Ivan Rakitic is back at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to take on his former team Barcelona and captain Lionel Messi in the Copa del Rey with a place in the final up for grabs.
Sevilla head into the match with a 2-0 lead from the first leg and with Rakitic happy to talk about the Catalan giants in the build-up to the match. The Copa del Rey looks both teams’ best chance of silverware this season and Rakitic admits he’s been talking trophies with Messi.
The Croatia international was interviewed by Guillem Balagué on LaLigaTV and admitted to teasing the 33-year-old about a trophy that he’s won and the Barcelona captain is never likely to lift, as reported by Mail Online.
I was speaking to Messi and said, ‘You have won it all, have scored all these goals’, but I told him, ‘I have won a trophy you’ll never have… You’ll never win the Europa League.’
Rakitic won the Europa League with Sevilla in 2013-14 before he joined Barcelona and spent six years with the Catalan giants. The midfielder returned to Sevilla in the summer after winning 13 trophies during his time at the Camp Nou.
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Rakitic Talks Barcelona Clash
Wednesday’s match promises to be an intriguing affair with Barcelona 2-0 down in the tie but having beaten Sevilla by the same scoreline at the weekend in La Liga. Coach Ronald Koeman switched tactics for the match, using three central defenders, and playing Ousmane Dembele in attack with Messi.
The changes worked well with Dembele and Messi both on target, and Rakitic told Radio Marca how his team must improve if they are to see off Sevilla and progress to a final against Levante or Athletic, as reported by Sport.
We have to change details like for the first goal. They robbed us and Leo got the ball, turned and could give the pass. You can’t allow Barca that. We did not suffer that much, you can’t allow them the bare minimum.
Sevilla will, of course, have to pay particular attention to Messi who seems to thrive against the Andusian side. His goal at the weekend was his 30th in 29 games against Sevilla in La Liga, making the team his favorite victims. In total Messi has 38 goals in 42 games against Sevilla in all competitions.
Rakitic Praises Xavi and Iniesta
Rakitic also spoke about former team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi in his interview with Balague. The midfielder played alongside the two club legends in the heart of the Barcelona team after he first arrived and revealed what he learned from the duo.
I was lucky enough to spend a year working with Xavi, many years with Andres Iniesta and I even built a relationship outside of football with them I learned from those guys on the field, of course, but especially off the field, seeing them every day made me think ‘There’s a reason they are the best.’
I joined a team that was really good, and they knew it. But if I could contribute, even just a little bit to them, my way of experiencing football, of playing it, I knew that I would achieve a lot. How would I do it? Have incredible dedication like they have.’
Those guys weren’t given anything. They earned their success. It’s no coincidence those guys have won it all. Every player had a part to play. Each of them done things their own way, but it’s always to win. We said in Berlin ahead of the Champions League final, ‘With everyone together, no one will beat us.’
It’s no surprise to see Rakitic remember his time at Barcelona so fondly given the success he achieved at the Camp Nou. Yet those friendships will be put to one side on Wednesday as both Barcelona and Sevilla aim to move one step closer to Copa del Rey glory.