Euro 2020 finally kicks off on Friday as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal prepare to defend their title and world champions France seek a rare double a year after the tournament was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

France’s fearsome forward line makes them favourites to win a third European crown at the pan-continental event, while top-ranked Belgium and a youthful England side will be major threats.

For the first time, the tournament is taking place in 11 cities across Europe —instead of one or two countries — despite the lingering shadow cast by the Covid-19 crisis.

Dublin and Bilbao were dropped from the list of host cities after being unable to give guarantees they could meet UEFA’s requirement of accommodating limited numbers of spectators, but Seville stepped in for Bilbao while Dublin’s games went to London and Saint Petersburg.

The action gets under way at Rome’s Olympic Stadium on Friday, where Italy take on Turkey in front of 16,000 fans.

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