Spain look to cement berth for Euro 2016

Logrono (Spain), Oct 8 (IANS) The Spanish football team will assure its place in next summer’s European Championship in France if it is able to defeat Luxembourg on Friday.

The reigning European champions should have few problems in beating a side which is much lower ranked and Friday night’s game in Logrono should end with celebrations, reports Xinhua.

However, the run up to the game is being held in an uncomfortable atmosphere as the Spanish Football Federation is keen to avoid a repeat of the boos and whistles which were directed at FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique in a recent game the national side played in Oviedo.

Pique, who is a footballer who says what he thinks, said he was in favour of a referendum on Catalan independence, and although he did not say how he would vote in such an election, that has been enough (although with some provocative headlines in the Madrid press) to earn him the censure of some fans.

Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque criticised the boos, while on Wednesday, his teammates Nolito and Xabi Etxeita, highlighted that Pique has always given everything for the Spain team and was vital in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2012 European Championship successes.

Pique will almost certainly start in Logrono, with Etxeita a possible debutant as a result of Sergio Ramos’ shoulder injury.

Although Luxembourg should not offer too much resistance, Del Bosque is anxious to avoid leaving qualification until Tuesday’s tougher match against Ukraine and Alvaro Morata and Paco Alcacer could start in attack, with Santi Cazorla in central midfield.

There will be a full house, but whether the party starts early or at the final whistle is down to the attitude of the supporters towards a player who according to Etxeita “deserves applause in every ground he plays in”.

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