Thursday, 17 February 2022

Europa League Playoff: Ivan Rakitić and Sevilla Top Dinamo 3:1 in First Leg

February 17, 2022 - Captian Ivan Rakitić and Sevilla top Dinamo 3:1 in the first leg of the Europa League playoff on Thursday in Spain. 

In the first match of the Europa League playoff, Dinamo Zagreb lost to Sevilla 1:3 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. The return match is on February 24 at Maksimir Stadium.

As a reminder, eight winners of the Europa League groups won a direct place in the round of 16, while eight second-placed teams, including Dinamo, entered the play-off round against the eight third-placed teams from the Champions League.

Dinamo was second in Group H behind West Ham, while Sevilla was third in Group G of the Champions League behind Lille and RB Salzburg. The better of this pair will win a place in the Europa League round of 16.

Sevilla took the lead in the 13th minute with a penalty scored by former Croatia player Ivan Rakitic. Mislav Oršić equalized in the 41st minute, though the host turned the score around with two goals by the end of the first half. Lucas Ocampos scored in the 44th for 2:1, and two minutes later, Anthony Martial scored for 3:1.

Dinamo welcomed the visit to Sevilla with a series of seven consecutive victories, while Sevilla celebrated only once in the last five matches before Dinamo. However, Sevilla had lost only once in 15 home games - to Lille in the Champions League.

Željko Kopić could not count on Josip Mišić due to yellow cards, while Dino Perić and Emir Dilaver suffered injuries. Unfortunately, Luka Ivanušec dropped out last minute due to an adductor problem.

Captain Ivan Rakitic led Sevilla on Thursday night.

"It was strange to see Livaković in goal," said Rakitic with a smile after the match. 

"We are happy and proud; we achieved a victory against the fantastic Dinamo. It was not easy; we played an interesting game and deservedly won," Rakitic added.

"It was important that we reacted quickly after Oršić's goal. Then, in the second half, we controlled the result. This is a good result, but open. We know how important Europe is; you must always be at the highest level," concluded the Croatia midfielder.

Source: HRT

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Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Sportyn App Activates New Challenge Feature at Dalmatinko Cup - And Rakitić's Autographed Cleats are Up for Grabs

June 23, 2021 - The Sportyn app will activate its new Challenge feature at the international youth football tournament Dalmatinko Cup this week, where the best footballing skills presented via the Sportyn application will receive the grand prize from Croatian football star Ivan Rakitić! 

Organized by the Dalmatinko Association, Dalmatinko Cup is one of the largest international youth football tournaments in Croatia. It is also the first youth football tournament with competition for both boys and girls in its program.

Guided by three components - sports, tourism, and social responsibility, the organizers endeavor to allow the youngest footballers to socialize through sports competitions with peers from other areas, all while promoting Dalmatian tourism, healthy living, and helping those in need. 


Dalmatinko Cup

“The Dalmatinko Cup was created in 2016 after I visited many football tournaments with my eldest son and saw that the vast majority of them are reduced to just playing football. My desire was to provide children with much more than that - I wanted children to enjoy sports, socialize, and accept tolerance and equality to become better people.

I wanted to create a project that will give children from all over the world, coaches, and parents the opportunity to get to know Croatia's beauties, culture, and heritage. So we created a synergy of sports, social responsibility, and tourism, and then difficultly, created friendships and partnerships with many clubs. Over time, the story of the Dalmatinko Cup, a top organization, children's development, and the values ​​we promote, has led us to today, and we now cooperate with clubs from 23 countries. As a result, Dalmatinko Cup is one of the largest sports projects in Europe,”  said Dalmatinko Cup organizer Domagoj Bojčić. 

Dalmatinko Cup organizers strive to be active participants in society and community development, promoting sportsmanship, fair play, tolerance, and quality of life. They thus hope to engage in long-term cooperation with international sports teams, the local community, and the local economy. 

“The goals of the Dalmatinko Cup are to promote tolerance, gender equality, fair play, and equal opportunities for all children. Our slogan is ‘More than football,’ and in addition to the exceptional sporting quality of the tournament, we offer all participants a whole range of additional facilities, tours, excursions, and the feeling of playing the World Cup. Furthermore, Dalmatinko Cup is the only tournament in Southeastern Europe in which both boys and girls participate. We have 7 men's and 3 women's categories, and many looked at me in amazement when I decided to create a tournament for children of both genders. We are proud of this achievement.

