Saturday, 9 October 2021

Jadran Split Tops Barcelona, One Step Closer to Champions League Group Stage

October 9, 2021 - Jadran Split is one step closer to the LEN Champions League group stage! The Split water polo club defeated Barcelona at home in the 2nd qualification round for the competition. Jadran plays against Oradea on Sunday at noon in the 3rd round!

Jadran Split defeated Barcelona 8:4 in a world-class match and is one step closer to the Champions League group stage. With this victory, Jadran secured a place in the play-off round in which they will play at home and away. It will not be an easy task, but Jadran has the strength.

There were no goals until 33 seconds before the end of the first quarter when Antonio Dužević took advantage of the extra man play. Jadran goalkeeper Mate Anić had a particularly great quarter, saving five or six incredible shots from Barcelona.

The same pace continued in the second quarter, and in the second minute of the third quarter, captain Anđelo Šetka also scored. Luka Bukić scored for 4:1 before Barcelona found their way to the net and quickly took the ball in extra-man situations. Barcelona reduced the score to -1, then Jadran led by 5:3 and 5:4. 

In the last eight minutes, it was 7:4 for Jadran. Marin Delic confirmed the victory with a goal for the final 8:4.

"I am very pleased first that we won 8:4, that it is not 16:12, with a lot of goals conceded. We had problems in the attack, we missed goals, but when you play defense as we do now, you win games like this. Mate Anić defended excellently, but when the defense is engaged, when we know where the danger is coming from, it is easier for him to defend as well, and when threatened from all sides, it is not easy. He defended a great few shots, kept us level until the attack worked. As for the attack, this will happen once in 10-15 times. We will always score a couple of goals, but we are in trouble if we receive a lot of them. Now Oradea is waiting for us, I will use it to give a chance to young players, we will not be embarrassed, we are going to win, but young players will have more opportunities," said Jadran coach Mile Smodlaka.

"In Podgorica, we did not arrange properly in the defense. In this tournament, the emphasis was on defense; we justified the coach’s words to emphasize defense and goals will come. Good defenses were played on both sides; we missed in the beginning. When we stepped on the ball and improved our defense, the product was a victory," said Mate Anić.

Jadran will play its third game in the qualifications group against Oradea tomorrow, Sunday, at noon. 

In today's second match, Primorac Kotor beat Oradea 8:6.

Jadran: Podrug, Buric (1), Marinic-Kragic (1), Cagalj, Z. Butic, Pejkovic, Bukic (1), Kharkov (1), Delic (1), Dobud, Setka (1), Duzevic (2) , Anic.

Barcelona: Schneider, Duart, Van den Burg, Ferrer, Urzainqui, Duric (1), Baches (1), Goma Esforzado, Compte, Estrany Esforzado (1), Guell (1), Sesen, Vicente.

Source: Dalmatinski Portal

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Tuesday, 1 September 2020

It's Official: Ivan Rakitic Leaves Barcelona for Sevilla!

September 1, 2020 - Ivan Rakitic leaves Barcelona for Sevilla!

Barcelona has confirmed the transfer of Ivan Rakitic to Sevilla FC on its official website. The Andalusian club will pay 1.5 million euro to Barcelona for the Croatia national team player, with the possibility of paying an additional nine million euro through bonuses.

On Wednesday at 11 am, the club will say goodbye to Rakitic with a ceremony and a press conference. Barcelona thanked the Croat for six years of loyalty during which he became the fourth foreigner with the most appearances in the history of the club.

"FC Barcelona publicly expresses its gratitude to Rakitic for his commitment and dedication and wishes him good luck and success in the future.

This Wednesday, September 2, starting at 11.00am CEST, the farewell ceremony and subsequent telematic press conference of the player will take place."

Rakitic won 13 trophies with Barcelona, played 310 games and scored 36 goals with the same number of assists.

"The Swiss-born Croatian joined FC Barcelona from Sevilla in the summer of 2014, and wearing number 4 on his back, he quickly became a regular feature of the blaugrana midfield. In fact, he has gone on to become the foreigner with the fourth most appearances ever for Barça, only topped by Leo Messi, Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano, and has the most appearances of all for a European foreigner," Barcelona concluded.

