Thiago Alcantara was delighted to secure Spain’s progress to the World Cup after missing out on the finals in Brazil three years ago due to injury.
The Bayern Munich midfielder suffered a serious knee problem which ruled him out of the 2014 tournament, where the defending champions were stunningly eliminated in the group stages.
La Roja sealed their spot as Group G winners with Friday’s 3-0 win over Albania, Thiago netting the third to cap a devastating opening 26 minutes in Alicante.
“I’m thrilled about the World Cup because I’d already missed out on one due to injury, but a lot of work still needs to be done,” Thiago said.
“It’s special because of the work carried out by this national team for the past year and a half, and through sacrifice and hard work, we’ve qualified earlier than planned.”
Spain conclude their qualifying campaign on Monday away to Israel, where Gerard Pique will be spared many of the boos from his own fans following his outspoken support of a referendum for Catalonia’s independence.
“It’s what Pique runs the risk of. We know that he’s very important for us on the pitch,” said Isco, scorer of Spain’s second against Albania.
“He’s been in the Spanish national team for 15 years and shown his commitment, but people are free to whistle and think whatever they want. He took it naturally.
“We’ve succeeded and now we have another objective. It’s difficult to mix politics with football and what Spain’s experiencing is a shame.”
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