Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Rakitić and Lovren Meet in First Leg of Champions League Semi-final Tonight

Barcelona hosts Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday. It is the battle of the Croatians, as Ivan Rakitić and Dejan Lovren meet, reports on April 30, 2019. 

Unlike Tottenham and Ajax, who, contrary to all expectations, advanced to the Champions League semi-final, Barcelona and Liverpool, the more likely clubs in this stage of the competition, are two 'heavyweight clubs that have won 10 European titles overall. 

Interestingly, both Barcelona and Liverpool have five titles, and both clubs have been defeated three times in the final.

Barcelona’s last final was in 2015 when they won the Champions League title, while Liverpool lost to Real Madrid last summer and has been waiting to wear the European crown since 2005. 

Regardless of the semi-final outcome, Croatian football has yet another reason to be proud, as one Croatian will be in the Champions League final on June 1st at Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid - Dejan Lovren or Ivan Rakitić.

After an injury, Lovren should finally be ready for the match tonight, but whether he will play in Liverpool’s starting lineup is questionable. Rakitić, one the other hand, is one of Barcelona's biggest hopes.

Barcelona already claimed the La Liga title on Saturday and can focus all of their attention to the Champions League, while Liverpool continues to run an exhausting battle on the two fronts, the Premier League and the Champions League. Two rounds before the end of the championship, Manchester City is one point ahead of Liverpool. The ‘Reds’, however, are hoping to clinch the Premier League title; one they have been waiting for since 1990.

"The fact that we are in the semifinal of the Champions League, and just before winning the Championship, makes us happy and hungry for new victories. You can always play better and get to these games in a better way, but we will play with a real desire to go to the final,” Rakitić said.

"I believe we have learned something from the previous seasons and we will now try to end this season perfectly,” he added.

"The most important thing now is to prepare well and play our game as usual. Our idea is not to score a single goal, but we cannot think of the return game now. We have to go for the victory but play calm. Liverpool can be dangerous, so we will have to be 100% concentrated,” Rakitić said.

And what will it be like playing against Lovren?

"I have great respect for him. All teams that are led by coach Jurgen Klopp have always been arranged well and he has drawn the best out of the players. I hope we stop them as soon as possible and then impose our own rhythm of the game. I also hope to score as soon as possible. The defense, however, is strong and they do not make it easy to score goals,” concluded Rakitić.

Barcelona and Liverpool will meet at 21:00 tonight.

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

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Croatia to Have a Representative in Champions League Final for 8th Consecutive Year

No matter how the semifinals end, Croatia will have one representative in the Champions League final on June 1st in Madrid.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Does Ivan Rakitić Have a Future at Barcelona?

Ahead of Barcelona’s game against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, coach Ernesto Valverde talked about the possibility of Ivan Rakitić leaving Barcelona, which has circulated throughout international media in recent weeks.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

No Luck for Luka: Ivan Rakitić Key Player in Barcelona's El Clasico Win

March 3, 2019 - Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić met on Saturday evening in the always anticipated El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

This was the second time the two Spanish clubs met this week, as they played the second-leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday. 

Just as Barcelona was better on Wednesday, winning by three goals, they were better again on Saturday with another win in Madrid - and this time, thanks to Croatia’s Ivan Rakitić. 

In the 26th minute, the Croatian player, who was also one of the best players in the game, received a brilliant ball in the penalty area from Sergio Roberto, chipped the ball passed Madrid keeper Thibault Courtois and gave Barcelona the lead - and ultimately the win. This is Rakitić’s third goal this season in the Spanish championship.

Not even Ballon d’Or winner and Rakitić’s fellow countryman Luka Modrić could help Madrid, who played their sixth consecutive El Clasico without a win. Recall, Barcelona has won four and two games ended in a draw. The victory also has an important historical factor, as Barcelona, for the first time since 87 years, has taken over Real Madrid in the competition - Barcelona now has 96 wins, and Real 95.

“With all due respect to Real Madrid, we have made an important step towards winning the championship. Now we have to enjoy it together, let all the fans and admirers of Barcelona enjoy, and then we will turn to what is ahead of us,” said the 30-year-old Rakitić at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid.

First-placed Barcelona is now 12 points ahead of the third-placed Madrid on the table. 

“When you win you have to be very happy. I'm proud of what we did. There are not many teams in the world that can say they won twice in three days,” the Croatian midfielder said on HRT

Rakitić scored 26 minutes in for the lead, his fifth goal in 39 appearances this season.

"We talked about what happened on Wednesday, and then we started the game well. We created opportunities and felt comfortable. They pressed in the second half, which was normal because they were looking to equalize, but we managed to end the game with some counter attacks. It's a perfect thing that we've won this game here,” Rakitić said.

Even Jose Mourinho, who played the part of a television commentator on Saturday, focused a lot of his attention on El Clasico. He especially hailed Ivan Rakitić.

"I have been saying this for a long time: for me, Rakitić is one of the most underappreciated players in the world. He’s fantastic in every aspect, works a lot in the defense and compensates for Messi's defensive performance. He is fantastic with the ball, chooses simple and efficient solutions,” he said, and finished sarcastically, reports

“I wanted to say this because we are mostly talking about big names. Rakitić needs to improve his Instagram and social networks, which is very important today. He’s not so good at it, but he's good on the field,” he said.

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

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Big Clubs after Rakitić, but He Confirms Loyalty to Barcelona

According to media reports on Tuesday, Croatian footballer Ivan Rakitić could see a move to England.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Marca Names Six Croatian Footballers in Top 100 of 2018

The famous Spanish sports daily Marca has conducted a major poll among its readers to choose the top 100 footballers in 2018. Six Croatian footballers made the list. 

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Ivan Rakitić is King of La Liga, Completed Most Passes in 2018

Ivan Rakitić has been flawless in his role as the central midfielder of Barcelona. Coach Ernesto Valverde showers him with so much praise after each game, Barcelona fans joke that Rakitić is Valverde’s cousin. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Modrić and Rakitić Nominated for UEFA's Best Team of 2018

The Union of European Football Associations, known better as UEFA, will select the best 11 footballers of 2018. Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić are among the 50 nominees. 

Monday, 19 November 2018

Croatia's Top 10 Highest-Paid Footballers Revealed

Which Croatian footballer earns the most? And who may not be bringing in a pretty penny? Here’s our look at Croatia’s top 10 highest-paid footballers.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Video Featuring Famous Croats Chosen as Best Croatian Tourism Film

More than 807 films from 91 countries were introduced at this year's Zagreb TourFilm Festival, and the best among them were screened during the last three days at Kaptol Boutique Cinema.

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