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Saturday, 6 June 2020

Ivan Rakitic Opens Up About Future with Barcelona, Croatia National Team

June 6, 2020 - Ivan Rakitic opens up about how he feels at Barcelona and whether we will watch him in the Croatia jersey at the Euros next year.

On this day five years ago, Ivan Rakitic lived some of the most beautiful moments of his football career. Namely, in the Berlin final of the Champions League, he scored the first goal in the 3:1 victory against Juventus, which was the crown of an excellent first season with the Catalan giant. 

The 32-year-old Croatia national team member and assistant captain who has already collected 106 appearances and 15 goals, just like all football players in Spain, is counting down the days until the season continues. 

During intense training, Ivan Raktitic found the time to sit down with T.portal to talk about everything going on in the famous footballer's world today. 

First and foremost, football is back. How hard was it to keep fit in home isolation and then come to workouts, where there was to be no physical contact?

"It was hard; it was hard. At least, we all know we are in the same situation. It was especially difficult in the first 15, 20 days, because you had to find motivation, go to the gym, run, ride a bike. It was hard to motivate yourself when you were cut off, without a teammate. But I think I can say that I made great use of this time, I worked a lot, I feel fantastic and I feel it was maybe the best training in the past few years," he said at the beginning of the interview. 

Despite all the problems due to isolation, did you make good use of your time with your daughters and wife?

"Yes, of course, because otherwise we players travel a lot, so we made the most of this time to have some fun, to be together. Although there were difficult and unpleasant days. Because for more than two months, we were not allowed to leave the house at all. Still, we hung out even more with the kids, and to me, it’s always a pleasure."

We know you speak Spanish, but did you perhaps teach your wife and daughters Croatian?

"My wife even speaks Croatian quite well, and she more or less understands everything. Especially when our famous society is together, when she relaxes, then she speaks. And the kids a little less, because they go to a French school, where they learn both French and English and German. Of course, Spanish is their first language, but they also know a lot of Croatian words."

You took them to Croatia, but were your daughters in Möhlin, Switzerland, where you lived as a child?

"They have been to Croatia several times already; I wanted to show them all the beauties of Lijepa Naša. We haven't been to Switzerland in a while, but we talked about it recently and when the opportunity arises, we would like to go again, to show them a lot of things because Switzerland also has a lot of beautiful places, completely different from those in Spain."

On this day five years ago, you scored a goal in the Champions League final in Berlin, in a 3:1 victory against Juventus. It was a magical end to the first season at the big club. This is probably one of your favorite goals in your career.

"Both that year and the year before, when I reached the Europa League title with Sevilla, were special. With that game and that goal, I put an end to a really great period. That trophy was something amazing and of course, I am extremely proud of that goal. But God willing, more games in the Champions League will be played this season, so let's try to reach that title again."

Unfortunately, five years later, the situation around your status at the club is not clear. We know you would like to stay, but what does the club think?

"More or less, since I’ve been here, the same situation is always presented and my status is talked about. Now everything is clear to me, because ten, fifteen days ago we talked very specifically in the club and the agreement is that we have nothing to talk about - I have a contract (until the summer of 2022) with Barcelona, ​​and it is a club where I want to be and play. Also, I am in Barcelona with my wife and kids and it’s nice to live here, so I have no reason to think about other things. I’ve been training well these days, I feel good and I’m confident the Rakete will be in Barcelona for a while longer."

We know that no player is comfortable when he doesn't play as much as he thinks he deserves, and that happened to you during the first part of the season. Did any of your teammates call you and provide support?

"Of course. First of all, it’s not nice when you’re not playing. Especially when you don't understand why. And when they don't want to explain the reasons to you. Of course, I respect it if the coach decides on other players. That's why we are in a team sport, not an individual sport. The problem was that they didn't want to or didn't know how to explain the reasons to me. That was my fault. But that's why I had the support of my teammates, coach Dalic, which made it even easier for me to bear it all. And I am really grateful to them all. Because of all this, I feel overjoyed to have them with me."

