It’s been a tough year or so for everyone but tournaments like the European Championships are the type of events to bring people together for good.
Across Europe, fans dream of being the victorious country that will climb up the Wembley steps and lift the iconic trophy, but it’s the non-stop football with three matches a day that gets us all in the mood.
The group stages not only mark the beginning of the tournament but help set the stone for the latter – and generation-defining – knockout rounds.
Sportsmail has previewed the 24 teams competing in the Euro 2020 group stages…
With this summer’s tournament closing in, Sportsmail previews each team participating in the competition and the star names to look out for…
The Turks may have missed out on the World Cup in Russia three years ago but a solid rebuild means they are a regular pick to be the dark horses at this year’s tournament.
Senol Gunes’ side edged out Iceland to qualify for the tournament but it’s the World Cup qualifying campaign that has caught the eye. Recent convincing victories over Holland and Erling Haaland’s Norway prove they can mix it with the big boys.
Turkey have picked up some impressive results recently with wins over Holland and Norway
One aspect that normally accompanies Turkey at major tournaments is their passionate fanbase, so the country’s fate could depend on how many of their supporters could be allowed into matches this summer.
Star man: Recent Premier League additions Ozan Kabak and Okay Yokuslu are expected to play important roles while AC Milan’s Hakan Cahnologlu will catch the eye.
But Turkey’s talisman is their captain Burak Yilmaz with 28 international goals to his name so far. The striker could come into the tournament having won Ligue 1 with Lille. Yilmaz has contributed 12 goals to the French club’s cause this season.
Burak Yilmaz is Turkey’s captain and talisman and is undergoing a goal-laden season with Lille
Like Turkey, Italy missed out on the 2018 World Cup in what was a major shock to the international football community.
The Italians responded to their first failure to reach a major tournament since 1958 by hiring former Manchester City Roberto Mancini, who has made an immediate impact to his country’s displays.
Gli Azzurri were one of only two teams to qualify for Euro 2020 with a 100 per cent record in qualifying but it’s Italy’s mix of youth and experience that is the most eye-catching part of this team.
Italy have improved dramatically under Roberto Mancini (left) over the past three years
Were the tournament held last summer then the likes of Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella and Alessandro Bastoni would have been deemed too raw for the biggest stage. Now Italy’s young stars are one year more experienced which could boost the country’s chances.
Star man: Italy’s front line is menacing with the likes of Ciro Immobile and Federico Bernadeschi to pick from. But Lorenzo Insigne is likely to be the key star for Mancini’s men this summer.
The Napoli captain has the pace, drive and composure up front to unlock any defence .
Lorenzo Insigne (left) is the man Italy are likely to turn to for creative insporation this summer
The Welsh were the surprise package in the European Championships five years ago – reaching the semi-finals by beating Belgium on the way – and they are hoping to produce a similar display in this tournament.
Whether Ryan Giggs will be in charge of his country is still up in the air after a disciplinary issue, but Robert Page’s side showed in their victory against the Czech Republic that they can do a job without the Manchester United legend.
Aaron Ramsey’s fitness has been a thorn in Wales’ side over the years so progression out of this tough group could depend on that.
Wales are heading back to the European Championships, but will Ryan Giggs be in charge?
But there is plenty more that meets the eye when it comes to this country’s national team, including Manchester United’s Dan James.
Star man: Who else? Gareth Bale may have had a mixed time at Tottenham this season but he will be front and centre when it comes to Wales’ success in Euro 2020.
The on-loan forward from Real Madrid can produce the magic moment that Wales may have to rely on this summer.
Any success Wales have this summer is dependent on Gareth Bale’s consistency up front
The Swiss have reached yet another major tournament and have kicked on from their World Cup last-16 exit.
Vladimir Petkovic’s side finished fourth in the Nations League the following summer and lost to England on penalties in the third-placed play-off. They then went on to finish top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group ahead of Ireland and Denmark.
The Swiss have shown against Germany and Spain in recent fixtures that they can challenge any team in this competition and are on a six-match unbeaten run dating back to October.
Switzerland have picked up solid results against Germany and Spain in recent months
With attacking players such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic in their side, the hard-working outfit could cause some problems for the bigger side.
Star man: Just behind the front three will lies Granit Xhaka, who was installed as Switzerland captain back in September after Stephan Lichtsteiner retired.
The Arsenal midfielder is the heartbeat and the metronome in this side and could be an unsung hero this summer.
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka will lead his Switzerland side out this summer as captain
Matches to look out for: All four teams will believe they stand a solid chance of reaching the knockout stages, so it should result in end-to-end matches with no signs of sitting back.
