Group C brings together four nations with wildly differing aspirations going into Euro 2016.
World champions Germany will be keen to follow the likes of France and Spain in recent times by adding European Championship glory to previous world domination.
Poland and Ukraine, co-hosts four years ago, will simply set out to make amends for what was an inept showing in their homelands as they won just one of six games between them.
Northern Ireland make up the quartet. A first major tournament in 30 years and a debut at the Euros, Michael O’Neill’s squad have already achieved something tangible in getting this far and will look to learn from whatever experience awaits them in France.
Germany, despite their triumph in Brazil, come into this tournament with some questions hanging over them.
Joachim Low’s men endured a run of four defeats in six games from late 2015 right through until their final pre-tournament friendlies and that must be of some concern to their manager.
Is there a sense of fallibility to this team or will Germany simply refocus when the serious stuff begins?
The manner of their success in Brazil suggests the latter. Few teams are better equipped for tournament football and with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Julian Draxler and Thomas Muller in fine fettle, it will take stern opposition to halt their progress in France.
Poland too can boast their own attacking prowess. No team scored more goals in qualifying and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski led the way with 13.
Ably supporting Lewandowski is Ajax trickster Arkadiusz Milik and this team looks well set-up to make up for what was a bitterly disappointing tournament four years ago.
The same sentiment is only partially true for Ukraine.
They managed only one point from 12 on offer against Spain and Slovakia – the teams that finished above them – in qualifying. That left them facing a playoff against a limited Slovenia side, which they safely navigated.
Whereas Poland are geared to attack, containment is more than likely going to be the order of the day for Mykhaylo Fomenko and his team.
How far that will take them remains to be seen, especially considering they must face Germany and Poland before they cross swords with Northern Ireland.
Similarly, the Irish will have been planning for how they can stop the opposition in France – that is no secret.
The group stage draw was not kind but, in manager O’Neill, Northern Ireland possess a clever young student of the game and they will be hard opposition to break down.
The togetherness and spirit of their squad should not be underestimated and if key forward Kyle Lafferty can hit form, Northern Ireland could be a menace for one or two of their Group C opponents.
It is extremely likely that Germany will find their feet and win this group. Only Poland look equipped to challenge them for that honour but their ability to contain the many attacking options Low has at his disposal, should their meeting develop into a shootout, is questionable.
Poland though should be good enough to secure second spot and atone for their failings last time out. Industrious and hard-working as they are, Ukraine and Northern Ireland look hard pressed to split the pair.
Group C Fixtures:
Sunday, June 12 – Poland v Northern Ireland (17:00) Stade de Nice, Nice
Sunday, June 12 – Germany v Ukraine (20:00) Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Thursday, June 16 – Ukraine v Northern Ireland (17:00) Stade de lyon, Lyon
Thursday, June 16 – Germany v Poland (20:00) Stade de France, Paris
Tuesday, June 21 – Northern Ireland v Germany (17:00) Parc des Princes, Paris
Tuesday, June 21 – Ukraine v Poland (17:00) Stade Velodrome, Marseille