The tournament hasn't really gripped in the same manner as previous tournaments of this nature and I am not sure why? It looks like a decent event with plenty of good teams and the format means the 'less competitive' games you can sometimes see at the World Cup are not really here.
Which other tournament would see the matches of the calibre of Germany-Portugal, Spain-Italy and France-England in the first four days? I am looking forward to the football to begin and am very pleased that the times are almost perfectly for when we come out of work.
Spain qualified with eight straight wins from eight games in their qualifying section, but there is a question mark to be answered as to who will provide the goals in the absence of Villa. Fernando Torres and Fernando Llorente are the main strikers likely to lead the line, but the absence of Roberto Soldado from the squad is a little head-scratching.
We know what we are going to get from Spain with the sharp passing, but Xavi is older and has had a long season and the absence of their main striker is hard to ignore. Add to that the issues at centre half without Puyol and they definitely look vulnerable.
Player to Watch: Fernando Torres- This sounds crazy in a squad full of talent, but you have to think Torres will need to fire if Spain are going to find enough goals for them to go all the way. I expect it will be Torres that starts ahead of Fernando Llorente, but the latter can be substituted into this spot if he does get the call.
Predicted Finish: Likely too strong for group, 1st
Memories of 2006 came flooding back as Italian football has once again been rocked by a match-fixing scandal, although it is to a lesser extent (at the moment at least) than back in 2006 when they went on to win the World Cup.
The Italians are not the power house of former years as coach Cesare Prandelli changes their method of playing the game and they are now a lot more exciting to watch than when I was growing up. However, I feel they lack the stars of the old days as they no longer have the Franco Baresis, Paolo Maldinis, Alessandro Del Pieros or Roberto Baggios to call upon.
Italy got through a tough looking qualification section with eight wins from ten games and they were unbeaten in those games. They also only conceded two goals in those games and I am not going to put too much into their recent disappointing results in friendlies which have seen them lose to the likes of the USA and Russia.
The key to their entire tournament may just rest on how they cope with all the scandal that has hit home- in 1982 and 2006 they went on to win the World Cup, but I find it tough to think they can do the same here.
Player to Watch: Mario Balotelli- This enigmatic player has all the talent in the World and there is no reason why he can't get hot for six games to help the Italians go far in this competition. This could be the perfect setting for Balotelli to really make a statement on the World stage, although he will need Andrea Pirlo's supply line to be working.
Predicted Finish: I wanted to oppose the Italians, but I think they sneak 2nd
This will be seen as a chance for redemption for a Croatia team that failed to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa after a truly heartbreaking loss to Turkey in the Quarter Final of the 2008 European Championship.
It could be said that the national team has never got back to the heights that saw them knock out England before the Euro 2008 tournament and also finish above the eventual Runner Up, Germany, in the group stages of that event. In the Quarter Final, Croatia scored in the 119th minute, but conceded in the 123rd minute before being beaten on penalties.
They actually finished behind Greece to qualify for this event and had to earn revenge over Turkey in the Play Offs to reach this stage, but there hasn't been enough to suggest they are ready to beat one of the big nations like Spain or Italy in this group.
There are plenty of talented players in the Croatian team, but defensively they look suspect and I am not sure how their midfield will hold up against the Spanish or Italians and I don't know if they have enough about them to break down Ireland.
Croatia have to get off to a good start in their first game against Ireland if they are to have a real chance of getting through to the next stage, but it looks a tough ask.
Player to Watch: Luka Modric- Can Modric pull the strings and help create the chances needed against the tough midfields the Italians and Spanish will send out against them.
Predicted Finish: 4th
It has been ten years since the Irish last graced a major international tournament and a lot of their fans will feel it has been a long time coming after the way they were put of the World Cup thanks to a Thierry Henry handball.
It is already an achievement for them to make it into the final 16 teams in Europe, but the draw has not been kind to them and while they are going to be tough and determined, I don't believe they have enough attacking options to cause either Spain or Italy too many problems.
Giovanni Trapattoni's experience will stand them in good stead and they have not lost to the Italians under his guidance, but they will need more than 3 draws if they have a real belief they can qualify for the Quarter Finals (and a potential match against England).
Ireland qualified by beating Estonia in the Play Offs, but they were only beaten once in a tough group along with Russia and Slovakia, while they were unbeaten in their games away from home. They will be well drilled as I said, but it looks too much for them to finish higher than third in this group.
Player to Watch: James McClean- The youngster has only 2 caps to his name but looked a real livewire for Sunderland in the Premier League and Ireland may need his goals from the wide areas to cause a surprise.
Predicted Finish: 3rd