The eyes of Europe will be on Italy vs Turkey which opens the summer tournament at the Stadio Olimpico on June 11.
It’s been nearly 30 years since Denmark stunned the continent to win the 1992 European Championships but the great Danes are back after failing to qualify for Euro 2016.
There’s plenty of English interest in this Danish side with Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel in goal, west London duo Andreas Christensen and Joachim Andersen in defence along with Jannik Vestegaard and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield.
The Danes stunned England at Wembley in the Nations League towards the back end of last year so keep an eye out on this side who can certainly harm opponents.
Christian Eriksen scored the winner as Denmark stunned England in the 2020 Nations League
Star man: Up front, Yussuf Poulsen has a history of turning up for Denmark at a major tournament, Andreas Skov Olsen is one to look out for as well and Martin Braithwaite is also an option too.
But Christian Eriksen’s recent revival at Inter Milan will give the country hope that he can produce when needed this summer.
Watch out for the new kids on the block. Finland’s brilliant qualifying campaign saw them breeze through the rounds to reach their first ever major tournament.
The Finns pushed aside the likes of Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Armenia to seal their spot in this summer’s tournament, despite having a population of five million people.
Finland are one of the European Championships’ new boys after qualifying last year
There is also several players with British connections to this team as well. Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, formerly of Arsenal, is expected to line up in the midfield – while defender Daniel O’Shaugnessy was played at non-league Braintree Town just six years ago.
Star man: Captain Tim Sparv is the beating heart of Finland in the midfield but the country’s area of expertise is up front. A good summer for Brentford striker Marcus Forss could earn him a big move with Joel Pohjanpalo is rising through the ranks in Germany.
Their talisman, however, is Teemu Pukki who has 30 goals in 90 games for his country and 25 for Norwich City this season.
Finland have Teemy Pukki as their star man up front who has been scoring loads for Norwich
In this tournament, if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. And Belgium are the best. That’s according to the FIFA world rankings as Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils aim to win their first ever major tournament with their star-studded squad.
Belgium were, along with Italy, the other side to reach the European finals with a 100 per cent record in qualification. That comes as no surprise when you look at the quality they have in attack.
Roberto Martinez’s (left) Belgium come into the tournament as the world’s best ranked team
However, one issue for Belgium remains their defence, with Martinez struggling to find replacements for Vincent Kompany and veteran duo Jan Verthonghen and Thomas Vermaelen who are still regularly picked.
Star man: Romelu Lukaku is the talisman up front for Belgium and his good relationship with former Everton boss Roberto Martinez makes this a deadly striker-manager duo.
However, much of Belgium’s success will depend on how much quality Kevin de Bruyne can produce in the tournament. The Manchester City star can unlock any defence with a splitting pass through midfield.
Kevin de Bruyne is expected to be one of the standout players in the summer tournament
The Russians have now reached their fifth consecutive major tournament but have only qualified out of the group stage once since they reached the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2008.
But as England found out in 2016, underestimate the Russians as your peril and Stanislav Cherchesov’s men will fancy themselves to sneak into the knockout rounds ahead of the less experienced Denmark and Finland.
Russia’s achilles heel is that most of their squad has stayed the same since the 2018 World Cup.
Russia have now reached their fifth consecutive tournament for this summer’s tournament
The lack of talent coming through ver the past few years is summed up by 37-year-old Yuri Zhirkov and 34-year-old Fyodor Kudryashov still playing major roles at this level.
Star man: Another veteran who is still kicking about is Russia captain Artem Dzyuba.
The 32-year-old striker’s record of 29 goals in 50 caps should not be dismissed so quickly and the 6ft 6in Zenit St Petersburg man can bully defenders with ease.
The Russians has 6ft 6in striker Artem Dzyuba as their key man up front for the tournament
Matches to look out for: Russia will be looking for revenge against Belgium, who knocked them out of the 2014 group stage thanks to a 1-0 win courtesy of Divock Origi’s late winner. Keep an eye on all of Finland’s games – the new boys are more difficult to sweep aside as some may think.
After the turmoil of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Holland began a revival under Ronald Koeman – reaching this summer’s tournament with ease and also finishing as Nations League runners-up in 2019.
But Koeman’s departure to Barcelona as derailed the Netherlands slightly, with former Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer struggling to convince the Dutch fans with his management so far.
Ex-Crystal Palace flop Frank de Boer (middle) is in charge of Holland’s fate this summer
Recent disappointing results against Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey along with Virgil van Dijk’s expected absence have raised doubts about how far this Dutch team can go – but the Oranje still have some players capable of stealing some of the tournament spotlight.
