goals for fun – seven in qualifying for the Euros – Kyle Lafferty couldn’t even get a game for his club team, Norwich. The striker clearly relishes playing for his nation, and he’ll be out to prove a point this summer.
The coach: Michael O’Neill The former Newcastle, Hibs and Wigan midfielder Michael O’Neill built up his managerial experience in Irish football, where he led Shamrock Rovers to back-to-back league titles in 2010 and 2011. After a shaky start, he’s transformed Northern Ireland, securing their first ever European Championship qualification.
Poland This is Poland’s third successive European Championship appearance and this year they seem in the best shape yet. In Robert Lewandowski they have one of the world’s best strikers, and his 11 goals in qualifying took them to within a point of group winners Germany. Poland even beat the reigning world champions during the qualification campaign to lay down a marker ahead of their meeting this summer. They’ve never progressed past the group stage of the European Championships, but that could be about to change this year.
Key player: Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich’s striker is at the top of his game. The Poland captain is in almost unstoppable form and has the ability to fire his nation far into the tournament.
The coach: Adam Nawalka Former Poland international Adam Nawalka was a bit of a journeyman coach in his native country before landing the national team job. But his appointment has been a success, with some eye-catching results since he took the job in October 2013.
Ukraine In 2012, Ukraine made their debut at the European Championships as co-hosts of the tournament. This year, they’ve made it on merit after a solid, if wholly unspectacular, qualification campaign. They finished third in qualifying, behind group winners Spain and runners-up Slovakia, but comfortably ahead of also-rans Belarus, Luxembourg and Macedonia. They were then rewarded in the playoffs with the easiest draw possible against Slovenia, which ended in a 3-1 aggregate win. It’s hard to see this approach taking them much further.
Key player: Andriy Yarmolenko The Dynamo Kyiv forward’s goals during qualifying were vital for Ukraine. He scored four goals during the group stage and another two in the playoff.
The coach: Mykhaylo Fomenko The former USSR defender Mykhaylo Fomenko has extensive coaching experience. He’s been in charge of the national team since 2012 and this is his first major tournament after an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Croatia Croatia found themselves locked in a hard-fought battle for qualification with Italy and Norway. Two creditable 1-1 draws with group winners Italy and a 5-1 thrashing of Norway seemed to have put the Croats in the driving seat. However, a goalless draw with Azerbaijan, followed by a 2-0 defeat to Norway with three games to go, ensured that qualification went down to the wire. Ultimately they secured a berth by one point, and there were enough positive signs to suggest they can be competitive.
Key player: Luka Modric Often overlooked when talking about Real Madrid’s most important players, Luka Modric gets about his job with minimum fuss. But the fact that he’s been a mainstay of the Spanish giants’ team since 2012 says it all. His playmaking ability is vital for Croatia.
The coach: Ante Cacic Following the draw with Azerbaijan and defeat to Norway in qualifying, Niko Kovac was sacked and replaced by Ante Cacic. Cacic guided the team to a 3-0 win over Bulgaria and 1-0 victory over Malta in the final two qualification games, but now faces his biggest challenge. Czech Republic On paper, the Czech Republic’s qualification group looked tough. But that was before the Netherlands crashed to a fourth place finish. The Czechs took advantage of this to finish top, having set the tone by beating the Dutch 2-1 in the opening game. In the end it became a close fight, with Iceland and Turkey (who they’ll meet again in the tournament), both recording victories over the Czechs. Friendly results in the build up haven’t been convincing, so question marks do remain over the quality of the squad.
Key player: Petr Cech It hasn’t been the easiest season for Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, but he is still a commanding presence between the sticks. His experience will be vital.
The coach: Pavel Vrba A five-time winner of the Czech Coach of the Year award, Pavel Vrba seemed the logical choice for the national team job after the team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. He has overhauled the squad since taking over, with an upturn in results.
Spain Putting their harrowing 2014 World Cup campaign behind them will surely be Spain’s priority at the Euros. Two years ago in Brazil, they failed to get out of their group, losing 5-1 to the Netherlands and 2-0 to Chile. Qualification for Euro 2016 threatened to be equally traumatic following a 2-1 defeat to Slovakia. However, they recovered strongly to win eight games in a row and seal qualification as group winners. Spain have won the last two European Championships, but this team is nowhere near as dynamic as the group of players who dominated world football from 2008 to 2012.
Key player: Andres Iniesta Despite his advancing years, the 32-year-old Barcelona star and creative playmaker is still pivotal to both his club and country.
The coach: Vincente del Bosque As the national team’s most successful coach, Vincente del Bosque will be determined to repair the damage from the 2014 World Cup. He guided Spain to Euro 2012, so knows how to win.
Turkey Semi-final appearances at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2008 suggested Turkey were on the brink of big things. However, they’ve failed to kick on from those highs, and this is their first appearance at a major tournament since 2008. They reached Euro 2016 by finishing third in their group, advancing as the best third place team in qualification. What will give Turkey hope is their late run of form in securing that third place finish. They won their final three games, beating the Netherlands 3-0, Czech Republic 2-0 and Iceland 1-0. Six goals scored and none conceded when the pressure is on suggests a good team.
