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Spain look to ensure qualification as they face Albania and Israel

With La Liga taking a back seat this week due to the international break I take a look at the final two games of the qualifying campaign for a potentially divided Spanish side.

With events this week regarding the Catalonia independence referendum hitting the headlines around Spain and the rest of Europe, the country has been split for and against the region leaving the country, causing people to question whether the Catalan players in the squad are fully behind the national side.

Gerard Pique has been one player particularly targeted for speaking out in favour of Catalonia leaving Spain, training in Madrid on Monday lasting just 23 minutes with bottles and various other objects being launched at the defender.

However, the Barcelona defender has not been happy with suggestions he doesn’t care about Spain, saying “It hurts to have people doubt my commitment. I’m very proud of everything I’ve done here and of being here every time.”

As for the football, Spain will all but guarantee their entry in to next year’s World Cup with an expected three points against Albania on Friday night in Hercules’ Estadio José Rico Pérez.

They find themselves top of the group currently three points ahead of Italy with just two games to play and with a far superior goal difference meaning that one more win will all but guarantee their passage to the finals.

Spain won comfortably in Albania through goals by Diego Costa and Nolito and are expected to do so tomorrow against the third place side.

After that game, La Roja will travel to Jerusalem to face Israel in a game they hope will have no real meaning to it. A comfortable 4-1 win in Gijon for Spain was the outcome the last time the two sides met with another win predicted on Monday night which would mean Spain would go unbeaten through qualifying.

Julen Lopetegui will have to do without striker Alvaro Morata who withdrew from the squad after coming off injured in Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester City on Saturday. Andres Iniesta misses out with a hamstring injury and Dani Carvajal will also sit these ones out.

Fixtures:

Spain vs Albania, Fri 6th Oct 7:45pm, Estadio José Rico Pérez, Alicante

Israel vs Spain, Mon 9th Oct 7:45pm, Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem

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