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Attritional Arbeloa keeps Croatia at bay

A domineering defensive display from right-back Álvaro Arbeloa ensured he was the Castrol EDGE Index's top performer and helped Spain edge out Croatia to win Group C.

Spain's Álvaro Arbeloa shields the ball from Danijel Pranjić
Spain's Álvaro Arbeloa shields the ball from Danijel Pranjić ©Getty Images

Few would have predicted that Álvaro Arbeloa would be Spain's star man as they overcame Croatia 1-0 to top Group C, but the part the full-back played in an excellent defensive performance from La Roja meant he finished the match at the summit of the Castrol EDGE Index.

The Real Madrid CF man, awarded a rating of 9.25, was an integral figure as Spain quelled the attacking threat of their opponents. Arbeloa won possession back for the holders on 12 occasions during the match, including successfully executing two tackles.

The minimal impact made by Ivan Strinić is further testament to Arbeloa's solid display. The marauding left-back has impressed with his direct running and dangerous crossing – as Italy discovered last week, when Strinić laid on Croatia's equaliser – but Arbeloa restricted his influence.

Arbeloa was also one of his team's top passers, completing 84% of his 64 attempted, a figure just above the team average. His final mark is second only to Cristiano Ronaldo's 9.75 in the third set of group fixtures.

Andrés Iniesta was second on the Index thanks to his creativity, three shots on target and assist for the only goal. One of Arbeloa's defensive comrades, Gerard Piqué, completed the top three.

Castrol EDGE Index: Croatia v Spain
1. Álvaro Arbeloa (ESP) 9.25
2. Andrés Iniesta (ESP) 8.94
3. Gerard Piqué (ESP) 8.92
4. Stipe Pletikosa (CRO) 8.91
5. David Silva (ESP) 8.76

Key facts
– Croatia have scored four group stage goals in all four of their EURO appearances (1996, 2004, 2008, 2012).

6 – Only the Netherlands' Aron Winter (seven) has made more substitute appearances in UEFA European Championship history than Cesc Fàbregas.

13 – No team at UEFA EURO 2012 has a higher average of shots on target per match than Spain.

26 – Spain had 11 corners in this game, taking their tournament total to a finals high 26.

Player view
Andrés Iniesta: "It was a very difficult game, they had chances. It was a hard game to play because of the situation, for the fact that we were nearly qualified. We were there until the end, and then we got the goal that calmed everything down."