Star man: Memphis Depay’s form for Lyon gives Holland a talisman up front but Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum is the unsung hero in midfield.
The 30-year-old has a brilliant international goals record with 22 strikes in 73 caps. He will be one to stop.
Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum (right) is a very regular source of goals at international level
Andriy Shevchenko is Ukraine’s all-time record goalscorer and was the big-game player for his country in major tournaments throughout his 17-year career on the international stage.
Now the former striker has the task of taking his country into a major tournament as a manager for the first time this summer.
Ukraine’s pre-tournament form has been mixed. Shevchenko’s men have one win in their last ten matches but that victory was one over Spain – showing Ukraine can turn up on their day.
Legendary Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko is in charge of his country at Euro 2020
The Yellow and Blues have also picked up a credible draw away at France since the turn of the year so they have proved to be a thorn in the big team’s hopes in the past.
Star man: He may play the majority of his games at left-back for Manchester City but Oleksandr Zinchenko is the key man in midfield for this Ukraine side.
Goalkeeper Ondrey Pyatov is another stalwart in this side and the captain is set to pass 100 caps for his country at the tournament.
Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko (left) is one of Ukraine’s senior stars at the moment
Austria have reached their third European Championships campaign in four attempts but benefited from a rather straight forward qualifying group with Poland, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Israel and Latvia.
Franco Foda also has a talented squad at his disposal which includes the likes of Marcel Sabitzer, Valentino Lazaro and Marco Arnautovic, while Christian Baumgartner could be the break-out European star in this summer’s tournament.
England will discover how much talent this Austria side has when the two sides meet in a pre-tournament friendly in Middlesbrough at the start of June.
Austria will be captained at Euro 2020 by Real Madrid-bound defender David Alaba
Star man: Despite all the talent at the top end of the pitch, soon-to-be Real Madrid defender David Alaba will be tasked with leading his side to clean sheets this summer.
The 28-year-old has the experience of playing at the highest stage that is lacking in the rest of this squad.
Here come the other new boys. North Macedonia were the surprise package that reached their first ever major tournament after coming through the play-offs at the back end of 2020.
North Macedonia caused the shock of all shocks in March by beating Germany 2-1 away
That achievement has not even been the best achievement in the minnows’ last 12 months, as Igor Angelovski’s men managed to beat Germany in the March international break that stunned the world of football.
Not many people will know much about North Macedonia but as Joachim Low’s side found out, underestimating them will be dangerous.
Star man: Leeds United’s Ezgjan Alioski is one of the more recognisable faces in this North Macedonia squad while Napoli midfielder Elif Elmas will be one to watch as well, but striker Goran Pandev is the key man up front in this side.
Former Inter Milan forward Goran Pandev (above) is the country’s top scorer and talisman
With 37 international goals to his name so far, the 37-year-old will be his country’s main man.
Matches to look out for: Clashes against neighbours Austria and Ukraine tend to be spicy while any of North Macedonia’s clashes should be exciting.
It’s been 25 years since football came home back in 1996, but with the vital parts of this tournament taking place at Wembley – Gareth Southgate’s men look as capable as ever of winning their first major tournament since 1966.
England go into this tournament as one of the favourites to win the summer competition
The Three Lions’ squad is packed with exciting youngsters next to players experienced with the heartbreak of the 2018 World Cup semi-final exit to Croatia.
Southgate’s side have moved on to another level since the tournament in Russia as Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish are likely to all be in the mix for a starting spot.
There are a few issues to work out – such back three or back four and how many right-backs will the England coach take, but the Three Lions are rightly placed as one of the tournament favourites.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions will be relying on captain and star striker Harry Kane (left)
Star man: England’s key men are all over the pitch but only one has a guaranteed starting spot in this side. Harry Kane has a superb international record with 34 goals in 53 matches.
His club future will be under a spotlight this summer so another good tournament to follow his 2018 Golden Boot triumph could seal a big-money move.
They reached the World Cup final in their last international tournament and Croatia will back themselves to have another crack at a first ever tournament victory this time around.
Croatia will be a tricky opponent for England once again due to their quality squad
Zlatko Dalic’s side may have lost talisman Mario Mandzukic since then but their other strikers are having top seasons at their clubs – such as Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric and Dinamo Zagreb’s Mislav Orsic.
Other experienced players such as Sime Vrsaljko, Mateo Kovacic, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic are all at the top end of the European club pyramid so expect another organised and clinical Croatia side this time round.
