Euro 2016: Six group stage matches not to be missed

The 15th edition of the European Championship kicks off on June 10 (June 11 Singapore time) and will feature a collection of football's biggest names. The month-long tournament will be held in France, which also hosted the inaugural Euros in 1960 and the 1984 edition.

This will be the biggest Euros following the expansion from 16 to 24 teams. Spain are chasing their third straight title after triumphs in 2008 and 2012. They also won in 1964 and are most successful team in the competition alongside Germany (1972, 1980 and 1996).

Before the identity of this year's champions are revealed on July 10 at the Stade de France in Paris, here are six group matches to watch.

June 11, 3am (all Singapore times)

Group A

France vs Romania, Stade de France in Paris

France's midfielder Paul Pogba (left) fights for the ball with Scotland's midfielder Darren Fletcher during the friendly football match between France and Scotland on June 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Les Bleus are the bookmakers' favourites to lift the trophy and they know a winning start will be the minimum requirement from an expectant nation.

France have an eye-catching midfield with the likes of Paul Pogba, N'golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi and have the ability to overrun their opponents.

The Romanians, however, conceded just two goals in qualifying for the best defensive record and will offer stiff resistance. It promises to be an intriguing opening night in the French capital.

June 14, 3am

Group E

Belgium vs Italy, Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne (left) and Finland's Perparim Hetemaj fight for the ball during a Friendly match between Belgium and Finland on June 1, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

A few years back, the Azzurri would have been clear favourites for this match yet the current team are a shadow of the side that won the 2006 World Cup.

But Antonio Conte's teams are notoriously difficult to break down and the Italians are experts at grinding out a result when necessary.

Belgium and their golden generation are the highest ranked team at the Euros, second in the world behind Argentina.

The Red Devils, led by Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, represent the force that must overcome the immovable object that is Italy.

June 15, 3am

Group F

Portugal vs Iceland, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (right) in action against Bulgaria's goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov on March 26, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Debutants Iceland were hugely impressive in Euro qualifying. They notched two impressive victories over the Netherlands and will fear no one, including Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.

The Scandinavians have set-piece specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson in their ranks. And they could spring a surprise or two during the tournament, particularly if they are underestimated by a Portuguese outfit expecting to cruise into the knockout rounds.

June 16, 9pm

Group B

England vs Wales, Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens

Harry Kane celebrates with Jamie Vardy after scoring the first goal for England on May 22, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The battle of Britain promises to be a mouth-watering clash.

It has been 32 years since Wales last defeated their English counterparts (1-0 thanks to a Mark Hughes winner at the 1984 British Home Championship) and Gareth Bale and Co. will be desperate to end that run.

But England, with strikers Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in top form, possess the fire-power to heap more misery on their neighbours.

June 17, 3am

Group C

Germany vs Poland, Stade de France in Paris

Poland's Robert Lewandowski in action on June 2, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The World Cup champions, with 14 members from the triumphant squad in Brazil two years ago, will start as overwhelming favourites.

Yet Die Mannschaft, missing Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus through injury, come into the Euros having lost three of their last four warm-up friendlies.

Polish hit-man Robert Lewandowski may ply his trade in the German Bundesliga with Bayern Munich but could be the source of German heartbreak.

June 22, 3am

Group D

Croatia vs Spain, Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux

Alvaro Morata (left) celebrates with Pedro Rodriguez (centre) and Marc Batra (right) after scoring a goal during the international friendly soccer match between Spain and South Korea on June 1, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

La Roja will be seeking redemption after a disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil and a record fourth European Championship trophy will be the perfect answer to their critics.

They are unbeaten in their last 12 games at the European Championships, the longest run in the history of the competition. Their last defeat in the tournament dates back to 2004 against Portugal.

Spain manager Vicente del Bosque will be looking to blend established talents like Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta alongside emerging stars like Koke and Alvaro Morata.

Croatia are the biggest threat in a tough group that includes Turkey and the Czech Republic and the outcome of this final group match could be decisive.

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