Horizontal goals have imposed themselves. The development of sports tourism in Croatia has been a priority for us from the beginning because this tourist niche has huge potential. We have a beautiful country, a God-given climate, and top sports results, and we have to do everything to take advantage of such comparative advantages and create a real tourism product. The Dalmatian cup gives just that.

Another horizontal goal is to foster social responsibility and an awareness that we must take care of others. We have to teach children the right values, after all, 99% of them will not be professional athletes, but our task is to create better people. Also, altruism, volunteering, and the desire for the community in which we live to be of better quality must be our priorities,” added Bojčić. 

In 6 years, the Dalmatinko Cup has gathered over 15,000 athletes from 23 countries. While the COVID-19 pandemic has set limitations in holding this year's tournament, it could not stop the organizers from letting the kids play, all while following epidemiological measures, of course. 


Dalmatinko Cup

Despite the pandemic, this year’s tournament boasts 170 teams from 11 countries. 

“We will have about 12,000 overnight stays, and our guests will stay for a few days after the tournament is over. The promotion of Croatia through the Dalmatinko Cup is fantastic, and the strength and quality of the tournament is at the very top of Europe,” said Bojčić. 

Thus, from June 24 to 27, Dalmatinko Cup will be held in Kaštel Gomilica (NK GOŠK), Trogir (NK TROGIR), Solin/Vranjic (NK Omladinac), and Split (HNK Hajduk), including around 2,000 participants from Croatia and abroad, in under 8 to under 17 age groups! The opening ceremony will kick off the tournament on the evening of June 24 in Marina Kaštela. 

But the beauty of the Dalmatinko Cup is that the football competition is only part of it. 

The Dalmatinko Association prides itself in a completely new sports marketing model, which can be seen in the unique offer outside of football. The tournament not only encourages participants to explore the region with organized excursions to Split, Poljud Stadium, or in the museum town of Trogir, but they can even take part in an unforgettable ride at sea on the Plurato Sailfin electric hydrofoil board, suitable for both beginners and experienced watersport enthusiasts. 

However, the standout activity at this year's Dalmatinko Cup is presented by Sportyn, an AI video-sharing app to empower all athletes, designed to change the future of player promotion, developing funding, and sports recruitment. 


New on the app market, Sportyn was launched by a team of innovators, pro athletes, and entrepreneurs and has even joined forces with former FC Barcelona player and Croatia national team member Ivan Rakitić.  

Doing for sport what LinkedIn does for business, Sportyn harnesses the power of vertical integration in social media to level the playing field of sporting opportunity for 2 billion people, and it's activating its new Challenge feature at the Dalmatinko Cup.


So, what is the Sportyn Challenge feature all about? 

Across 4 days on these 4 Dalmatian football fields, Sportyn promoters will encourage all attendees to become a part of the Sportyn worldwide sporting community by downloading this application for free. Sportyn promoters will show players and attendees how they can participate in Sportyn challenges to win attractive prizes at the tournament.

Two unique challenges will be presented at the Dalmatinko Cup, where players will demonstrate their football skills and tricks, namely, through ball precision and football techniques to a global audience. 

Daily winners will be selected by the number of views, ratings, shares, comments, and others generated by their Challenge video within the Sportyn app, with daily winners awarded and the MVP player of the tournament named based on an all-time high score! In addition, the MVP will get to take home the grand prize - brand new football cleats signed by Ivan Rakitić! 


“Sportyn is happy to be a part of the Dalmatinko Cup, a sports tournament that shares our same values. We work hard to empower athletes and strive to find ways to support and promote sports and athletes. We hope that all participants will download the Sportyn application to promote Dalmatinko Cup and become a part of the world's fastest-growing sporting community,” said Sportyn founder & CEO Ivan Ilečić.

Sportyn will also host a meet & greet with Croatian football greats, including Stipe Pletikosa, Robert Jarni, and Mile Rapaić! 


The Dalmatinko Cup closing ceremony and awards will take place after the tournament’s last game. Held at NK Trogir, team and individual awards will be enhanced by 2 acapella singing groups, brass music, and entertainment for all ages. 

