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

Daniela Rogulj

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.


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