Euro 2012: Cesc Fabregas blames the state of the Gdansk pitch ahead of Irish clash
A WHINING Spain team blamed the state of the pitch at the Gdansk Arena – where they play Ireland on Thursday - for their failure to beat Italy in their opening group game.
The Spanish, who decided not to pick a specialist striker in their starting line-up, needed an equaliser from Cesc Fabregas to salvage a draw after Antonio Di Natale had given Italy a deserved lead.
Fernando Torres also missed several chances when he came on late but, rather than admit they had made a mistake with their team selection, the reigning World and European champions claimed long, dry grass had prevented them from playing their normal quick-passing game.
There was a lack of zip in some of Spain’s passing, which allowed a well-drilled side to get back into position whenever their opponents managed to stretch the game, but Italy had few problems and were a constant menace on the counter-attack.
“The pitch is a disaster,” said Fabregas. “It’s lamentable to play on a pitch like that. We deserved a lot more. It’s lamentable that we still have to play on pitches like that.”
The Spanish insisted they had been assured the surface would be watered for more than an hour before kick-off, but questioned whether this had happened.
Although Spain eventually created enough chances to win the match, they only found a cutting edge when Torres was belatedly introduced.
Worryingly for the tournament favourites, Italy found a way to cut them open when they broke with speed, often catching the Spanish with too few defenders to cope with their attackers.
However, both Spain’s playmakers, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, also rounded on groundstaff for failing to prepare a playing surface that suited their style of play.
“The fact they didn’t water the pitch compromised us and our dynamic and fluid passing game,” said Xavi, who could not get the better of opposite number, Andrea Pirlo, for long periods. Although it rained heavily in Gdansk on Saturday afternoon, Iniesta added: “To see the pitch in this condition was a disaster. It was super dry and that makes passing the ball difficult.”