Star man: Croatia’s star is undoubtedly Luka Modric, who won the Ballon D’Or the last time his country was involved in a major international tournament. The Real Madrid midfielder’s consistency will be a key asset in this tricky group.
Real Madrid’s Luka Modric (left) will be the key man for Croatia once again this summer
The Tartan Army are coming! For the first time since 1998, Scotland will be playing in a major tournament and what a group they have been placed in.
Steve Clarke’s squad is of a good age but the Scots may also be backed by some passionate fans at Hampden Park which could be the difference as they play some tricky ties.
Scotland are back at a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France
With Liverpool’s Andy Robertson, Manchester United’s Scott McTominay and Arsenal’s Kieran Tierey in their side, Scotland could surprise a few this summer – they may have to wait another 23 years for this moment again after all.
Star man: While the likes of Robertson and Tierney will look after the defensive side of things, Aston Villa’s John McGinn will be the main creative inspiration at the other end of the pitch.
No current Scotland player has scored more international goals than the 26-year-old who has a few big international goals to his name already.
Aston Villa’s John McGinn is going to be Scotland’s most likely source for goals this summer
Only one team managed to beat England during their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and that was the Czech Republic.
Jaroslav Silhavy’s men are capable of springing a surprise or two while they also held Belgium to a draw recently. Consistency is an issue for this Czech Republic side too, a recent disappointing defeat to Wales proves exactly that.
Czech Republic were the only team to beat England in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign
There is plenty of Premier League interest in this Czech side too, with Matej Vydra’s recent form for Burnley an encouraging sign given the country have failed to replace Jan Koller and Milan Baros up front.
Star man: The Czech Republic have a Hammers heartbeat in their team. Vladimir Coufal will get forward from right-back but Tomas Soucek is likely to be the key attacking star this summer.
The West Ham man is closing in on ten Premier League goals this season and is his country’s one to watch this summer.
Tomas Soucek (left) will be hoping to take his West Ham form into the Czech’s Euro 2020 bid
Matches to look out for: England will be looking for revenge on Croatia for the 2018 World Cup exit when they play their first game and Czech Republic have shown they can beat the Three Lions.
And what a match that England vs Scotland derby will be on June 18.
Under former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, Spain have undergone a bit of a resurgence after crashing out of the last World Cup to hosts Russia.
Exciting youngsters such as Eric Garcia, Ferran Torres and Pedri have come through the ranks to compliment senior stars such as David de Gea, Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio.
Luis Enrique (right) is leading Spain’s quest to reclaim their European Championships crown
A 6-0 thrashing of Germany at the end of the November shows just how dangerous Enrique’s side can be, though a recent loss to Ukraine hints at a sign of inconsistency too.
Star man: He may have suffered some injuries during this season with Real Madrid but Sergio Ramos is in line to lead his country once again this summer.
The centre-back is closing in on 200 Spain caps and is sure to influence both ends of the pitch.
Sergio Ramos is closing in on 200 caps for Spain and will affect both penalty boxes
The last European Championships were set to be his last but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back five years later to cause more damage on the international stage.
The 39-year-old striker came out of international retirement after Sweden sealed their qualification at Euro 2020 and is looking to build on his whopping 62 international goals this summer.
Ibrahimovic has increased the average age of an already experienced Sweden squad – who still call upon the likes of veterans Marcus Berg, Mikael Lusting and Sebastian Larsson at major tournaments.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back for Sweden after retiring after Euro 2016 nearly five years ago
Star man: Along with the ageing stars and Ibrahimovic, there are a couple of young players to look out for.
Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak has been making headlines in Spain but Dejan Kulusevski is a very exciting youngster.
The Juventus man has an eye for goal with several tricks up his sleeve.
Ibrahimovic is likely to partner Juventus’ Dejan Kulusevski (right) in attack for the Swedes
This Poland side showed exactly what they were capable of by nearly holding England to a draw at Wembley.
Harry Maguire’s late winner edged Gareth Southgate’s men past this side but the Three Lions were given a mighty scare.
Managed by former Leicester City, QPR and Swansea boss Paulo Sousa, Poland qualified for the tournament with ease but have lost just one out of their last five matches in all competitions.
Paulo Sousa’s (second right) Poland gave England an almighty scare at Wembley last month
But with one of the world’s hottest number nines captaining their side, this squad of players have a danger man capable of getting through any defence.
Star man: Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski was probably gutted when Euro 2020 was postponed by a year last summer.
The Poland captain was in the form of his career last season but his 42 goals so far for Bayern make him one of the tournament’s best forwards.