Key player: Arda Turan A major creative force in the heart of Turkey’s midfield is Barcelona star Arda Turan. If he’s on form this summer, Turkey could spring a few surprises.
The coach: Fatih Terim Having led Turkey to the semi-finals of Euro 2008, Fatih Terim returned to coach the national team in 2013. In between his spells as Turkey manager, he won back-to-back league titles with Galatasary.
Belgium European Championship debutants Wales stole many of the headlines when advancing from Group B of the qualifying stage. But Belgium were the group winners, finishing two points ahead of Wales. However, questions still remain over the performances of a team packed with world-class players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. They were underwhelming at the 2014 World Cup, labouring to the quarter-finals despite having flair players to call upon. This team has often been referred to as Belgium’s golden generation, and it’s time for the players to show why.
Key player: Kevin De Bruyne The classy playmaker won games almost single-handedly for Manchester City last season, and his influence is important for Belgium. He has an eye for goal and sets up plenty of chances for his teammates.
The coach: Marc Wilmots The former Belgium midfielder Marc Wilmots has been tasked with getting the most of out of this talent squad. He was instrumental in bringing young players in, but he now has to harness the potential.
Italy Italy emerged unscathed from qualifying, winning seven and drawing three of their ten games to finish ahead of Croatia and Norway. It wasn’t the most convincing of campaigns, but qualification never looked in serious doubt. Results in friendlies, however, are more of a concern. Victories have proven hard to come by and some of the results have been heavy, including a 3-1 defeat to Belgium and a 4-1 humbling against Germany.
Key player: Gianluigi Buffon He may be getting on a bit, but the 38-year-old Juventus goalkeeper has bags of experience. His big tournament know-how could make the difference for Italy.
The coach: Antonio Conte Having already announced that he’s going to be the next Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte will surely want to go out on a high with Italy. Known for his no-nonsense attitude and direct style of play, Conte will be expected to take Italy far into the tournament.
Republic of Ireland One of the most eye-catching results of the qualification campaign was the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 win over Germany. This helped the Irish secure third position and a playoff place, edging out rivals Scotland. In the playoffs, they navigated a tricky two-leg tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 on aggregate to continue an impressive run. On paper, there are few players who stand out, but their direct style of play and defensive fortitude is taking them far.
Key player: Robbie Keane At 35 years of age, Robbie Keane may be lacking pace these days, but he’s still got an eye for goal. He’s an instinctive finisher, as he proved with five goals during qualifying.
The coach: Martin O’Neill Since becoming Republic of Ireland manager in 2013, Martin O’Neill has gradually made the team harder to beat. He’s assisted by former Manchester United midfielder and Ireland international Roy Keane.
Sweden Since their mid-90s peak of reaching the Euro 92 semi-finals and finishing third at the 1994 World Cup, Sweden haven’t achieved much at all. But with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the side, anything is possible. It was his goal-scoring ability that propelled Sweden into Euro 2016. After finishing third in their qualifying group behind Austria and Russia, Sweden were drawn against rivals Denmark in the playoffs. Three Ibrahimovic goals later, and Sweden were heading to Euro 2016 off the back of a 4-3 victory. But their influential captain aside, the team lacks depth and could struggle in this tough group.
Key player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic In addition to his three goals in the playoffs, the captain scored eight times during the group stage. Without his goals, it’s hard to see where Sweden would be.
The coach: Erik Hamren As a club manager, Erik Hamren won league titles with AaB Fodbold in Denmark and Rosenborg in Norway. He’s been manager of Sweden since 2009 and took the team to Euro 2012. They exited at the group stage.
Austria When Austria qualified for Euro 2008 automatically as co-hosts, they were held in such low-esteem that 10,000 of their fans signed a petition urging the team to pull out to spare embarrassment. How times change. Eight years later and Austria have waltzed into Euro 2016 after topping their group with nine wins and one draw. There are talented players throughout the squad, many of whom have quietly gone about their business without much attention. If any team is deserving of the dark horse tag at this year’s tournament, it’s Austria.
Key player: David Alaba Capable of playing in defence and midfield, but particularly effective at left-back, David Alaba made his debut for Austria when he was only 17. Now 23, the Bayern Munich player has experience that belies his age.
The coach: Marcel Koller As a player, the Swiss midfielder spent his entire career at Grasshoppers Zurich where he played 428 games over 24 years. As a manager, he built up experience in Switzerland before spells with FC Koln and Vfl Bochum in Germany before taking the Austria national team job in October 2011.
