The first UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Championship was held in France in 1960 and 56 years later it’s returning to the country for a record third time. Euro 2016 will be the first time 24 teams have participated in the competition, with Wales and Northern Ireland both making their debut appearances after successfully qualifying last year.
Check out my predictions for the must-see matches, plus places you can stay and experience Euro 2016 fever!
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The Opener: France vs. Romania
The Euro 2016 action starts with the opening match on the 10th June at the Stade-de-France, just north of Paris. France will be taking on Romania and whilst this should prove an easy win for the host nation, I’m really looking forward to seeing the opening ceremony. Fireworks and celebrations are going to be a given!
Where to stay: Paris Est-Champigny is only 30 minutes from the stadium and is a great choice for fans looking to join in on the opening excitement.
The Nation Divider: England vs. Wales
One sure to stir up some competition will be the England vs. Wales match on 16th June. The 3 Lions will be taking on The Dragons in a game that’s going to get everyone involved. Held in the Stade Bollaert-Delelis just an hour’s drive from Calais, this is the ideal match to attend if you can only spare a few nights away in France.
Old Rivals: England vs. Portugal
If England finish top of the group stages, they’ll play the third place of group A, C or D, which should result in a win to take us to the quarter finals.
Portugal is likely to win its group stage and then play the second place of Group E; this is an open playing field, but odds are that Portugal should win this round too, which will take them into the quarter finals.
If this happens, the age-old rivalry of England vs. Portugal in a quarter final knock-out will be on the cards. I can still remember the stress and heartbreak of the 2004 Euros quarter final match with Portugal narrowly taking the win on penalties. The same thing happened in penalties during the 2006 World Cup quarter finals, so let’s get the goals in early this time boys! The quarter final action is going to take place on 1st July in the Stade Pierre Mauroy, again just over an hour from Calais.
Realistically, anything can happen in these tournaments as Greece showed everyone when they won Euro 2004 (despite being massive outsiders from the start).
For me there are a few underdogs this year; Austria won 9 out of their 10 games during qualification and drew the other, showing the team’s strength this year. Belgium also has a convincing team with front man Eden Hazard likely to play havoc with opposition defence.
I’d love to see Wales go the distance and with the iconic Gareth Bale firing in shots left, right and centre they stand a good chance. If both Wales and Austria make second place in their groups, they’ll face one another in round 16, which would make for a fantastic match at the Stade de Nice on 27th June!
Where to stay: Green Park is just 20 minutes from the stadium
Euro 2016 Final
Certainly the game everyone will be waiting for will be the final match back at the Stade-de-France on 10th July. I’m sure Germany, being the current World Cup holders, fancy their chances of making it here, but what a throwback to the ’66 World Cup final it would be if England goes all the way!
If you fancy being a part of the action, check out more information on Eurocamp’s Euro 2016 page, including loads of great value parcs within an hour of the tournament stadia.