Reuters Soccer Blog
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Spain’s qualification for next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa has brought a welcome distraction to a nation suffering more than most of its European peers from the economic crisis.
Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Estonia put the European champions through as Group Five winners and Vicente del Bosque’s highly-fancied side will be competing in their ninth straight finals since 1978 and attempting to win the World Cup for the first time.
The Spanish FA (RFEF) opted to play the Estonia qualifier in the ancient Roman city of Merida, capital of the struggling Extremadura region, and the local fans gave star players like Fernando Torres, David Villa and Iker Casillas a hero’s welcome.
Hundreds turned out in the blazing sunshine to welcome the players at their hotel on Tuesday afternoon and the 15,000-seater Estadio Romano was packed with boisterous fans for both Tuesday’s evening’s training session and the match.