The football extravaganza comes after months of seemingly endless woes in France.

(Reuters (Archive))

Terror threats, nationwide strikes and extreme weather... that's what hosts France have had to deal with in the build up to the Euro 2016, but the tournament is finally kicking off on Friday at the Stade de France in Paris.

France will be in action against Romania, and the hosts in particular will be hoping for a five-star performance by Hugo Lloris' men to banish the blues surrounding the tournament, which will be contested by 24 teams over 30 days.

Here's a quick guide to the tournament.

Security, strikes and sanitation

More than 90,000 police and security personel will be on hand to ensure the tournament passes without incident just seven months after terror attacks killed 130 people in Paris.

"To be totally honest, I'm worried," a senior counter-terrorism official was quoted as saying by AFP days ahead of the tournament.

But French President Francois Hollande has vowed to host a successful tournament, adding that if strong "measures have to be taken, they will be taken."

For Hollande, a bigger concern is a nationwide labour strike which seems to be snow-balling into a bit of a disaster.

Transport to some of the main venues hosting matches during the tournament remains suspended with uncleared garbage providing a constant reminder that there has been no compromise between the government and the CGT trade union.

On Friday, France's Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said the government would use "every available tool to get fans to the matches. The state-run railway SNCF, according to Vidalies, was laying on special trains to get fans to the opening match from central Paris.

The city's mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said the garbage piling up in the capital would be cleared in a cleanup measure, with or without the rubbish truck drivers.

(TRT World and Agencies)

24 teams, 30 days, 10 venues

After 272 hard-fought qualifying matches, 24 teams are set to do battle in the biggest European Championship in history.
Only 16 teams have participated in the tournament since England hosted it in 1996, but 2016 will see 24 teams vie for the crown.

The teams have been divided into six groups, with the top two qualifying for the last 16. They will be joined by four third-placed finishers.
The knockout format will follow the last 16 with the final being played at the Stade de Paris on July 10.

(TRT World and Agencies)


Spain and Germany have won the title three times each and as is the case ahead of every major football tournament, the two teams will be carrying a reputation.

With the Netherlands not having qualified for the first time since 1984, Spain and Germany will be feeling a bit more comfortable.

Hosts France did not have to qualify for the tournament, and may be guilty of not having enough miles on them ahead of the tournament. But with a nation's hopes pinned on them, the players may rise above and galvanise their beleaguered countrymen.

England played 10 qualifying matches and did not lose once. A squad full of young stars such as Harry Kane, Delle Alli, Raheem Sterling, Adam Rashford, combined with Jamie Vardy's magic touch, could end the team's 50-year barren run.

Debutants Wales, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Albania and the nation ever to qualify, Iceland, will be hoping to spring a few more surprises, but a shot at the title could be a bit of a stretch. Or could it?

(TRT World and Agencies)

The stars

Cristiano Ronaldo

"Cristiano can't win alone. No one can win matches on their own," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.

Santos' comments were a reflection of how much Portugal are relying on their star man.

Euro 2016 will be Ronaldo's fourth championship and with all individual and club titles already in the cupboard, the 31-year-old will be looking to finally get some silverware with Portugal.

He banished doubts over his fitness with his two-goal display in Lisbon that allowed Portugal to head for France full of confidence.

Thomas Muller

Famously mistaken as a ballboy by Diego Maradona after his Germany debut in 2010, Thomas Muller will need no introduction at Euro 2016.

Despite having earned 71 caps and scored 32 goals for Germany, Muller, who floats around the attack with no fixed position, is still only 26 and is able to walk into club or country starting lines.

Arda Turan

Turan stands out as one of the most gifted Turkish players of his generation.

The 29-year-old was instrumental in the success of Galatasaray and Atletico Madrid before moving to Barcelona.

"Every day I work more and try and be better. Both for my country and for the national team," he said.

(TRT World and Agencies)

Eden Hazard

Hazard stopped short of branding Belgium as favourites, despite being the highest ranked European team -- at second behind Argentina -- in the FIFA list.

If Hazard is on song, and working well in tandem with Kevin De Bruyne, then Belgium will have two much-feared players, capable of dictating the outcome of most matches.

Paul Pogba

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked with him. L'Equipe newspaper said Chelsea tried to tempt Juventus with a 95 million euro ($102m) offer last year.

The value of Pogba as an asset is widely recognised.

"He arouses fascination as much as people demand great things from him. He is not a defensive midfielder nor an attacking midfielder...Often when one sees him play, one feels they have never seen such a phenomenon," L'Equipe recently summed up.

Gareth Bale

Real Madrid's Bale -- the world's most expensive player at about 100 million euros ($111 million) -- is the star of the Wales squad.

The 26-year-old netted seven of Wales' 11 goals in their 10 qualifying games and will need to score plenty more if Wales are to proceed to the knockouts.

New rules


The current law says the ball must go forward at kick-off and players have to be in their own half. The rule is being changed to allow the ball to go in any direction at kick-off as long as it moves.

Pre-match red cards

Referees will be able to punish red-card offences any time after the pre-match inspection.

No 'triple punishment'

A foul inside the box will not result in an automic red card. The rule aims to end the 'penalty, dismissal and suspension' triple punishment.

Penalty kicks

Players feigning penalty kicks when next to the ball will be awarded yellow cards while a goalkeeper who comes off his line will receive the same reprimand.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies