The 10 Best Moments from Day Eleven of Euro 2012


1. Tipster of the day

Our Spanish expert Paul Wilkes successfully predicted that Spain would go on to beat Croatia after a first-half deadlock. Well played, amigo!

2. Pass of the day

Cesc Fabregas' delicate chip in the lead-up to Spain's goal against Croatia was as precise as it was visionary. Seeing Andres Iniesta making a darting run, Fabregas lofted an inch-perfect sand wedge of a pass into the space behind a tired Vedran Corluka, giving his Barcelona team-mate the relatively simple task of squaring to Jesus Navas. That's two goals and one assist for Fabregas in this tournament so far: not bad for a man whose starting place for his country has never been guaranteed.

3. Wardrobe malfunction of the day

Dealing with the nippy Antonio de Natale is difficult at the best of times, so Richard Dunne's decision to play in just socks was fairly inexplicable.

4. Safe hands of the day

A spectator during Spain's defeat of Ireland last time out, Iker Casillas had more to do against Croatia. With the aerial threat of Mario Mandzukic and substitute Nikica Jelavic always likely to pose questions of the Roja defence, 'Saint Iker' was called upon to take command, particularly at set pieces. He performed with typical aplomb, producing smart reaction saves to deny Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic. One senses that the experienced goalkeeper will be crucial in the knockout stages.

5. Tactical reshuffle of the day

Cesare Prandelli abandoned the 3-5-2 he employed during Italy's opening two Euro 2012 matches in favour of a more traditional Italian 4-3-1-2 formation. The decision certainly gave Italy more impetus in attack; left-back Federico Balzaretti offered a threat on his flank, Thiago Motta and Claudio Marchisio took it in turns to join the front men, and Daniele De Rossi readapted well to his role in midfield. Defensively, though, the Azzuri looked less sound, allowing the Republic of Ireland to break menacingly on a number of occasions. Prandelli will have to decide whether to prioritise defensive solidity or attacking verve in the quarter-final.

6. Consipiracy theory of the day

Much talk was wasted this week on the possibility of Spain and Croatia playing out a 2-2 draw in Gdansk. That result would have taken both teams through at the expense of Italy, but the scaremongers needn't have bothered: Spain and Croatia barely managed one goal between them, let alone four.

7. Repetitive commentary of the day

Wait, so the three teams level on points would be put into a mini-league to decide upon the final group rankings? I would never have known that, had you not explained it at length at least... oh... forty times in the last hour. MUTE.

8. Goal of the day

Overhead kick directly from a corner? All in a day's work for Super Mario.

9. Strange celebration of the day

Leonardo Bonucci showed great determination to censor Mario Balotelli last night (see above). We'd love to hear what the Manchester City star was muttering from behind his team-mate's hand.

10. Meme of the day