Fabregas: I didn't expect to play against Italy

The former Arsenal playmaker has revealed his surprise at being in the starting XI for Spain's match with the Azzurri on Sunday, and praised his team's tactical improvisation

Cesc Fabregas has told of his surprise at starting up front for Spain against Italy on Sunday in their opening Euro 2012 encounter.

The Barcelona midfielder scored a second-half equaliser to savage a 1-1 draw for Vicente del Bosque's side in the Group C opener, but the 25-year-old admitted he was as shocked as anyone to start the game and lead the attack.

1.80 Spain are 1.80 with bet365 to win Group C

“I didn't expect it either,” he told Telecino. “I was as surprised as anyone.

“I hadn't played for a month and a half, and with the goal, it was special. So I am happy. It [playing as a false nine] was something we hadn't planned as the Barcelona players only joined the squad later on, but we have shown we have a lot of [tactical] variety.”

Spain are looking to become the first side to win three consecutive international tournaments, having won Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland and the World Cup in 2010.