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Thiago: Pique fully committed to Spain

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Andres Iniesta Albania Spain 09102016

"I would say this is my most hard spell in the national team due to everything that is happening, and I think it will be hard to sort out the Pique situation", Busquets told Cadena Ser.

Pique also reiterated that he has never spoken out in favour of Catalan independence, and simply supports the right of his home region to decide on its own future. "Alicante loves the national team a lot and I'm sure we will feel their affection", he said. "I think that trying to turn this around is a challenge for me and I will try to do this".

"Pique's already played at the Santiago Bernabeu many times".

"What I'd like to do is take all of the people who whistle me at the stadium and bring them out to dinner". I don't see what you have to lose by talking. Because there is no Catalan team and the person who believes in independence does not have anything against Spain. "Why can't a pro-independent play for Spain, although this is not my case".

"I have been here since I was 15", he said.

Pique has played for Spain's youth teams and scored five goals in 91 appearances for the senior side since making his debut in February 2009.

The Barcelona defender has received plenty of flak after threatening to quit La Furia Roja if his backing of Catalonia's independence referendum was a problem for anyone in the Spanish Football Federation. "I consider this my family". I'm hurt that people judge my commitment. "I have every confidence that there are many people, including in this group, who want me to stay and help the team win matches".

Thiago backed Pique to overcome any abuse from Spain supporters during the game.

Spain, who now lead Group G by three points, host Albania in Alicante on Friday before closing out their Group G campaign in Jerusalem against Israel on Monday. "I feel uncomfortable for my teammates not so much for me but for them, because the fans should be supporting them".

Spain are three points clear of Italy at the top of Group G with two qualifying games remaining.

A win over Albania on Friday night will seal Spain's spot at an eleventh straight World Cup but the constitutional crisis enveloping the country has overshadowed the build up to the match.

The Sport front page leads with the headline "Pacto" - meaning pact - with a subheading translating as 'Gerard Pique and (Spain manager) Julen Lupetegui agree on preserving coexistence to save crisis and to reach World Cup in Russian Federation'.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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