At one point, you said that you don’t want the leaders of Barcelona to treat you like a sack of potatoes, that is, that you will find your own club if you need to leave.

"By that, I just meant that I could be talked to about everything. Because I never want anything by force. I want to deserve everything, let everything be as it should be. Because I always take the fair route, I don’t hide anything. I think I showed my character with that. I will never have a problem with that if we sit down, talk, find a common solution. I signed my contract with the desire to fulfill it to the end, but if for any reason it cannot be fulfilled or someone else has different thoughts, you just need to sit down and talk. And that was my only thought when I said that. But now it’s all settled, so I’m calm and happy. And I train more than ever."

Your position is clear - you want to stay in Barcelona.

"As you know, in football everything happens very fast, a lot of things change in a little time. So even now, this situation with the virus has changed a lot. I think the most important thing is to think about the present moment, and that means we are starting the championship next weekend. We must be ready for that too. With the years I have, I think I have proven that and that football is most important to me. I simply want to be happy and enjoy. And that means winning a lot more trophies with Barcelona."

Which is more important to you, Barcelona or Croatia?

"I have a lot of respect for my club, but the Croatia national team is more important to me. Of course, we all follow the rhythm of the clubs where we get paid. But of course, above all, Croatia is mine."

I ask that because if you stay in Barcelona, ​​maybe you would have a season like at the beginning of this one, so you would be without adequate minutes, which would be a problem for Croatia.

"It doesn't have to be that way, does it? But if that happens, then I will analyze the situation at the right time. I never wanted to be selfish and think only about myself or what I would have to or what would suit me, but I always think about what is best for the national team and Croatia, and that is best for me. So there is no doubt about it, I am very calm. And I can’t wait to get together, to fight for our colors, our jersey, our people. It’s always special, different."


At the beginning of April, you did not want to confirm that you were going to the Euros, although we know that you love Croatia very much, and then you said that you had to talk to coach Dalic.

"When I said I wanted to talk to the coach, I said it because I have a very good relationship with him, we know each other well, we understand each other well. And I think there must always be some kind of communication between us. So there are no doubts, it is an honor for me to play for the national team and every time it is my first."

Have you perhaps talked to him in the meantime?

"Yes, we talk every now and then, about the whole situation, about all that. But now all of us are thinking about club events. Because, unfortunately, because of the corona, the Euros were canceled, the national team matches were canceled. The most important thing is that we are in touch, that we are all healthy, that we can train normally, because there will certainly not be too much of a break this summer. From one season we will very soon go to a new one. It will be a meaningful football summer, which is new for all of us, but I repeat, the most important thing is that we all do great."

So you're going to the Euros next summer, unless there are some extraordinary circumstances?

"I hope nothing will attack me in the meantime, ha, ha. There is no doubt because all of us from this great generation has shown that we have excellent communication. I must also emphasize that I have a very good relationship with the coach, we are open to each other and there will be no problems."

In an interview for T.portal before the World Cup in Russia, you left the possibility open that this could be your last national team cycle. But as you have already extended your term in the national team, perhaps it would be best to conclude it with the next World Cup, in Qatar in 2022?

"Ha, ha… Who knows, maybe it won't be until 2024. You never know. But the most important thing to me is that I can talk to the coach at any time, as I did after the World Cup in Russia. I also talked to my family, to my wife and I came to the decision that I wanted to continue. There are a lot of games ahead of us, we just need to enjoy so we continue to be real."

You can read the full interview here.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow. TCN's dedicated page.


Friday, 1 May 2020

Ivan Rakitic Ready to Risk Catching Coronavirus to Play Football Again

May 1, 2020 - Ivan Rakitic smiles on the cover of Spain's most popular sports daily Marca. The Croatia representative and Barcelona champion was given the space he deserves for his status over the past years at Camp Nou, though he spoke about football the least. In Spain, the main topic today is the coronavirus pandemic.

Tl.portal reports that football players in Spain are preparing to return to training, but the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is still far from over - more than 212,000 people have been infected, with some 25,000 dead from the effects of this vicious infection.



