The bugle has blown! The 2016 UEFA European Championships has just kicked off in France. This time, there are 24 teams (instead of the usual 16) which means more competition, fierce battles and stars who have had great domestic seasons and are now itching to showcase their prowess in front of the world.
Here is a list of top 5 players to watch out for.
Arguably the best player to be a part of the Euro 2016, the Portuguese footballer had a sublime season with Real Madrid, scoring 50 plus goals for the sixth consecutive season and once again leading the team to Champions League glory. However, he has yet to leave a major mark in major international tournaments. He didn't have a great run at the 2014 World Cup, though he took Portugal to the semis in the 2012 Euro.
In terms of goals scored, he leads the list with a record 58 goals for Portugal including 23 goals in the European Championships. Coming for the Euro, he scored two goals for Portugal.
International success wit Portugal is the one thing missing from his glittering career. With a player of his calibre, anything short of a winner's medal just doesn't measure up. This time, perhaps, he will truly come through as a game-changer for Portugal.
They say age is just a number, but at 34, Sweden's Zlatan is like a fine wine that only gets better with the passage of time. He was the highest goal-scorer in the French League for the 2015-16 season, and is the ace up Sweden's sleeve. He is known for producing magical moments and can change the course of the game.
In the concluding season he scored a total of 53 goals for Paris Saint-Germain in all competitions, leading them to their fourth French League title in five years. He is the leading goal-scorer for the Swedish national football team as well. However, he has things to prove in the international sphere -- Sweden has never progressed beyond the quarterfinals in the World Cups or Euros, and Zlatan knows this could be the last chance for him.
Yes, he is the world's most expensive transfer. And he will now be carrying the Wales national football team, a European Championship debutant.
This season, the Welsh wizard scored 20 goals and made 13 assists for Real Madrid. Though his season was marred by injuries, Bale is back now and stronger as ever. He has scored 19 goals for the Wales national team. He was the top goal-scorer for his team in their successful qualifying campaign for Euro 2016, scoring seven goals.
For Real Madrid he might be running up on the flanks, but for Wales, Gareth Bale plays in the central position behind the striker. He can make incisive runs, create accurate balls, score direct free kicks, long-yard screamers and towering headers. His performances have of course been overshadowed by Ronaldo in Real Madrid, but we cannot underestimate this man, who can both create and score goals.
French footballer Martial defied all his critics in his first season with an impressive campaign for Manchester United after signing for the Red Devils for €36 million last summer, the highest fee paid for a teenager in football history.
In his debut season for United, Martial scored 17 goals and made 12 assists, primarily playing as a left winger. Showcasing his talent and skills in the first few months earned him titles such as Premier League Player of the Month.
Dubbed as the new Thierry Henry, Martial can play both as striker and on the left wing. He is a clever nimble-footed player who can beat the defenders and can make darting runs inside the opponent's penalty area and then score easy bents with deft touches.
Martial was one of the main successes of Manchester United's wayward campaign, both scoring and creating goals for the Red Devils; he earned his senior cap in August 2015. Though, he is yet to score for the French team, the 20-year-old means serious business and could demonstrate his mettle in the European Championships.
Paul Pogba is the only non-attacking player to get featured in the list. Once discarded by Sir Alex Ferguson, Pogba is the main architect of the Juventus football club and now the France national team.
At Manchester United, he built up a reputation as a powerful, skilful, and creative player who has an eye for the goal and a penchant for the spectacular. In the 2015-16 season, he scored nine goals and made 15 assists for Juventus
With skills that are similar to those of Pirlo and Zidane, is a complete mid-fielder with superb assists and powerful long range shots on the goal. You can look forward to watching this physically commanding footballer create all those moments for the strikers and dominate his central mid-field position as well.