Thiago 'thrilled' with World Cup qualification after 2014 heartache


Spain secured their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation when they host Albania on Friday.

"We have a great relationship, despite our different viewpoints and personalities".

Italy's 1-1 draw with Macedonia means Spain goes into the final round of fixtures on Tuesday (AEST) guaranteed a place in the tournament proper, holding a five-point lead at the top, while Albania's slim hopes of earning a play-off spot are over.

The midfielder backed Pique a day later, but said it was inevitable his team mate would face the wrath of some supporters against Albania.

Spain's Isco celebrates scoring his side's second goal with teammates on Friday. The upcoming match as such does not bring us intrigue, it is expected a very confident victory of Spain, which I think we will not have to wait long.

"The best thing about the match has been the commitment, the enthusiasm, the humility and the passion of the players".

However, Pique will be missing from that game as he's suspended after picking up a yellow card in the second half of the match against Albania when he pulled back Armand Sadiku.

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Albania boss Christian Panucci, who saw his side hit the post during a second-half purple patch, believes Spain have the capacity to go all the way in Russian Federation next year.

With the result, Macedonia, who are fifth in the six-team group, are now unbeaten in three World Cup qualifying games.

"You can see their quality".

Ahead of Friday's qualifier against Albania, the Real Madrid defender spoke about a hard week for his country following the violence at the Catalan independence referendum last Sunday.

But, given the disparity in quality between the two teams, Spain's vastly superior goal difference and head-to-head advantage over Italy, the spotlight was always likely to be on Barcelona defender Pique.

"We played a very good half hour, but then I was unhappy as we lost control", he told TVE.