So, what is Ivan Rakitic missing most during home isolation?

"Like everyone, I miss the little joys and rituals that make up life; driving my daughter to school, breakfast in the city, physical activity, peace. In this situation, I learned a lot, but the most important thing is that I now appreciate the seemingly small things far more and moments that we normally took for granted. And, of course, family and closest friends. In this regard, isolation was particularly difficult for me, because my family and close friends were scattered throughout Switzerland, Croatia, and Spain. I thank God everyone is fine," Rakitic said, admitting he could not imagine living in something like this:

"No one could have imagined something like this. I know that we at the club took the whole situation very seriously. We went to play the first game of the Champions League round of 16 with Napoli, already aware that anything could happen. We must now be positive and also aware that everything we do to prevent the spread of the infection is truly good for us. I learned that you have to appreciate those little details you go through every day. The simplest moments are also the most beautiful. With family, friends, people you love. This has taught us a lot."

The situation is not at all pleasant, and it has been scary for many.

"I would not say fear is the right word, I was more caught up in some uncertainty. I'm a person who lives organized, I don't like surprises of this type. I like to have things under control, and this has thrown my family, from Seville, Switzerland and Croatia, into uncertainty. It is good that there are modern technologies so that we could motivate each other a lot. I admit, there were moments of anxiety, but thank God my family is fine," admits Rakitic, who has a message of encouragement for all:

"Many around the world have suffered and they are all our heroes. I would like to express eternal gratitude to them. It is clear that humanity will never forget this, but we must not allow ourselves to be left with only ugly and negative memories. We should always be in solidarity with one another, as in the time of the corona. Let's get the power to move forward."

What is the future of football? In some countries, the season will not reconvene.

"Everyone has the right to make their own decision. We see that the French league, one of the most important in Europe, will not play and that must be respected. Each national federation will decide what is best for it and how to bridge this gap of non-playing. I also think that one cannot make the same decisions, that everything cannot continue at the same time," said Rakitic, who still thinks that football holds an essential place in everyday life: 

"Football is very important to many people, and the proof of that is the money that revolves around it. I have heard a lot lately about the problems that await football if it is not played. Of course, they are economical - money, European competitions, promotions and relegation, TV rights, calendars ... But, it's not about the fans, those who have their football taken away overnight and all those who live for football, "says Rakitic, and adds:

"I think it's time for all the football staff to stand up and unanimously say that they are not playing football for economic reasons. We need to get young people interested in doing what they love, regardless of the millions who invest in football. For starters, one should move away from thoughts of the virus and infection, have fun with friends, find a reason to be happy. Now is the time for all athletes to unite and support those who need the most support."

What is his attitude toward playing?

"It's football time. Now footballers have to give back to society what society has already given them through this fight against the coronavirus. I know I want to play. Now it's time to get back to football. It is obvious that we will have to return with the best sanitary conditions, but neither do they guarantee 100% certainty for all actors. Risks will be experienced by all workers and employees with the same problems, from supermarket workers onwards. They run the risk every day, I'm ready to do the same," said Rakitic, who openly admits that he wants to take the risk of contracting the coronavirus if it means playing football again:

"Without any doubt, yes. I say this, aware that the risk of infection is very low, but also in solidarity with those who have been 'playing from the first minute' for us since the corona began and have not stopped. Supermarket workers also change in the locker rooms and are at greater risk than us for becoming infected. I, too, want to take that risk. I'm sure all the fans would like football to come back. We need to let people enjoy football, and football itself should be the first way of thanking all the fighters of the coronavirus," claims Rakitic, noting that without the fans it won't be the same:

"It will be difficult and strange to play in empty stands, and rarely does this happen. But we will be equally motivated because we will know that we are being escorted from our homes by an entire army of fans. Every time I see a kid in my jersey I think about how much effort their parents made to buy that for them. We will not disappoint them. We will know how to feel their support. I hope we get another dose of humanity after all this and know how to appreciate what's important to us."

