Catalonia cloud lingers as Spain shine on road to Russian Federation


Spain was in control from the start in Alicante, with Rodrigo opening the scoring in the 16th minute with a left-footed shot from inside the area after a well-placed pass by Isco.

Armando Sadiku headed against the left-hand post, but moments of danger were fleeting for Spain and, with its qualification confirmed, it can reflect on an extremely impressive campaign and look ahead to Russian Federation 2018 with questions about Pique's global future put to one side after the early whistles were drowned out.

Spain secured its place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup after easing to a 3-0 Group G win over Albania as Gerard Pique received a mixed reception.

Pique has since found support from within the national team, but has also been the subject of boos from irate Spain fans throughout the week. Italy will have to try and make it into the World Cup via the playoffs.

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The other six teams to ensure they'll be in the World Cup are Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea from Asia, Mexico from the North American qualifiers and Brazil from the South American group. Brilliant performances of the Spanish team brought them an easy 3 points for the victory with a score of 3: 0, as well as the opportunity to grab a single line.

The pace dropped in the final 10 minutes, with the players on Spain's bench paying more attention to the match in Italy, where Macedonia equalised after 77 minutes. The brilliant 19-year-old scored one and made another to cap a sensational 19-minute burst.

Croatia dented their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup by conceding a 90th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 home draw with Finland in Group I on Friday, which knocked their fate out of their hands.

Spain's disappointing showings at Brazil 2014 and UEFA EURO 2016, combined with the departure of Del Bosque after seven years in charge, gave rise to a debate: should they try to play with a different style? A cornerstone of the midfield, the Canary Islander orchestrates the play, can beat his marker and has contributed five goals in Russian Federation 2018 qualifying.