Ivan Rakitic and his Croatian teammates have a chance of reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup this evening if they can beat hosts Russia. And ahead of the game, the Barcelona midfielder spoke to our colleagues at El Pais about Luka Modric, Andres Iniesta and Croatia’s chances of winning the World Cup.
Do you remember when you played with Switzerland Under-17s against Croatia?
As if it were yesterday. It was the match that I have least enjoyed in my life. That day I realized that something was not right. I wouldn't have liked to play against Switzerland either. It is my home. I am a big fan of the Swiss national team, I was very sad about their elimination. Now I hope that all the people in Switzerland will support me and Croatia.
What did you think when you saw Iniesta on the bench for Spain against Russia?
At that moment, I felt like I did not understand anything about soccer. I thought I was playing another sport. Seeing the best player, perhaps, in history in his position on the bench hurt me a lot.
Modric makes his teammates better. Are there players from Spain who could not perform like him at Madrid?
It may be so, but I don't like to see him at Madrid. He is a player who has a very different talent, he improves anyone who is around him. It shows when he is not on the field; Madrid is a different team without Luka.
What is your view of Messi’s World Cup?
I always want Leo on my team. He is, by far, the best in the world. But playing for a national team is not the same as playing for your club, it happens to everyone. Also, for any team, facing Argentina and Leo is a special kind of motivation. We prepared for that match in a very specific way to make sure that he wasn’t comfortable.
Can Croatia win the World Cup?
The most important thing is Russia. Dreaming is good, but you have to think about the next game.