To conclude, perhaps the most difficult topic, at least when it comes to Ivan Rakitic - his status in Barcelona and his apparent departure from the club at the end of this season.

"My situation in Barcelona has not changed. I am at the peak of my career and in my best years (32), fully motivated and convinced that I can have and will have anything. The market situation has changed a lot, but I do not regret the decisions made so far because I have reached the level of maturity to anticipate various situations. If by the end of the season they would still take the championship and the Champions League, wish us luck... I will try to do my best, both for the team and for myself. I want to enjoy football and start playing as soon as possible. When the season is over, I will analyze what to do next," concluded Ivan Rakitic in an extensive interview with Marca.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Ivan Rakitic Opens Up about Status at Barcelona: "I Will Decide My Future"

April 14, 2020 - Croatia representative and Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has been training in the safety of his home because of the coronavirus pandemic. The famous footballer opened up to Spanish media about his uncertain future at the Catalan club. 

T.portal reports that, like many footballers around the world, Ivan Rakitic spends his days inside the four walls of his home until football returns to the currently-quarantined Spain. 

“I am spending this time as we all are, with family, my wife and children. Luckily we have some space in the garden so we can play. We’ve had a little luck and good weather, it's getting a little easier for us,” Rakitic revealed in an interview with RTL on Sunday.

“I have to train as much as I can to be ready because I don't know exactly when we'll be back. I also respect the decision of Bayern and a lot of German clubs who are back and if the situation can allow it, even better. It doesn't look like that for us yet. I think we will be stuck at home for a while, but for the benefit of all of us,” he added.

But in an extensive interview with Mundo Deportivo, in which he received the full cover, Ivan Rakitic spoke about his status at Barcelona, as there has been a lot of speculation about him moving to a new club, from Inter to PSG, Sevilla, and Atletico.

“For two years now, and especially during breaks between seasons and during this forced break because of the coronavirus, I have been writing and talking about my departure from Barcelona. I always responded to this as I will now; playing for Barcelona to me is perfection, the fulfillment of a dream. So I would like to play and enjoy it here until the end of  my contract and help win all the trophies. If that is not possible, we will sit down and arrange my departure. However, I want to work with Barcelona until the end.”

If Rakitic has to leave Barcelona, is Sevilla his priority?

“True, I have a special affection for Seville, but above all for the city, as I have my family there. I always said that it would be great to wear that shirt again, everyone knows that, but it is not only my decision that matters, whether I want it or not. There are many more things. Monchi (the sports director of Sevilla) and everyone in Seville has my phone number, they haven't called me yet, and I recently had a birthday, but even then they didn't remember me,” he said laughing.

Rakitic has always said that Barcelona is the best team in the world. 

“Everyone who knows me knows I always want to win. My goal is always to win and conquer everything. First, in training, then during the games and the trophies and that will never change. I see myself at my best, and I do my best. If I didn't have that desire, I would do things differently, but I feel better than ever and see that I will compete at the highest level for the next three or four years,”

Barcelona offered Rakitic the chance to leave last summer, but now, because of the coronavirus pandemic, such transfers may no longer be feasible. Does Rakitic see himself as a player in other leagues, such as Italy or England, or would he rather stay in Spain?

“I understand the situation, but I'm not a sack of potatoes that could be traded. You can always talk to me, but most importantly: I want to be where I will be loved, respected and needed and where both myself and my family feel good. If it’s going to be in Barcelona, I’ll be thrilled. If not, I'll go where I choose and not where others want. I do not allow this kind of behavior towards me and I have already told them that is the most important thing.” 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Luka Modric v. Ivan Rakitic: Croatian El Clasico Returns Tonight

March 1, 2020 - Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic will meet for the 18th time in El Classico tonight, to be played at 9 pm at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

It was March 2019, exactly a year ago. Barcelona won at the Bernabeu and Ivan Rakitic scored the only goal of the game, reports 24 Sata.

“Setien, don't forget about Raketa, he knows how to mess with Real,” read the headlines of Spanish media ahead of El Clasico on Sunday night.

