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Euro 2016: 5 things to know about the soccer tournament

A picture shows the Henri Delaunay cup, the trophy of the UEFA European Football Championship. FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

What is it?

Officially, the tournament is the UEFA European Championship, the most prestigious soccer competition held for senior men’s national teams within the UEFA, a 55-country collection of European nations. Unofficially, the tournament is simply called The Euros, a month-long battle for European soccer supremacy. Held every four years since 1960, the competition is the second most watched football tournament in the world after the World Cup.

This year the tournament has a slightly different look, with the number of qualifying teams being expanded from 16 to 24. The countries are split up into six groups each consisting of four teams. The top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place teams, advance to the final 16. From that point on it’s a straight up win or go home affair.

The hosts

This year the 2016 Euros will be held across France: in Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nice, Lens, Toulouse, St. Etienne, Lille and Lyon.

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Still in a state of emergency since last November’s terrorist attacks that killed 130 people, there are many concerns with such a large-scale event taking place within the country. The possibility of an attack at the tournament is considered high enough for the U.S. State Department to issue a warning to American tourists travelling to the event, and for British Prime Minister David Cameron to describe the threat as “severe”.

Because of this, France has gone to unprecedented levels of security at stadiums and in fan zones. The country has even banned bars and restaurants from setting up TV screens outside their businesses during matches to spur fewer people from gathering in one location.

WATCH: Euro 2016 kicks off in Paris, France under intense security
Click to play video: 'Euro 2016 kicks off in Paris, France under intense security'
Euro 2016 kicks off in Paris, France under intense security

The favourites

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The betting site Ladbrooks has the home country with the greatest odds for winning this year at 16/5 with Germany a close second at 9/2. The defending champs Spain sit at 5/1 with England at 8/1, Belgium 10/1 and Portugal and Italy both at 16/1.

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For some real bang for your buck, at the lower end of the spectrum, Hungary and Northern Ireland both sit at 300/1.

If you want to go with a big time tip for a first-round matchup, Nelly the psychic elephant says to go with Germany over Ukraine on Saturday. Nelly made her pick at a zoo in northern Germany by kicking a ball and scoring into a net designated for Ukraine, indicating that team will concede more goals.

WATCH: Nelly the elephant predicts German win over Ukraine in Euro 2016
Click to play video: 'Nelly the elephant predicts German win over Ukraine in Euro 2016'
Nelly the elephant predicts German win over Ukraine in Euro 2016

What’s on the line?

Although the winning team will get to hoist the Henri Delaunay Trophy, pride is truly what’s at stake at the tournament. Just like the World Cup, the Euros bring out nationalistic tendencies that only an international tournament for the world’s most popular sport can do.

Although mostly all in fun, the event can also bring out the worst in people, with racism and historic grudges unfortunately taking up some of the spotlight.

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This year the matches will be scrutinized for racist incidents in stadiums in the most rigorous system seen at a major soccer tournament: All of the matches will be attended to by officials taking note of any discriminatory actions with disciplinary proceedings held for any of the witnessed bad behaviour.

WATCH: Tight security in Paris as Euro 2016 kicks off
Click to play video: 'Tight security in Paris as Euro 2016 kicks off'
Tight security in Paris as Euro 2016 kicks off

Where to watch

Group round matches officially kicked off Friday with France beating Romania 2 – 1. Two to four matches will be played each day on various TV networks and streaming services up until the elimination games start on June 25.

The 2016 UEFA European Football Championship game will be played in the State de France in Paris on July 10.

Bringing together diehard fans and the casual observer rooting for their homeland, chances are your local watering hole may be screening the matches and seeing an uptick of business in the process.

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Also, unlike in France, patios across Canada will be screening the games outdoors, a great place to grab a cold one and cheer on your team.

WATCH: Torontonians cheer on Euro Cup kick off
Click to play video: 'Torontonians cheer on Euro Cup kick off'
Torontonians cheer on Euro Cup kick off

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