One week to go! Can you feel it? Are you excited? Do you really want to know precisely which Manchester United players will be playing for which teams, and when, and where? Oh, good, that's handy.
Let's start with England, because that's where Manchester is, at least until the Northern Independence League gets its act together. United have contributed a mere three players to Roy Hodgson's squad, Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford, though as the tournament grows closer those players are together contributing far more than any of the useless wasters from those other, lesser teams.
3 - England's last three goals have been scored by three different Manchester United players (Rashford, Rooney, Smalling). Special.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 2, 2016
England — who qualified with a flawless record of 10 wins from 10 games — begin their campaign against Russia in Marseille on 11 June. Rooney will start because he has to, Smalling will probably start because there isn't anybody, and Rashford will be on the bench because Hodgson hates fun. From there they will play Wales on 16 June in Lens, then finish the group stage against Slovakia in Saint-Étienne on 20 June. The fact that four third-placed teams progress from the group stage make predicting knockout opponents exceptionally annoying, so let's not bother. Let's just see where the adventure takes us.
To the hosts next; it's just good manners. Official Silver Lining Partner Anthony Martial made the squad on his own merits, though he may not start; the French squad is kind of silly up front, and assuming Olivier Giroud starts in the middle, then he's competing with Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman and maybe even Dimitri Payet for one of the wide positions. In midfield, an injury to Lassana Diarra meant a late call up for Morgan Schneiderlin. Be nice to see how he goes in a non-Louis van Gaal side.
France open the tournament on 10 June in the Stade de France against Romania (and let's hope it's a better game than their hideous, life-shortening, brain-scraping 0-0 from 2008). They then travel to Marseille to face Albania on 15 June — your correspondent will be at this game and is unreasonably excited — before ending the group stage in Lille against Switzerland, on June 19. Potentially tricky, that one, though they should qualify without too much bother.
From the hosts to the favourites, though United are likely to have a peripheral presence in Germany's campaign. Bastian Schweinsteiger has made the squad, though given that he spent half the season injured and the other half palpably unfit, we're guessing that he's along as some kind of wise old mascot figure. Somebody for the kids to look up to.
Germany's attempt to double up their major trophies begins in Lille against Ukraine on June 12, then takes them to the Stade de France on 16 June. They conclude with a game against Northern Ireland on 21 June in Paris, and if he plays, then Schweinsteiger will be up against his teammate Paddy McNair. Which feels odd, though we're not entirely sure why.
Beyond the mighty McNair, there's quite a lot of ex-United interest in Northern Ireland's squad. Jonny Evans is the obvious former red, but Corry Evans, Craig Cathcart, Luke McCullough and Oliver Norwood all spent time with the club before making their way elsewhere. So too, of course, did Roy Carroll, who these days looks more like Mark E. Smith than Mark E. Smith does.
As noted above, Northern Ireland finish the group stage against Germany in Paris. Before that, they play Poland in Nice on June 12 and then Ukraine in Lyon on June 16.
The defending champions have Manchester United's best player in their squad, though it would be exceptionally funny if Vicente del Bosque decides to go full Del Bosque and decides not to pick David de Gea, instead opting for whatever's left of Iker Casillas. Assuming he doesn't, then United's goalkeeper's
audition for Real Madrid group stage will begin on June 13 against the Czech Republic in Toulouse — which he certainly won't want to! — continue on June 17 against Turkey in Nice, and then conclude on June 21 against Croatia in Bordeaux.
Spain should be an interesting team to follow: while they're not quite ... you're still upset about the Toulouse joke, aren't you?
You might suggest that Matteo Darmian is slightly fortunate to be at the tournament, given how effectively Louis van Gaal took him, broke him, and then stuck him on the bench. But Italy are in a strange place at the moment and are taking a vaguely peculiar squad, so there he is. Let's hope he has as nicer time against Belgium (June 13, Lyon), Sweden (June 17) and the Republic of Ireland (June 22). Not a Group of Death, no. Possibly a Group of Stubbing One's Toe Really Hard.
In that first game, Darmian might well be facing off against midfield oddity Marouane Fellaini, a Red Devil at every level of the game. To give him his due, Fellaini is normally pretty decent for his country, and since Belgium are only taking four central midfielders, he should see some play. After that opener against Italy, they head to Bordeaux to take on the Republic of Ireland (June 18) and then close the group against Sweden (June 22).