The matches of the tournament are broadcast live, with the images of Dalmatinka and Dalmatia reaching all over the world. 

“The final, which takes place in Trogir at perhaps the most beautiful stadium in the world, which is literally on the sea and between two towers, is something to experience first hand,” concluded Bojčić. 

All will have a fab footballing time!

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Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Ivan Rakitic Becomes the First UEFA Children's Foundation Ambassador

February 24, 2021 - Former legendary Croatia national team player and first-team player of Sevilla, Ivan Rakitic, will be the first UEFA Children's Foundation ambassador. 

HNS reports that Rakitic will have the opportunity to participate in initiatives led by the UEFA Foundation and promote the work of a body that helps improve the lives of children around the world.

"I am proud to be part of the UEFA Children's Foundation family. I am really happy about that, but at the same time, I will have a great responsibility to show everyone that the UEFA Foundation and we players can achieve a lot and, above all, help children from all over the world to be happy and to laugh. I am the father of two girls, and I know very well what a smile on a child's face means," said Ivan Rakitić.

The president of UEFA, Aleksander Čeferin, who is also the president of the Board of the Children's Foundation, is delighted with Rakitić's support for the organization.

"Ivan Rakitić is not only one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, but he is also a person who wants to make a tangible difference off the field to improve the lives of others. I am impressed by Ivan’s dedication and desire to help children worldwide; we look forward to working closely together to achieve our goals. Our doors are always open to players, past and present. I would like you to follow Ivan's example and join the UEFA Foundation as ambassadors," said Alexander Čeferin.

Ivan won the historic silver with Croatia at the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and became European champion with Barcelona in 2015. In 2014 as captain of Sevilla, he won the Europa League. He recorded 106 appearances for Croatia before ending his national team career last year.

"I hope I have many more good years ahead of me, but I am convinced that when I finish my playing career, I will have more time to travel and be available. Of course, I want to dedicate myself to this role of ambassador from day one. Still, when I retire from playing, I am sure that I will have the opportunity to participate more in projects, and therefore my satisfaction will be even greater. The idea of being part of this family thrilled me from the very beginning; I hope to be an ambassador for many years because I know how important it is. We want to make as many children happy as possible," Rakitić concluded.

Since the UEFA Foundation was founded five years ago, around one million children have benefited from its range of activities worldwide, supporting projects in a hundred countries on five continents. Through sports, and especially football, the UEFA Foundation provides children in difficult conditions with hope for achieving life goals.

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

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Ivan Rakitic is Open to Returning to the Croatia National Team

September 30, 2020 - Ivan Rakitic is open to returning to the Croatia national team, the footballer revealed in an exclusive interview with HRT. 

When Ivan Rakitic announced a week ago that he was saying goodbye to the Croatia national football team, many were surprised, though others saw it coming. One of the greatest football players in Croatian history revealed in an exclusive interview with HRT what reasons led Ivan Rakitic to the end of his Croatia career.

Behind Ivan Rakitic is a turbulent period where he made several difficult life decisions for himself and his family, and they followed in his footsteps - even the dogs!

"Dogs are part of our family. There is something else that has not been seen, we also have a little rabbit. In a way we came home, we are where it all started."

Judging by the first two appearances for his new-old club Sevilla, Ivan Rakitic showed that he did not lose the class that adorned him playing for Barcelona at the highest level. Sevilla’s new number 10 won a penalty kick in the Super Cup against Bayern and scored in the Spanish championship against Cadiz.

"There is still work to be done and to prepare even better. For all of us, this summer was something different."

And another very emotional rollercoaster was saying goodbye to the national team.

"The hardest day, maybe the worst day. After no defeat in my career have I felt such pressure in my chest. When I picked up my phone to call the coach, in a way, the words didn't want to come out..."

HRT asked if he would come back if Dalic needed him again to shoot that crucial penalty.

"I always want to leave the door open. My national team, my Vatreni, the coach and the whole of Croatia can count on me. In minutes and penalties - I am always ready for my Croatia."

And he didn't hesitate for long when asked about the Vatreni moment he would remember for the rest of his life.

"Every day was special, every day was something different."

