Rakitić Returns to Maksimir: Dinamo and Sevilla to Meet in Europa League Knockout Round

By 14 December 2021
Rakitić Returns to Maksimir: Dinamo and Sevilla to Meet in Europa League Knockout Round
Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL

December 14, 2021 - Dinamo and Sevilla will meet in the Europa League knockout round playoffs in February after the draw was held in Nyon, France, on Monday. 

Dinamo Zagreb will play against Sevilla and Ivan Rakitić in the Europa League round of 16 playoffs. The draw was held at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Monday. 

Sevilla will host the first match on February 17, 2022,  and the return match will be played a week later in Zagreb.

After being relegated from the Champions League, Sevilla has hopes to win the Europa League as they will host the final and have been successful in this competition in recent years. Namely, Sevilla won the Europa League in 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2020.

"We have difficult matches ahead of us, but I hope we will learn something from playing in the Champions League," said former Croatia national team player Ivan Rakitić on Tuesday after being knocked out of the Champions League.

"We will play again in the Europa League, a competition that we are good at and will enjoy," added Rakitić, who is the captain of Sevilla until the injured Jesús Navas returns.

Sevilla is currently the second-placed team in La Liga and will be a tough rival for the Croatian champions, who were threatened by other greats in the draw, such as Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund.

"What to say about the draw? I am delighted and proud; it will be two big and difficult games. It is nice on the one hand to play against our club, against Dinamo, but also difficult because I have to fight against our club. I would like it better that we see each other in the quarterfinals or semifinals, not now. I am happy to come to Croatia for the first time in the club competition against our club, and it will be exciting in any case," said Rakitić after the draw. 

"We will have to play our best football, quite clearly, because Dinamo is a great European team that knows how to play such games. I know them very well; there will certainly be a lot of conversations with the coach and the club about the game; I am happy to come home and play at my Maksimir. It will be nice, but also strange, for the first time as a guest, but it will be a very nice and emotional experience for sure."

He was asked what kind of welcome he expects at Maksimir as a former national team player.

"Let it be however they want it to be. I hope for a very nice and good welcome; everyone knows how much Croatia, our football and our clubs mean to me. That is why I am very sorry that I have to fight against Dinamo. I can't wait to be home again, in Zagreb and Maksimir, and I believe that everything will be good and positive; I can't wait for the game."

The most exciting playoff pair is Barcelona and Napoli, and Dani Olmo and his RB Leipzig will play against Real Sociedad.

The Croatian champion is among 16 clubs in the second round of the Europa League. The winners of the groups Lyon, Monaco, Spartak, Eintracht, Galatasaray, Red Star, Bayer Leverkusen, and West Ham won a direct place in the round of 16. At the same time, eight second-placed teams (Dinamo, Rangers, Sociedad, Napoli, Olympiakos, Lazio, Braga, and Betis) play in the playoffs against third-placed teams from Champions League groups, namely Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Red Bull Leipzig, Porto, Atalanta, Sevilla, and Zenik St. Petersburg.









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