Spain 1 – 1 Italy

Man of the Match: Andrea Pirlo. One of the veterans of the 2006 World Cup triumph, Pirlo was at his instrumental best against Spain, passing impeccably and laying on Antonio Di Natale’s goal for the Azzurri. Still a class act, he continued where he left off after a fine campaign with Juventus and always seems to have plenty of time on the ball to dictate play.

Spain verdict: Began nervously and appeared frustrated at times in the first half when possession wasn’t dominated in the way they have become accustomed too. Improved significantly after the break though and showed great focus to respond immediately after going behind. Will feel aggrieved at the draw when looking back at late chances for Fernando Torres but should still be confident of progress from the group.

Italy verdict: Showed no fear against the reigning world and European champions and demonstrated excellent positional discipline operating a new three-man defensive system that required Daniele De Rossi to play deeper than usual. Created plenty of chances of their own, with Claudio Marchisio going close to grabbing the winner near the end, and Cesare Prandelli must now decide whether to stick with the same formation for the next two games or to throw caution to the wind with a more attacking line-up.

Could do better: Mario Balotelli. Talked up by those from the Italy and Spain camps ahead of the game, Manchester City’s unpredictable striker failed to assert himself and was substituted after 55 minutes. Generally wasteful in possession, Balotelli also showed his temperamental streak when he was booked for a late tackle on Jordi Alba and his night was exemplified by the moment he dwelled on the ball too long when bearing down on Casiilas’ goal.

Stat attack: In 28 European Championship games, Italy have only lost one game from a winning position – the final aginst France in 2000.

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