And this is not by accident. Apart from the fact that Rakitic scored Barcelona's last goal against Madrid, and it has been exactly one year since then, but he has scored four goals in his career against Real Madrid. The only club he has scored more against is Real Betis, recording five goals total. Rakitic is gaining momentum once again, and has started for Barcelona in the last two games, against Eibar and Napoli. All signs lead to him starting again against Real Madrid tonight.

The 'Croatian El Clasico' returns for its 18th episode. 

The first collision of Rakitic and Modric was in September 2012. Then, Rakitic was a star in Seville, while Luka Modric was going through tough times at Real Madrid. In that match, Luka came off the bench for Mesut Özil. Sevilla won 1:0, and Rakitic and Modric exchanged jerseys. Since then, they have played against each other 17 times - Rakitic celebrated nine times, four games ended in a draw, and Modric won four times.

If we were to compare the two players in La Liga this year, then Luka is more successful. Modric started in 13 games this season, playing an average of 63 minutes per game and scoring three goals. Rakitic, on the other hand, has not scored a single goal this season, has started only in nine games, and is playing 46 minutes per game.

The match tonight is a massive step towards the La Liga title. If Barcelona wins, they will be five points ahead and push Real Madrid into even bigger problems, potentially resulting in a Zinedine Zidane sacking. 

Thus, the story of Ivan and Luka continues. The story of two friends, whose intertwined football journey began in September 2007, when Croatia beat Estonia 2:0.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Friday, 14 February 2020

Ivan Rakitic: "I Would Rather Win Euros with Croatia than Champions League"

February 14, 2020 - Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona midfielder and member of the Croatia national team, said during a Bleacher Report interview that he hopes he can become European champions with Croatia and that the team has a good future because of its young players.

When asked if he thought Croatia could continue to succeed when the golden generation (Rakitic, Modric, Perisic) step down, Rakitic replied:

“We hope so, there are a lot of young really good guys and hopefully the guys can do it better than the generation.”

When asked if he would prefer the Euros or the Champions League title this year, Rakitic didn’t hesitate.

“I prefer the Euros because I've already won the Champions League and would love to win the Euros with Croatia.”

Rakitic, who won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2015, received new coach Quique Setien last month, replacing Ernest Valverde, who has been coaching the Croatian midfielder since the summer of 2017.

"It is impossible to compare them," he said without explanation.

Rakitic still regrets that he lost the World Cup final 2:4 to France in 2018, saying that he would replace winning the Champions League with the World Cup title.

“In every station there are special people, I would change it for sure as there are plenty of opportunities to win a Champions League but it is difficult for a World Cup.”

He said that the World Cup in Russia changed him.

“It changed a lot, to have an experience where we were there until the last day, to lose it was really hard. To feel the love from the whole world was really special for us and I will never forget it for sure.”

Barcelona sports director Eric Abidal said this month in an interview with Catalan Sport that Rakitic had talked to Juventus but not Barcelona, and that the Catalan club had not received any offers from Turin. Juventus Sports Director told Sky Sports in November that "Rakitic is a great player" but that they do not intend to bring him in because they have a good and well-placed team. Asked if he would like to play with Cristiano Ronaldo, Rakitic replied:

“Of course I would like he is also one of the biggest players in history, you really enjoy watching him and you see now what he's doing at Juventus and for me is one of the best players in history.”

Rakitic will turn 32 in March and has a contract with Barcelona until the summer of 2021. Portuguese coach José Mourinho once said that Rakitic is the most underrated football player in the world. But who does Rakitic think is the most underrated in the world?

“There are a lot, Jose Mourinho told it was me haha and he was right (joking) there are a lot of players in this way and I think there are a lot. For me though [Miralem] Pjanic.”

He would like to play with Brazilian striker Neymar once again, a player he shared a dressing room with until the summer of 2017.

“First of all I would like to have Neymar in my team for sure, he needs to decide what's best for him as he's my big friend and I want to see him happy and for sure when he is happy he is one of the best players in the world.”

For him, however, the best player is Barcelona captain Lionel Messi - the GOAT.

