It was a rough night for Gerard Pique.
The Barcelona defender was helpless to prevent Croatia beating Spain 2-1 at the European Championship, surrendering top spot in Group D.
And Pique also had to deal with accusations that he swore as Spain’s national anthem rung around the Stade de Bordeaux.
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As the camera panned past him, Pique lifted the middle finger on his right hand. Scroll down to watch the footage.
Many immediately accused the 29-year-old of disrespecting his country.
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Pique has since hit back at those claims, calling them “stupid” after the game and providing a valid reason for the gesture.
He also wrote on Twitter: “I’m crossing my fingers during the anthem. Stop looking for controversy where there is none and let’s try and win the European Championships together.
The former Manchester United defender added to his thoughts in the mixed zone.
“I think it's a stupid controversy,” he said, per Sport. “If I’m here [with Spain] it’s because I feel proud of this team and this family.
“In no way did I disrespect the anthem, as I have never disrespected this country or this team.
“We all have to be together as one - these controversies don’t take us anywhere.”
Still, that didn’t prevent Twitter from launching to a conclusion.
Spain will face Italy in the last-16 after Vicente del Bosque’s side lost an incident-packed game.
Alvaro Morata gave La Roja an early lead and from there it seemed that Spain would cruise to victory.
But Croatia equalised when Nikola Kalinic smartly turned home Ivan Perisic’s cross.
Sergio Ramos had the chance to restore Spain’s lead when David Silva was brought down inside the penalty box but the Real Madrid man’s penalty was saved by Danijel Subasic, who was yards from his line when the ball was struck.
And Croatia capitalised on their good fortune (although whether or not Spain should have had a penalty is worth a discussion) when Perisic fired home past David de Gea in the 87th minute.
Italy will be confident
For Spain, it’s vitally important that the wheels don’t fall off in their bid to complete a hat-trick of European titles.
La Roja looked assured in their opening victories against Czech Republic and Turkey but their defence, De Gea in particular, was frail in Bordeaux.
And yesterday’s game will have given Antonio Conte confidence that his Italy side can beat Spain next Monday.
It's worth remembering that Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2016 final. The Azzurri have a score to settle.
Will Spain beat Italy? Let us know in the comments section below!
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