Spain are the reigning European and World Champions. REUTERS

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen has tipped Spain to lift the European Championship trophy in the Olympic Stadium on 1st July but cautioned that Germany and the Netherlands could provide stiff opposition to the reigning World and Euro champions.

Vicente del Bosque's side are vying to become the first team to win three successive major international titles when the tournament kicks off in Poland and Ukraine on Friday.

Spain open their Group C account against Italy on Sunday and, with the backbone of their successful World Cup 2010 squad still in place, are widely predicted to top a group which also includes Croatia and Ireland.

"It is the usual suspects in the final for me," Hansen told the BBC. "Spain won it last time and they won the World Cup in 2010. They have got the best players so they are the favourites and rightly so, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will win it, and it will be close."

Hansen believes Germany and the Netherlands will also fancy their chances of lifting the trophy and warned it would be foolish to right-off Portugal's chances of victory, despite their recent 3-1 defeat to Turkey in a warm-up game.

"As well as the Germans and the Dutch, I think Portugal are in the mix too," said Hansen. "Cristiano Ronaldo has been unfortunate before now to play in Portuguese sides at major finals that have been really negative, so he has not shown in tournaments how good he is."

Despite rising to sixth in the latest Fifa World Rankings, Hansen believes England are unlikely to progress beyond the quarter-finals at Euro 2012.

England have failed to reach the semi-finals of a major tournament since Euro 1996 and Hansen insists the so-called 'golden generation' will struggle against the top European sides.

"The golden age for this generation of England players was from 2006 to 2010 and they probably aren't as good now as they were, which is why people don't expect them to do well," added Hansen.

"Before then, when you looked at English teams on paper it was frightening how many great players they had, but they under-achieved.

"This time they are not sub-standard but they do not have so many great players. They could still do well but I think they will do well to reach the quarter-finals."

But England captain Steven Gerrard has refuted Hansen's prediction and believes the lower expectation levels around the side can work in their favour.

England begin their Group D campaign against France on 11 June before matches against Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.

"The team and squad were built up as the golden generation and the expectation and pressure grew over the years," said Gerrard. "We were expected to deliver in a major tournament and, by deliver, that means, going to a final or winning a trophy.

"We were put down as favourites in previous tournaments and maybe, because we haven't done that [been successful], the expectations this time will be less.

"But that could suit us and turn into a positive. By the same token there will be a certain amount of pressure and expectation because we are England."