Poland will be hoping Robert Lewandowski’s recent injury problems subside for the finals
Slovakia have now qualified for two straight European Championships after going through the Nations League route.
They made it through the group stages five years ago at Euro 2016 but will find it much tougher to get through these experienced opponents.
Long-term boss Jan Kozak has now departed with Stefan Tarkovic taking over having previously managed his country’s Women’s under-19 squad and Under-18s Men’s team.
Slovakia are back in another major tournament after qualifying for Euro 2016 last time out
Star man: Another tournament for Slovakia, another time for Marek Hamsik to lead his country out on the biggest stage. The 33-year-old, playing at IFK Goteborg in Sweden, has 26 goals in 126 caps for his country.
Matches to look out for: Zlatan vs Lewa may be the most interesting striker battle this summer, should both of them come back from injury in time. Meanwhile, Slovakia beat Spain in a Euro 2016 qualifier in 2014, can they do it again?
Stand up for the champions. Portugal come into this tournament with the Euro 2016 trophy still in their hands and are looking to join rivals Spain in winning back-to-back titles.
Champions Portugal have a superb squad from Ruben Dias (left) to Bruno Fernandes (right)
One factor that will help their cause is the emergence of several top-class talents on Europe’s biggest stage since their triumph in France five years ago. Players such as Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo have come to the fore.
Keep going down the squad list and you will find Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Danilo Pereira. The 2019 Nations League victory shows this Portugal side show no signs of slowing down in terms of collecting trophies.
Star man: Not a difficult one this. Cristiano Ronaldo recently surpassed 100 goals at international level and is targeting another team honour at the age of 36.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be Portugal’s leader once again as they defend their Euro 2016 honour
Portugal’s captain will be one of the high-profile stars in this tournament but Ronaldo now has back up.
From the champions of Europe to the champions of the world. Didier Deschamps’ men are trying to go for the World Cup-Euros double that they managed to achieve 20 years ago.
Les Bleus turned to incredible squad depth in Russia three years ago and that talent pool is now even bigger following the introduction of Edouardo Camavinga and Houssem Aouar to the international stage.
France will face Portugal in the groups this summer in a repeat of the Euro 2016 final
But above that lie the recognised world-class talents such as Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele – the latter finally looking like a top talent at Barcelona this season.
Star man: Is this Kylian Mbappe‘s chance to stamp his authority as football’s new main man?
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s age clocks are ticking and Erling Haaland has not made the tournament with Norway this time.
Another top tournament would cement his place at the top.
Kylian Mbappe (right) will have the chance to cement his status as one of the world’s top stars
The third heavyweight in this group is a bit lighter compared to previous years. But Germany will be hoping to give Joachim Low a top send-off in his final international tournament as national team coach.
The 2014 World Cup-winning manager will be stepping down after the summer tournament after 15 years at the helm.
Sadly for Low, his side have gone from world champions to an inconsistent outfit in the space of three years.
This summer’s tournament will be Joachim Low’s final as Germany manager after 15 years
Since going out of the World Cup group stage, Germany have been relegated from the inaugural Nations League top division and also suffered a shock defeat to minnows North Macedonia.
The nasty surprises are still there for the Germans.
Star man: llkay Gundogan and Leon Goretzka have had brilliant years, Serge Gnabry should feature regularly and Manuel Neuer will always be Manuel Neuer, but Joshua Kimmich should be the heartbeat of this German team.
The Bayern Munich star is expected to control games and thread attacks from deep.
Joshua Kimmich (middle) will be the beating heart of this underperforming Germany side
Poor Hungary. They must have had so much optimism coming into this tournament only to be drawn against the reigning European champions and the last two World Cup winners in their group.
But despite having a relatively easy road to this tournament, Hungary have impressed over the past couple years – losing just one match since the beginning of 2020.
Hungary have a major job on their hands if they want to qualify out of the ‘Group of Death’
A concern for the Hungarians is the current fitness of star midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai as the 20-year-old has missed most of the season with adductor problems.
Getting the RB Leipzig man back to full fitness will be key to determining whether the Hungarians can get out of this particularly challenging group.
Star man: Other than Szoboszlai, Hungary have another RB Leipzig star in their squad in the form of goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi. The shot stopper has proved over the last two years he can handle heavy pressure on Europe’s biggest stage.
Hungary’s ken man is goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi – who currently plays of RB Leipzig in Germany
Matches to look out for: All of them. This group is so good, just watch all of them. Especially if Hungary put up a surprise fight.
France vs Portugal will be a repeat of the Euro 2016 final while Les Bleus beat Germany on the way to that stage five years ago. Revenge on the cards all round.