Donbass Arena, Ukraine
After becoming Champions of Europe on the club stage, eight Chelsea players will be turning their attentions to becoming Champions of Europe on the international stage. Now the squad lists are finalized, we can confirm the Chelsea representatives as follows:
Let's have a quick run through our representatives, then.
Starting off our only man in Group A, Petr Cech, it means we will have the Czech Republic's first choice goalkeeper looking to help secure his side's qualification through the easiest group at the tournament. This thus involves facing up against ex-Chelsea teammate Yuri Zhirkov, as well as meeting his Arsenal counterpart Wojciech Szczesny against Poland - a match that will also see him face one of the world's top strikers (and rumoured Manchester United target) Robert Lewandowski.
For Raul Meireles, perhaps surprisingly for some, the Euros will represent quite possibly a bit of playing time, as our versatile Portugese midfielder is quite often selected as one of a midfield three for the national side, alongside potential Chelsea target Joao Moutinho. Meireles will also be playing with supposed Chelsea target Cristiano Ronaldo - as if Hulk and Hazard weren't enough - in the toughest group in the tournament. Portugal will play Germany, Holland and Denmark - three hugely challenging sides. If Portugal are to advance, Meireles will need to get the better of some of the Bayern players that Chelsea faced in the Champions League final, including one Bastian Schweinsteiger. Meireles will also be coming up against a plethora of Premier League talent, including Arsenal's new signing Lukas Podolski and their other star striker, Robin van Persie. Keep an eye on Denmark too, for nothing other than the fact that I love Christian Eriksen.
The Spainish duo of Fernando Torres and Juan Mata will be looking to defend their side's trophy, but it's not really clear how much of a role either will play in that defence. That's because Spain's squad is ridiculous. Indeed, Mata, who is much better than the current version of Torres, will most likely play less minutes due to the intense competition in his position. On the other hand, Torres will most likely be given the benefit of having played a key role in Spain's 2008 victory by being handed the starting berth in the central forward role. In this group the two will come up against various Chelsea-related players, including Luka Modric and Darijo Srma from Croatia and Fabio Borini for Italy (although the youngster's appearances may be fairly limited).
There are four Chelsea players in the English contingent, and it's quite possible all of them will start under Roy Hodgson's first crack at a major tournament. Terry and Cahill are firming as the central defensive partnership, while Ashley Cole was never really in danger of losing his spot. Frank Lampard is the most likely to be dropped, but that would be surprising when comparing his excellence in a deep-lying central midfiield role to Gerrard's general crazed headless chicken style running and ball distribution. You should be fairly familiar with who to keep an eye on in the England squad, while as for their opponents it's worth taking a look at the matches involving Ukraine for a bit of nostalgia, as Andriy Shevchenko looks to [still] be their first choice striker.
And finally, Florent Malouda. Why on earth is Florent even near Poland and Ukraine? It's because France are a bunch of young 'uns, and supposed Chelsea managerial target Laurent Blanc likes what he offers in terms of experience (surely he's not in the squad for his dribbling ability), which could feasibly also explain why Chelsea are keen to offer him a contract extension. France will face the same sides as England, because funnily enough, that's what happens when you're in the same group. Don't expect Malouda to feature too much though - unless of course Blanc suddenly likes players with Maori tattoos shaved into their hair.