On Friday 10 June the 2016 European Championships kick off in France. The host nation will start the month long festival of football by taking on Romania, before some of the continent’s best players join the battle to be crowned kings of Europe.
Even with the heightened security measures, potential industrial strikes and the recent hideous weather, it promises to be a scintillating spectacle of non-stop action. Especially when you consider some of the talent set to grace the turf across the channel for your viewing pleasure.
Every game will be on Freeview and we have highlighted the home nation and Ireland fixtures below. Meanwhile the BBC and ITV have been having fun with their trails with BBC visiting the French Court,
and ITV call on the wit and wisdom of Eric Cantona:
While host nation France are odds on to win their fourth title, current holders Spain, Belgium, Germany and Italy will all be fantastic to watch. Croatia and Poland can be considered outside bets to win, along with Portugal, and first time qualifiers Iceland are set to be favourites among the romantics hoping for a Leicester City style upset.
Then of course we have England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (sorry, Scotland). With all four taking to the field in France, there’ll be no shortage of familiar faces to get behind. And all these games are in HD so time to get that fantastic new TV you promised yourself.
With an England team packed full of exciting players like Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, there’s a genuine sense of optimism around England this year. Which will just make it all the more unfortunate when they lose on penalties.
England v Russia Saturday 11th June 20:00 Marseille ITV
England v Wales Thursday 16th June 14:00 Lens BBC One & S4C
England v Slovakia Monday 20th June 20:00 St Etienne ITV
We all love an underdog, so there will be plenty of support for Wales. Although, in Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale they do have the world’s most expensive footballer to call upon, so they might have a little more bite than many expect.
Wales v Slovakia Saturday 11th June 17:00 Bordeaux BBC One & S4C
Wales v England Thursday 16th June 14:00 Lens BBC One & S4C
Wales v Russia Monday 20th June 20:00 Toulouse ITV & S4C
Northern Ireland are in their first international tournament since Mexico in 1986 and look set to be the neutrals favourite. Unfortunately, being drawn with reigning world champs Germany and dark horses Poland, might mean it’s rather a short stay back at the top table for the boys from Belfast.
Northern Ireland v Poland Sunday 12th June 17:00 Nice BBC One
Northern Ireland v Ukraine Thursday 16th June 17:00 Lyon ITV
Northern Ireland v Germany Tuesday 21st June 17:00 Paris BBC One
Republic of Ireland
The luck of the Irish will really have to be with the Republic if they’re to have any chance of qualifying from a frankly terrifying looking group. Games against Sweden and Belgium and Italy could prove a bit much for Martin O’Neill and his squad.
Republic of Ireland v Sweden Monday 13th June 17:00 Saint-Denis BBC One
Republic of Ireland v Belgium Saturday 18th June 14:00 Bordeaux ITV
Republic of Ireland v Italy Wednesday 22nd June 20:00 Lille ITV
And after all that, there’s of course the added spice of an England v Wales game to look forward to next Thursday afternoon.
The two home nation rivals have been drawn together in Group B, alongside Russia and Slovakia. While it may be the 102nd time the two old foes have faced off, the game in Lens will be the very first time this local derby has ever taken place at an international tournament.
Whoever emerges victorious, it promises to be quite the encounter and seriously compelling viewing.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got tickets for it though, you can watch it, and all the other Euro 2016 games, with us right here on Freeview.