'Pique's behaviour exceptional' - Lopetegui defends under-fire Barca defender following Spain boos

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The Roja defender was praised for his behaviour by the national coach following boos and whistles from fans during an open training session

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui praised Gerard Pique for his "exceptional" behaviour with the national team.

The Barcelona defender was jeered by fans at training on Monday as he continues to come under fire for his support of the Catalan independence referendum.

Spain 7/1 to win World Cup

Pique tearfully offered his Spain resignation on Sunday night amid a day of violence in the Catalonia region, with Barcelona forced to play their win over Las Palmas behind closed doors.

But the 91-time Spain international has the support of his coach, who is delighted with the way the centre-back has conducted himself.

"I don't go in and out of ideas. Gerard's behaviour is exceptional," Lopetegui told COPE .

"I wanted to know how he was and I've seen him willing and motivated. He is well and motivated. If it were not so, he wouldn't be with me."

Pique Lopetegui

Spain are on the verge of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, sitting three points clear atop Group G with two matches remaining.

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But Lopetegui called for greater support of his team ahead of matches against Albania and Israel.

"I would encourage people to know that we need their support because we are not qualified for the World Cup," he said.

"It would have been a mistake to train behind closed doors."

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