No country has ever won three consecutive major tournament finals but that is what Spain are aiming to achieve in Poland and Ukraine.
Just four nations have won back-to-back titles. Germany were European champions in 1972 and World Cup winners in 1974 but lost the final of Euro '76 on penalties.
France won the World Cup in 1998 and the Euros two years later but crashed out early at Korea-Japan 2002. And Brazil were world champions in 2002 and won the Copa America in 2004 but fell to France at the quarter-final stage in 2006.
The fourth, of course, are Vicente del Bosque's defending champions and they look well-equipped to make it three in a row. Sure, they have key players injured in Carles Puyol and David Villa.
But just take a look at the rest of the line-up, and consider the guys who were either absent or bit players in South Africa two years ago but today are full-fledged superstars: Javi Martinez, Alvaro Negredo, David Silva, Fernando Llorente, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, Jordi Alba...
Yes, it's a knockout tournament and anything can happen. And, sure, you can talk about hunger and motivation and whether you can be as single-minded when you've already won everything in sight. But the fact is Spain are the best side at the Euros by some margin.
Conventional wisdom holds that Germany are their closest challengers and they certainly have talent and depth, although if you nitpick you might find that in some positions, they're somewhat underserved or patched up.
Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger, so effective at shielding the back four in South Africa both come into the Euros in indifferent form. Mario Gomez may be a goal machine but when he's bad, he's truly awful, as we saw in the Champions League final. And the defenders look better as individuals as they do as a unit.
Still, Jogi Loew has been plotting revenge against Spain for several years and has the tools to get some vengeance. There's a major drop-off after the two co-favourites. Holland have the big names, but have major issues in terms of chemistry and identity.
Simply put, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben – Bert van Marwijk's big three – do not play well together. Which is why many in Holland would rather see the more orthodox Klaas-Jan Huntelaar up front. As for identity, Van Marwijk's uber-defensive counter-attacking doesn't just displease the purists, it's also distinctly anti-Dutch and probably unsuited to the squad. And then there's the back four: undersized and rather ordinary.
On paper, France are brimming with talent, but it remains to be seen whether Laurent Blanc can channel Les Bleus into a coherent side. The defence, again, looks somewhat dubious (Philippe Mexes at centre- half?) and the egos up front can be tough to manage.
Blanc's status as a national institution no doubt helps, as does the fact he's not Raymond Domenech, but the legacy of what happened two years ago still lingers.
Italy are another entirely overhauled side. New manager Cesare Prandelli has embraced an attack-minded possession game which rather runs counter to half a century of defensive prowess and direct counter-attacking.
It's pretty to watch, but tough to pull off and while there is quality in midfield (Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio) and in goal (Gigi Buffon back to his best), the defenders are fairly pedestrian and the strikers, Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli, the epitome of inconsistency (and possibly madness too).
As for England, some say this is their worst side since the 1970s. If you take out the guys who are injured, unwanted or suspended (Wayne Rooney, Jack Wilshere, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Gareth Barry, Darren Bent, Rio Ferdinand), consider the lack of enthusiasm surrounding Roy Hodgson, and measure the vibes coming out of the camp, it's hard to argue.
The best you can hope for is it won't be too difficult to meet expectations since they're already very low.
If you're looking for a dark horse, you may want to consider Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo is due a sterling international tournament performance at some point and Nani is the perfect sidekick. Plus there's a mean defence in Pepe and Bruno Alves and the fact they're not getting much hype going into this tournament. Russia could also turn a few heads, just as they did in 2008 under Dick Advocaat. This could be Alan Dzagoev's breakthrough tournament and the supporting cast is deep and well-drilled.
Of the co-hosts, Poland are a better bet to make it through the group stage that Ukraine, thanks to the wonderful Borussia Dortmund trio of Lukasz Piszczek, Kuba Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski, but the rest of the squad aren't great, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny apart. Ukraine will have an uphill task, though the fact few foreign fans have travelled to the tournament means they'll enjoy huge home support.
Sweden's fate rests with how well Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Johan Elmander convert chances. Denmark will live or die with Christian Eriksen, a fabulous talent, but still just 20. Croatia have game changers in Luka Modric and Dario Srna but also have a squad riven by infighting.
The Czechs will need a bucketful of miracles from Petr Cech, while the Greeks, who promise a more progressive side than the ones fielded by Otto Rehhagel, simply look overmatched. A bit like the Republic of Ireland, where folk hero Giovanni Trapattoni, the man born on St. Patrick's Day, will likely send the cliché-o-meter into overdrive as he opts for his no-nonsense barricades.
When the dust settles, Spain may or may not have made history. What- ever happens, we ought to remember this La Roja generation as one of the greatest national sides ever.
ON again, off again, on again: it's Brendan Rodgers for Liverpool. At his inaugural press conference, the club went out of their way to stress they "won't appoint a director of football per se" (the words of chief executive Ian Ayre) but that there will be a "group of people" helping the manager. Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?
Semantics aside, it's pretty simple. We'll find out who's in charge of transfers soon enough. And maybe this idiocy can be put to rest once and for all.