Spain v Italy, 10 June 2012

Score1-1
RefereeViktor Kassai
CompetitionUEFA European Championship Finals Group C
VenuePGE Arena, Gdansk
Attendance38,869
Kick-off: 6.00pm local Assistant referees: Gábor Erős (Hungary) György Ring (Hungary) Fourth official: William Collum (Scotland) Additional assistant referees: István Vad (Hungary) Tamás Bognár (Hungary) Man of the Match: Andrés Iniesta (Spain) Spain and Italy shared the spoils after an enthralling opening Group C encounter at the Arena Gdansk produced a 1-1 draw. This was one of the most anticipated games of the UEFA EURO 2012 group stage and it did not disappoint with substitute Antonio Di Natale giving Cesare Prandelli's side a 61st-minute lead before Cesc Fàbregas levelled proceedings shortly afterwards. Fàbregas struck the winning penalty in Spain's shoot-out success against Italy at the quarter-final stage of UEFA EURO 2008 and the FC Barcelona midfielder was once again at the centre of attention beforehand when it was announced he would be offered a forward role that many had expected Álvaro Negredo or Fernando Torres to fill. Showing no signs of the thigh injury that hampered his tournament preparations, Fàbregas combined well with Andrés Iniesta and David Silva in the early stages when the Manchester City FC player failed to find the target twice with efforts from distance. Despite overseeing three friendly defeats in the build-up to this tournament, Prandelli had exuded calm at his pre-match press conference and his team personified serenity as they sought to break through a Spain side unbeaten in their previous 14 competitive encounters. Featuring in his 84th game for the Azzurri, Andrea Pirlo almost opened the scoring with a free-kick that flew low past the Spanish wall and onto the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Iker Casillas. It would develop into a busy opening half for Spain's captain who was then called on to deal with Antonio Cassano's low drive from the left. Although Iniesta offered some respite with a shot over the bar at the other end, Casillas was soon in action again, this time producing a one-handed save to stop a header from the unmarked Thiago Motta. Prior to the 30th meeting between these teams, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque warned his players of the dangers inherent in losing their opening game in Poland and the world champions responded to that threat by increasing the pace after the restart and testing Buffon through efforts from Fàbregas and then Iniesta. Mario Balotelli failed to take advantage of Sergio Ramos's slip as the half progressed and was soon substituted by Di Natale who immediately repaid his coach's faith by opening his body before expertly finishing past Casillas after Pirlo had played him through. The 2006 world champions were not celebrating long, however, as Fàbregas applied a first-time finish to what appeared a training-ground move involving lightning-quick passes from Iniesta and then Silva. With the game now being played at an electric pace, Silva's replacement Torres looked to edge his side in front after racing clear but he was met by an upstanding Buffon who ushered the danger away from the feet of the recent UEFA Champions League winner. A one-two with Xavi Hernández then led to Torres finding more space but the striker's lob landed on the roof of the net. It was not to be for Torres but neither side will be unduly unhappy with an opening point.

1  Spain

Manager: Vicente del Bosque

1  Italy

Manager: Cesare Prandelli

Goals:

Cesc Fàbregas 64 G

Goals:

Antonio Di Natale 61 G

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas (captain)
Defender Álvaro Arbeloa
Defender Gerard Piqué
Defender Sergio Ramos
Defender/Midfielder Jordi Alba
Midfielder Sergio Busquets
Midfielder David Silva
Midfielder Cesc Fàbregas
Midfielder Andres Iniesta
Midfielder Xabi Alonso
Midfielder Xavi

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (captain)
Defender Leonardo Bonucci
Defender Christian Maggio
Midfielder Daniele De Rossi
Midfielder Claudio Marchisio
Midfielder Thiago Motta
Forward Mario Balotelli
Forward Antonio Cassano
Forward Andrea Pirlo

Substitutions:

Jesús Navas for David Silva 64
Fernando Torres for Cesc Fàbregas 74

Substitutions:

Antonio Di Natale for Mario Balotelli 56
Sebastian Giovinco for Antonio Cassano 65
Antonio Nocerino for Thiago Motta 90

Cards:

Jordi Alba 66 Y
Álvaro Arbeloa 84 Y
Fernando Torres 84 Y

Cards:

Mario Balotelli 37 Y
Leonardo Bonucci 66 Y
Giorgio Chiellini 79 Y
Christian Maggio 89 Y

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina
Goalkeeper Victor Valdés
Midfielder Javi Martinez
Midfielder Jesús Navas
Midfielder Juan Mata
Midfielder Juanfran
Midfielder Pedro
Midfielder Raúl Albiol
Midfielder Santi Cazorla
Forward Álvaro Negredo
Forward Fernando Torres

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis
Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu
Defender Ignazio Abate
Defender Andrea Barzagli
Defender Angelo Ogbonna
Midfielder Alessandro Diamanti
Midfielder Riccardo Montolivo
Midfielder Antonio Nocerino
Forward Fabio Borini

11v11 match preview

Spain, tournament favorites, suffer from a number of problems. The main one is that they have an umbalanced set of players to choose from, with too many fantastic.play-making midfielders in the squad. It is going to be difficult for Del Bosque to choose a balanced side. The loss of David Villa is major and Spain lack an obvious first choice striker, given Torres' lack of form.

Italy are expected to play with a diamond formation in midfield and Cassano and Balotelli up front. With a more attacking set up and weaker than usual defence, Italy's Balotelli may prosper in this tournament.