“Yes just amazing to play with him and I think it's really special and if he is the GOAT, I think in every moment there were special players, for sure he was the best player in the last 15 year and in my opinion he is the best of all time and I think for me to play with him on the left side for the last six years was amazing.”

Rakitic went on to name Robert Prosinecki as his favorite player and Eminem as his favorite rapper. He loves the Barcelona kits this season "because they fit the kits of Croatia". 

His favorite goal is his first for Basel, Switzerland - a left volley. The most entertaining player he played with is Brazilian Dani Alves, and the best defender is current teammate Gerard Pique. His favorite stadium besides Camp Nou is his Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, the Sevilla stadium where he played from January 2011 to June 2014, and where he was the team captain. 

You can see the full interview on Bleacher Report.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Ivan Rakitic Opens Up About Tough Time at Barcelona

November 13, 2019 - Croatia national team player Ivan Rakitic opened up about the tough times at Barcelona and losing his place in the starting lineup after five years at the club.

“They took my ball. I am sad," he said in an interview that will be released Thursday on Spanish TV Movistar. 

Coach Ernesto Valverde has left Rakitic on the bench in his last two championship games against Levante and Celta Vigo. He has appeared in ten games this season, playing just 255 minutes, which is the least by minute among Barcelona's seven midfielders.

“I understand and respect the decisions of the coach, the club, or anyone. I have given a lot during these five years at Barcelona and I want to continue to enjoy it. I'm 31, not 38, so I feel I'm at my best,” said Rakitic.

He said he was hit emotionally by being losing his place in the squad because he had been a member of the starting line-up since joining the club.

“How does my younger daughter feel when you take away her toy? She's sad. I feel the same way. They took my ball away, so I'm sad,” said the Croatian midfielder.

Rakitic has been Barcelona's most used player since Ernesto Valverde took over the team in the summer of 2017, and has won the Spanish Championship twice during those two seasons. But since the start of this season, Rakitic has only been in the starting lineup once -  and Valverde didn’t even include him in the player list for one of the games. 

“I like to show my feelings. When you need to cry, that is okay. When I need to celebrate, I celebrate, like winning the silver medal with Croatia at the 2018 World Cup,” he noted.

Valverde said last month that he had more midfielders this season than in previous seasons, and the Barcelona administration has not yet revealed anything about the situation with Rakitic, who has a contract until the summer of 2021.

Last summer, Barcelona brought in 22-year-old midfielder Frankie de Jong from Ajax for €75 million, who has played the most minutes among the midfielders in 16 games so far.

Rakitic returned to Barcelona from Zagreb on Monday after attending the national team reunion. Doctors of the Croatia national team examined him and found that due to pain in his Achilles tendon, he could not play against Slovakia in the last qualifying match for the European Championships on Saturday. A source close to Rakitic said that he traveled from Barcelona to Zagreb with the pain already. 

After returning to the club, he was examined by Barcelona doctors on Tuesday, who confirmed the issue with his Achilles tendon. It is not yet known when he will be back on the pitch. 

Rakitic practiced separately from teammates at Barcelona's camp on Tuesday and was not included in the player list for a humanitarian friendly match that Barcelona will play on Wednesday in the southern city of Cartagena.

Translated from HRT

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Once Irreplaceable, Now Undesired: Ivan Rakitic Nearing End at Barcelona

October 15, 2019 - Once an irreplaceable Barcelona midfielder has become written off, unwanted, and deceived in the span of a few months. Is Ivan Rakitic finally on his way out of the Catalan club?

However, writes that the thirty-one-year-old Ivan Rakitic did not give up without a fight and refused to leave his beloved Barcelona this summer. But after he found himself as part of the starting eleven only once this season so far, he’s realized that after five and a half years, he'd have to consider leaving the club where he wanted to end his career.

Rakitic is hurting the most from Barcelona's mind games. In the summer of 2018, PSG handed him an unbelievable offer, but coach Ernesto Valverde ultimately demanded his stay, noting that Rakitic was irreplaceable to him. Barcelona president Bartomeu agreed, adding that he would offer the key midfielder a new, improved, "lifelong" contract. Following these guarantees, Rakitic was convinced that he would remain at Barcelona as one of the untouchable players. 