Recall, after 106 appearances and 15 goals for the Croatia national football team, Ivan Rakitic decided to retire. The vice-captain of the national team was one of the key players in Croatia's campaign for the World Cup silver in 2018, when he scored the decisive penalties in the victories against Denmark and Russia.

"Saying goodbye to the Croatia national team is the most difficult decision in my career, but I felt that this was the moment when I had to break and make that decision. I enjoyed every game I played for my homeland, and unforgettable moments from the World Cup will remain among my favorites. I am convinced that we still have a great team with a bright future ahead. I wish my friends and teammates all the international sports luck in the upcoming challenges, and they will have the biggest fan in me," said Ivan Rakitic on his farewell.

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Monday, 21 September 2020

Ivan Rakitic Retires from Croatia National Team

September 21, 2020 -  After 106 games and 15 goals, Ivan Rakitic retires from the Croatia national team.

HNS announced that after 106 appearances and 15 goals for the Croatia national football team, Ivan Rakitic decided to hang up his boots. The current vice-captain of the national team was one of the key players in Croatia's campaign for the World Cup silver in 2018, when he scored the decisive penalties in the victories against Denmark and Russia.

"Saying goodbye to the Croatia national team is the most difficult decision in my career, but I felt that this was the moment when I had to break and make that decision. I enjoyed every game I played for my homeland, and unforgettable moments from the World Cup will remain among my favorites. I am convinced that we still have a great team with a bright future ahead. I wish my friends and teammates all the international sports luck in the upcoming challenges, and they will have the biggest fan in me," said Ivan Rakitic on his farewell.

Rakitic spoke about the decision with coach Zlatko Dalic, HNS president Davor Suker and captain Luka Modric, and in the coming days he will address the public with a wider statement.

"I spoke to Ivan who explained to me his thinking and the reasons why he decided on this move. As a coach, I am sorry that he will not continue to play for Croatia, but of course, I respect his decision, as was the case with Mandzukic, Subasic and Corluka after the World Cup," commented Zlatko Dalic on Ivan Rakitic's decision to say goodbye to the Croatia national team.

"The fact that in a difficult situation he chose Croatia over Switzerland, in which he grew up, speaks volumes about his love for the Croatia national team. Over the next more than 100 appearances, he showed with how much passion he plays for Croatia."

After the World Cup, Rakitic was absent more than he was available to Dalic, and he played his last game for the national team on October 13 last year against Wales.

"Ivan had a great career in the national team, and none of us will forget that cold-bloodedness when performing the decisive penalties at the World Cup. I am grateful to him from the bottom of my heart for everything he has given Croatia on and off the field as the assistant captain of the national team and I wish him all the best, a lot of success and health in the continuation of his club career," Dalic concluded.

More soon...

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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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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Modric and Rakitic Drop Out of Croatia Squad Ahead of Portugal and France Matches

August 27, 2020 -  Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic will miss the opening of the Nations League, which awaits the Croatia national team in early September. Coach Zlatko Dalic has invited Antonio Colak, Ante Budimir and Milo Skoric in their place.

HNS announced that in agreement with coach Dalic, the September gathering of the Croatia national team will be missed by captain Luka Modric and vice-captain Ivan Rakitic, while Wolfsburg stopper Marin Pongracic dropped out of the lineup due to illness.

Coach Dalic will replace these three players by activating three call-ups - attackers Antonio Colak and Ante Budimir and stopper Milo Skoric.

Osijek captain and stopper Skoric (29) has already made three appearances for Croatia. He made his debut on May 28, 2017, in a 2-1 win over Mexico in a friendly match. He made his last appearance on November 19 last year against Georgia, also in a friendly match when Croatia celebrated 2-1. Rijeka striker Colak (26) and Mallorca striker Budimir (29) have not yet made their debut for the strongest Croatia squad.

In addition, coach Dalic gave two additional days off to Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic, who played in the finals of the Champions League and Europa League, respectively. They will join the national team on Wednesday, September 2.

Recall that the national team gathers on August 31 in Zagreb, which is followed by two initial exams in the new edition of the Nations League. Namely, on September 5, Croatia will play in Porto against Portugal, and three days later, the World Cup finalists will play in St. Denis in a rematch against the 2018 World Champions, France. 

