France will kick off UEFA EURO 2016 at the Stade de France, the venue which will also host the final, after the tournament's match schedule was announced today.
Article top media content
The Stade de France in Saint-Denis will stage the opening game and final at UEFA EURO 2016 after the tournament's match schedule was announced today.
France will play in the curtain-raiser, which kicks off at 21.00CET on Friday 10 June, with the hosts also having group stage games in Marseille and Lille. The final takes place on 10 July, the 51st match in a tournament that is embracing 24 teams for the first time.
Each of the ten host cities will host a minimum of four matches: three group contests and a knockout tie, with bigger capacity stadiums staging games from the quarter-finals onwards. The six group winners, the six group runners-up and the four best third-placed teams will qualify for the round of 16. The schedule has been designed so that teams advancing from the same group will only be able to face each other again if they reach the final.
There will be three standard kick-off times (all CET): 15.00, 18.00 and 21.00, with the last matches in each group to be played simultaneously. All teams will play their group matches in three different locations, thus enabling local fans to see different sides, with venues 'paired up' so that there will be no matches in the same region on the same day.
The schedule was announced following a meeting of the UEFA EURO 2016 steering group in Paris, and UEFA President Michel Platini said: "I believe the calendar is great for fans since they will get the chance to see several teams and matches in or around their respective regions. Fans of a particular team are also now encouraged to travel around France to follow their team and discover the beauty the country has to offer.
"As far as the teams are concerned, I think it is great they can rotate between venues," Mr Platini added. "It means nobody will have a so-called 'home advantage' by playing several times in the same stadium."
The Stade de France is no stranger to hosting big games, having held the 1998 FIFA World Cup final and the 2006 UEFA Champions League decider. The semi-finals will be staged at the redeveloped Stade Vélodrome in Marseille and the brand new Stade de Lyon.
"We are already eagerly looking forward to this memorable Rendez-Vous in June of 2016," the UEFA President added. "It promises to be a fantastic celebration of football in a colourful and festive environment."