But earlier this year, the situation radically changed for the worse when Barcelona purchased Frenkie De Jong. The fantastic Dutchman, who is nine years younger than Rakitic, was called the 'future of Barcelona' and football in general. Barcelona brought the young midfielder over from Ajax for 75 million euro. It was a clear signal to Rakitic that he was no longer a key player for the club, though he refused to accept it.

With Jong's arrival this summer, Rakitic has been degraded among the reserves. The rejuvenation of Barcelona is a strategic project decided by the management - and Rakitic was its first victim.

Having struggled fiercely this summer to convince the club that he still has a place in Barcelona, Rakitic has now understood the message and, as Marca writes, began looking for a new club himself. Manchester United and Juventus are interested in the Croatian midfielder, and while he still has two years left of his contract at Barcelona, due to his great merits, the club won’t give him trouble leaving as early as the winter deadline, nor will it set too high of an asking price. 

Rakitic came to Barcelona in the summer of 2014 from Sevilla for 18 million euro. Since then, he has played 274 games for Barcelona, scoring 34 goals and assisting 37. He has won four La Liga titles and the King Cup, one Champions League and one Club World Cup. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Ivan Rakitić 'At The Limit', According to Latest FIFPro Report

August 11, 2019 - Croatia national team representative and Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić has been named as a player who has participated in an excessive number of matches, which could affect his health, the International Federation of Professional Footballers warned.

Namely, FIFPro, a worldwide union of football players based in the Netherlands, has published a report titled ‘At The Limit’, which warns that clubs are exhausting their players, says HRT.

Some of them have played nearly 80 games in a season, racking up over 100,000 kilometers traveling with their clubs and national teams. The union surveyed 500 elite football players, and cited the 31-year-old Barcelona and Croatia midfielder as a prime example of someone who is ‘at the limit’.

Since his arrival in Barcelona in 2014, Rakitić has been a standard member of the star-studded line-up and has also been a star for the Croatia national team. Last season, Rakitić played 68 games between May 25, 2018, and June 13, 2019. Of these, 14 were with the national team with which he traveled 30,000 kilometers.

FIFPro warns that Rakitic has played 72 percent of his matches without respecting the five-day break between them. A five-day break between games is a necessary period to avoid health problems in the short and long term.

Rakitić, along with midfielder Sergio Busquets, was last year's player with the most appearances for Spanish champion Barcelona after returning from the World Cup where he made it to the final with Croatia. Asked about his number of games in November after a match between Rayo Vallecano and Barcelona in Madrid, he laughed and said:

“You have to have strength.”

Increasingly competitive leagues and international tournaments are causing players to have shorter periods of rest every day, FIFPro warns. In some cases, footballers have less than two weeks of summer vacation. The physical and psychological exhaustion of players is becoming more pronounced, they added.

Heung-Min Son (Tottenham, South Korea), Lasse Schöne (Ajax, Denmark), Alisson Becker (Liverpool, Brazil) and Sadio Mané (Liverpool, Senegal) are also on the list of players with the highest number of matches played.

FIFPro recommends that at the end of the season, players should have a 4-week holiday and two weeks off during the winter. It is necessary to limit the number of times a footballer plays consecutively for a period of fewer than five days. Five days is the golden period between two matches played to avoid injuries and health problems.

Furthermore, it is necessary to consider introducing the maximum number of matches a footballer can play in a season in order to preserve his health and performance. In addition, an early alert system should be introduced to monitor the players' workloads and help them plan their performances.

To meet the demands of the match calendar, players are often asked to push their limits, without enough rest and refreshment, said Theo van Seggelen, Secretary-General of FIFPro.

This means that they cannot provide maximum impact, but even worse, players face periods of great mental and physical tension. Scientific research has confirmed that the health of top-level footballers is in jeopardy due to the current tight schedule and number of matches.

Van Seggelen called on all participants of football competitions to jointly establish a mechanism that would reduce pressure on players and preserve their health, career, and play as such.

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