A new chapter in the rich history of the European Championship will be written this summer when a record 24 teams compete in the finals in France.
The tournament began in humble circumstances when, in 1960, the French hosted a four-team competition that saw the Soviet Union triumph over their hosts, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia to become the inaugural European champions.
Fifty-five years later and the European Championship is a different beast altogether. Ten stadiums across France with a total capacity of around 500,000 seats will host 51 games in June and July during an incredible festival of football.
There are four teams in each Euro Football 2016 group and the top two are guaranteed progression to the last-16. Fans who have checked out the Euro Football 2016 odds know this is going to be a competitive tournament like we haven’t seen before.
So let’s take a look at which records could be broken in France…
Record title holders of the European Championships
Spain have dominated the last two European Championships and could be the first nation to ever win three successive titles. They are matched with Germany for the record with three each, although the Germans have reached the final on six occasions to Spain’s four.
Inaugural winners the Soviet Union would lose three further finals until their last appearance in 1988, while Denmark, Greece and the Netherlands (one trophy each) are the only nations to boast a 100% win record in finals.
World champions Germany are favourites to win the Euro Football 2016, followed by the hosts France and Spain.
Can the Euro Football 2016 top goalscorer beat Michel Platini?
Incredibly, France’s Michel Platini remains the record goalscorer in the European Championship with nine goals, despite only scoring in one tournament. Platini scored two hat-tricks during the group stage when France once again hosted the competition. He then scored the winning goal in extra time of France’s semi-final with Portugal and the opener in their 2-0 final triumph over Spain at the Parc des Princes.
There are two current players who have a realistic chance of overtaking Platini’s record this summer: Sweden’s top striker and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.
Both men boast six goals in the Euros, scoring at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 editions of the tournament. The Swede (11) was the second-highest scorer during Euro Football 2016 qualifying, while Ronaldo found the net five times.
Ronaldo is joint-favourite with France’s Olivier Giroud to be top scorer at the finals this summer.
England face the possibility of being the first nation to compete in 10 European Championships without winning a single tournament. They have played in every edition since 1988 and also crashed out in 1968 (when at the time world champions) and 1980.
England have reached the quarter-final stage of this tournament on eight occasions, a record, and are level with Hungary for semi-final appearances without ever reaching a final. They have great odds to make the final of Euro Football 2016. Portugal, meanwhile, have an equally frustrating record. No other team has reached four semi-finals without ever being champions. Portugal hosted Euro 2004 and made the final in Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz, only to lose 1-0 to minnows Greece.
Goals goals goals!
Spain went 509 minutes without conceding a goal at Euro 2012 and the likelihood is that record will remain for many years to come. The Spanish system of ball retention meant opposition teams were powerless to stop them four years ago. Spain conceded just one goal all tournament, during their 1-1 draw with Italy, who they subsequently pummelled 4-0 in the final.
Spain also boasted the highest goal difference of +11 from their exploits in Poland and Ukraine, while their goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, became the most-capped player at the European Championships with 11 appearances.
The fastest goal ever scored at the Euros was Dmitri Kirichenko’s 68-second strike for Russia against Greece in 2004, while Jesus Pareda’s sixth-minute effort in 1964 remains the fastest goal in a final.View market