MATCHUPS TO WATCH
The best games within the games
FRANCE VS. FRANCE Les Bleus (right) are immensely talented, but they have a tendency to get in their own way. (Remember World Cup 2010?) This time they opted not to select star forward Karim Benzema after he was accused in a sex-tape blackmail scandal (which he has denied). The alleged victim: midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, who was also left off the team.
ENGLAND VS. WALES The U.K. won't be united when these Group B teams meet on June 16. Wales (in its first major tourney since 1958) hasn't beaten England in 32 years, but Welsh forward Gareth Bale will be the best player on the pitch. Adding to the intrigue: Bale could have represented England; he chose Wales.
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI VS. GERMANY'S BACK FOUR Die Mannschaft is the Group C favorite, but don't doubt the Poles—mostly because they have one of the world's best true strikers. Here Lewandowski will be pitted against familiar faces: Bayern Munich teammates Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and, in goal, Manuel Neuer.
Three Euro debutants who'll define the summer tournament
Producer of 46 EPL goals for Tottenham over the last two seasons, Kane, 22 (above), enters Euro 2016 as Roy Hodgson's most prolific scorer. The Wayne Rooney era is over.
At 19, he has already suited up for the likes of PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich, for whom he played a huge role in a deep Champions League run. The pacy winger is on the cusp of superstardom.
Believe it or not, the 26-year-old Real Madrid winger (the most expensive transfer in history) hasn't yet played in a major international tournament, partly because of a back injury before the '12 Olympics and partly because, well, he plays for Wales.
Four killer coifs that'll catch your eye
The new and the obsolete of this year's Euro
At Euro '12, Ukraine was unfairly denied an equalizer against England; refs ruled the ball didn't cross the goal line. There'll be no such controversy in France.
Among the last-man-in beneficiaries in the jump up from 16 teams (the standard since '96): Albania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland and ...
After narrowly missing out on World Cup '14, the island nation of 330,000 enters its first major tourney, making it the smallest nation ever at a Euro.
After winning World Cup '10 and the last two Euros, Spain's aura of invincibility evaporated in Brazil. This team is talented (see: De Gea, David) but no longer the favorite.
For the first time since Euro '00, Germany enters a major tourney without its top all-time scorer. Joachim Löw has scoring options—but no true striker to fill Klose's Nikes.
To those who say the expanded field made qualification too easy, we present: the disastrous Dutch, who failed to qualify for the first time in 32 years.
SI plots a realistic (albeit très cher) Euro voyage, with a little help from Airbnb
FRA-ROU, TUR-CRO, IRL-SWE, ROU-SUI, GER-POL
Luxury Apt. in Champs--Élysées: Even with all of Paris at your feet, you may not feel inclined to leave this sleek 5BR. $826/nt
St. Emilion Luxury Villa: Break up your match-viewing in French wine country at this quaint 4BR villa 40 km outside the city. $1,997/nt
F WINNER VS. E RUNNER-UP
Château Fajac la Relenque: With 16 beds, this place could nearly accommodate an entire Euro side. $1,480/nt
B RUNNER-UP VS. F RUNNER-UP
Beautiful flat in the heart of Nice: This spacious 4BR Vieille Ville ("old town") apartment is steps from the Mediterranean. $448/nt
JUNE 30--JULY 4
Le Swan: Marseille is France's busiest seaport, so a short stay on a teeny (1BR) wooden sailboat seems appropriate. $82/nt
Three-BR luxury apartment: In the heart of Lyon, walking distance to the Musée des Beaux-Arts and a gorgeous city hall. $236/nt
Two BR in the heart of Versailles: This sunny, modern apartment might pale in comparison to the Sun King's royal château—but we doubt you'll complain. $184/nt