From June 10, EURO fever will grip the world, with top European nations battling it out on the field for the elite continental crown in France.
This edition marks the first time that 24 teams will be participating in the European Championship, 8 more than the regular 16.
While two-time defending champions Spain will look to defend their crown, four new entrants will looking to crash the party for the so-called biggies of European football.
This edition of the EUROs will also re-ignite some of the most fierce footballing rivalries, while also forming some new rivalries.
Here are five of the most fierce encounters that are sure to be nerve-wreckers and a must watch in the upcoming EUROs.
1. Switzerland vs Albania – June 11, Lens
Not one of the most exciting match at the EUROs if you are not familiar with the non-footballing reasons that make it a very interesting rivarly.
Albanian team comprises of several players who were born in Switzerland like Amir Abrashi, Arlind Ajeti, Migjen Basha, Shkëlzen Gashi and Frédéric Veseli.
While players like Naser Aliji, Lorik Cana, Burim Kukeli and Ermir Lenjani have reportedly “spent significant parts of their childhood in the Alpine nation.”
While the Swiss squad also has a number of players of Albanian ethnicity, players like Granit Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi, Xherdan Shaqiri, Valon Behrami and Blerim Džemaili. Xhaka will also have an added rivarly in the match as he will play against his brother Taulant Xhaka who opted to play for Albania at the international level.
2. Austria vs Hungary – June 14, Bordeaux
Austria vs Hungary is the second most played international match in international football after Uruguay vs Argentina.
This fixture is also historically significant, as the two countries have had long-standing rivalries in the past.
The first match between the two neighbours took place in 1902, and the last time the two played each other was over a decade ago.
3. Belgium vs Italy – 14 June, Lyon
Both the team boast of big names and much s expected from them in the up-coming EUROs with many pundits backing them to make it till the very last.
Belgium have been riding high in international football, with their “golden generation” while Italy are always a consistent team in big competitions with their tactical supremacy.
Whats more interesting is that the two head-coaches Antonio Conte – Italy and Marc Wilmots – Belgium, both played for their countries the last time the two teams met in the EUROs in 2000.
Also Italy have not lost to Belgium since 1972.
4. England vs Wales – June 16, Lens
The two teams have not played each-other much in the last three decades, with just five meetings.
But the two British teams have a very competitive and fierce rivarly, and the French police are said to be making special arrangements for this game.
It was also reported that alcohol was going to be banned for this game.
5. Germany vs Poland – June 16, Saint-Denis
80,000 fans will be cheering for their teams in a game which for many means a lot more than just football.
Poland still has people who witnessed the occupation of Nazi Germany, and the wounds are yet to be filled.
Polish fans and players are always hyped about this fixture.
And even though Germany have only lost once to Poland, That 2-0 win has given Poles the confidence that they can beat the Germans any day.