The first home game in this competition will be played on October 11 against Sweden, and that game should, for now, be played at Maksimir. Three days later, France should play at the same stadium.

Croatia will play against Sweden away on November 14, three days before Portugal visits Croatia, potentially at Poljud Stadium in Split.

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Friday, 10 July 2020

Croatia National Team Looking Around the World for New Players

July 10, 2020 - The president of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), Davor Suker, said in an interview with the Spanish sports newspaper AS that he would look for players of Croatian origin around the world that could play for the Croatia national team.

"We have a lot of big projects along the way, including organizing competitions for Croatian footballers in the USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Australia and other countries with a strong Croatian diaspora. Compared to Germany, Spain, France, Italy or England, we have a small population, so we need to identify all talented Croatian players, in all corners of the world," said Suker on HRT, noting that he is focused on current work in HNS and that he "enjoys his position", and is also focused on working in the Executive Board of the European Football Association (UEFA), so he is not thinking about changing jobs.

The former striker of Sevilla and Real Madrid thinks that it would be good for the captain of the national team, Luka Modric, to play fewer games at his club next season so that he could come to the European Championship in June 2021 fresh and ready.

"For us in Croatia, it would be good for Luka to come to the Euros with 35 to 40 games played instead of 55 to 60. The next season, with a full calendar, will be challenging for everyone. At this point in his career, I think he would be better off not playing all the games," Suker said.

Modric has made 36 appearances for Real Madrid so far this season. By the end of the championship, there are four games left and the return match of the last-16 of the Champions League against Manchester City. The Madrid club lost at home in the first round 1-2. Modric will turn 35 in two months and is the oldest player at Real Madrid. His contract with the leading team of the Spanish championship expires in a year. Asked whether Real Madrid would extend his contract after June 30, 2021, Suker replied:

"That is not my decision, and I respect Luka and Real very much to suggest something to them. Luka is a phenomenon, he will turn 35 in September, he has won everything in his career, and he still has the same ambition, passion and hunger for football like a young player. Luka takes good care of his body and continues to show first-class football on the pitch. I believe Real Madrid respects that and appreciates everything he has done there over the years. Therefore, I believe that he will have a place for him as long as he plays at this level," said Suker.

The vice-captain of the Croatian national team, Ivan Rakitic, will have his contract with Barcelona expire in a year. Suker was asked if the Catalan club was unfair to the 32-year-old midfielder because he was deprived of his place in the starting lineup this season, while speculations about his possible sale are ongoing.

"I do not participate in the daily activities of Barcelona, ​​so I cannot judge whether Ivan was treated unfairly, only he knows that. I know he is proud to wear the Barca jersey and always gives his best. He has more than 300 appearances for Barca, has won many trophies, and has been a key player in many important matches. In addition, he is a great worker on the pitch, is focused on the team, has leadership skills and never creates problems in the dressing room. I believe that all coaches and clubs are more than happy to have such a player," Suker replied.

Last month, Rakitic said that he wanted to play more at Barcelona, ​​where he has been since the summer of 2014, and to stay there as long as possible.

"At this stage of his career, after everything he has won, it is normal that he wants to play and not sit on the bench. If he can play in Barcelona, ​​I believe that will remain his first option. But if Ivan and Barcelona feel that the time has come to take a new step, which is normal in football, I do not doubt that he will be a great reinforcement for any big club because he still has a lot of good football left in him," Suker believes.

Rakitic has played in 39 games for the current champion Barcelona, ​​which currently holds second place in the championship.

"If he leaves Barcelona, ​​he will be proud of the time he spent there because it was six great years. When you spend your best years playing for a big club and winning big trophies, it means that you have managed your career well," said the president of HNS.

Suker played for Sevilla as a striker from 1991 to 1996 and then moved to Real Madrid, where he remained until 1999.

To conclude, it was announced on Thursday by HRT that Zlatko Dalic will lead the national team until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The president of the Croatian Football Federation and Dalic have officially agreed on a new contract for two years and five months.

This has yet to be confirmed by the HNS Executive Board, which will meet later this month, but it should only be a formality.

Dalic was supposed to lead Croatia at the Euros in 2020, and as it was postponed for a year, he decided to stay at least until then. His existing contract ended in the summer, and he had rich offers from China and Arab countries.

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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.

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


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