Hungary The Mighty Magyars are back. The two-time World Cup finalists have been absent from major tournaments since 1986, which would have been unthinkable during the 1950s. Back then, the Ferenc Puskas-inspired “Golden Team” won gold at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, thrashed England 7-1 in a friendly in 1954 and later that year pushed West Germany all the way in the World Cup final. But adjectives such as “mighty” and “golden” don’t apply to this generation of players. Euro 2016 qualification was secured via the playoffs, with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Norway. The expansion of the tournament has played a huge part in them reaching this stage, and it would be a surprise if they went further.
Key player: Balazs Dzsudzsak Dynamo Moscow made Balazs Dzsudzsak the most expensive Hungarian player when they signed him in 2012. The goal-scoring winger now plays in Turkey for Bursaspor and is one of Hungary’s main threats.
The coach: Bernd Storck A long-time assistant manager with clubs such as Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund, the German stepped up to the number one position with FC Almaty in Kazakhstan. He’s also managed the Kazakhstan national team and was coach of Hungary Under-20s before taking the senior job in 2015.
Iceland Just four years ago Iceland were ranked 131st in the world and had never come close to major tournaments. The turnaround by this island nation has been remarkable. They came within a two-leg playoff of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, losing 2-0 on aggregate to Croatia. But there were no such set-backs this time as Iceland secured second place in Group A to achieve automatic qualification. The highlight of qualifying was a 1-0 win over the Netherlands, a result that would have been almost unthinkable in the recent past.
Key player: Gylfi Sigurdsson The Swansea midfielder is instrumental for his club and country. He’s particularly dangerous from set-pieces, and has an eye for goal from open play.
The coaches: Lars Lagerback/Heimir Hallgrimsson Former Sweden boss Lars Lagerback has been Iceland coach since 2011, and came close to guiding them to the 2014 World Cup. Lagerback will retire after Euro 2016, and will co-manage Iceland with Heimir Hallgrimsson, who will then take control.
Portugal Portugal must wonder what more they have to do to win the tournament. They looked dead-certs on home soil in 2004, but were stunned in the final by Greece. And they’ve reached the semi-finals on three other occasions (losing to France after extra-time in 1984 and 2000, and on penalties to Spain in 2012). Qualification for Euro 2016 started unpromisingly with a 1-0 home defeat to Albania. This cost Paulo Bento his job, with Fernando Santos taking over and guiding Portugal to seven wins in a row.
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal’s captain needs hardly any introduction. The Real Madrid forward was the team’s top scorer with five goals in qualifying, which probably isn’t a surprise from the all-time leading scorer for both Real Madrid and Portugal.
The coach: Fernando Santos A league-winning manager with Porto, Fernando Santos also has international football experience with Greece, who he took to Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup. He had an instant impact with Portugal, guiding them to seven successive wins in qualification for Euro 2016.
The beIN Sports presenter shares his predictions on this year's tournament.
On the hosts “France have got to be favourites. Whatever anybody says it’s a huge advantage to be the hosts. France have the quality, they know the nature of winning. I think being hosts will give them a tremendous lift.”
On the other contenders “I know Denmark will argue that they were the opposite in that they stepped off the beach and won it, but generally you need that tournament experience and that’s why ultimately I think one of the big teams will win it.”
On England’s hopes “I suspect we’ll go as usual with the barnstorming expectation that we’ll win it without needing to play and then let ourselves down. But I hope not. I wouldn’t set targets but a semi-final would be progress, obviously, in fact getting out of the group would be progress.”
On starting with Wayne Rooney “I’d play him, all day long. You have to. I don’t care that Andy Gray’s not a big fan, I am. He remains the one player that teams don’t want to see in our starting line-up. He is our one international-class, proven, top-quality player.”
On the player he’s most excited about seeing “I think Harry Kane will do well. He’s one I’m really looking forward to seeing, especially in his first major tournament.”
The other beIN Sports presenter with his thoughts on what could happen in France.
On the hosts “I was there in ’98 in France and without a doubt, the passion of the nation lifted the team to unbelievable heights. They had some wonderful players in that side as well, but they still have some wonderful players so you have to look at them as potential winners.”
On the other contenders “You cannot ignore Germany because they always turn up tournament-ready. I don’t know about Spain. They’re kind of going through a little period where they’re getting it done, but they’re just getting it done. Are Belgium going to turn up at a tournament, at last? Will Cristiano Ronaldo drive Portugal on to victory? I think there are some fascinating questions here.”
On England’s hopes “England have got a chance – I don’t often say that. It’s a tough group. Russia are not great, but they’re tough. If Wales’ best team turn up, they’re going to be very hard to beat. I think England will go through, but who they get in the knockout stages will define how far they go.”
On starting with Wayne Rooney “I get the feeling that Roy [Hodgson] is going to be very loyal to Wayne and in the first game, he may well play him as a number ten behind Kane. Roy is loyal, but he’s also tough and if he thinks Wayne doesn’t deserve a place in the team, he won’t play him.”
On the player he’s most excited about seeing “Harry Kane. I think it’s one thing having a good Premier League season, but it’s another thing taking that into a big international championship and showing people just how good you are.”