Delayed from a year ago by the coronavirus pandemic the
competition will finally get under way when Italy and Turkey kick things off in Rome on 11 June.
Twenty-four teams will battle it out through group stages and knockout rounds before a winner is crowned on 11 July at Wembley Stadium in London.
Who are the favourites?
England, believe it or not. The Three Lions may be staring at more than 50 years of hurt but that hasn’t stopped punters backing them into favouritism on the eve of the tournament. They head into what could be seen by many as a home competition – as many as six of their matches could be played at Wembley – with one of the best squads they’ve had in years. If Gareth Southgate can get the blend of attacking options right while keeping things tight at the back, then maybe, just maybe, they could go one or two better than they did in Russia three years ago.
They’re not alone, of course, with France’s star-studded group justifiably seeing them right up there, too. In Kylian Mbappe they may well have the best player in the world, and in Didier Deschamps a manager who, rate him or not, knows how to get it done at a major tournament, having done so in 2018.
Belgium, under the guidance of Roberto Martinez, have one of the best squads at the tournament, with the star power to rival anyone.
There remain questions over just how far they can go, but having been handed what looks like a favourable group and with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne arriving in fine form, few should back against them.
Spain again look a force to be reckoned with – even without Sergio Ramos – with a host of world-class players to call upon in almost every position. Blessed with that winning DNA, having triumphed in both 2008 and 2012, they will be heavily fancied again here under Luis Enrique. One of the easier groups also plays into their hands when looking at one or two of their rivals. Speaking of which…
Portugal boast perhaps the best squad of all with a host of players who have been lighting up their domestic seasons in the run-up to the tournament. Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva are all Premier League champions with Manchester City while Diogo Jota will be hoping to be involved too after excelling with Liverpool, although a late-season injury is a concern.
Oh, and there’s this Cristiano Ronaldo chap, who’s quite handy up top as well. The undoubted group of death alongside France, Germany and Hungary, is less advantageous, however.