Barcelona

  • Barcelona midfielder Rakitic has 'enormo...

    Ivan Rakitic says he has "enormous respect" for England ahead of their World Cup semi-final rematch in the Nations League. Croatia came out on top at Russia 2018 after downing England in extra-time, although Zlatko Dalic's side then lost to France in the final. England and Croa...

    Barcelona midfielder Rakitic has 'enormous respect' for England ahead of Nations League decider

    Ivan Rakitic says he has "enormous respect" for England ahead of their World Cup semi-final rematch in the Nations League. Croatia came out on top at Russia 2018 after downing England in extra-time, although Zlatko Dalic's side then lost to France in the final. England and Croatia played out a goalless draw earlier in their Nations League group but relegation and a place in the tournament's finals are on the line at Wembley on Sunday.  A draw would send Spain through, while defeat for either side means relegation to League B, with the victors heading into the inaugural competition's end-of-season finals. A hamstring injury sustained in Croatia's victory over Spain on Thursday means Rakitic himself won't be able to play a part. Respect was a hot topic between the sides around the World Cup semi-final, with Croatia complaining England had taken victory for granted, but Rakitic knows what to expect when his side face the Three Lions again. "My respect for them is enormous and it is not a coincidence that they have since been capable of going on and beaten Spain in Spain," the Barcelona midfielder told the Daily Mail.  "That performance did not come from a couple of weeks before the game, it goes back to the World Cup. "It's not that the tournament opened up for England. It was one of the strongest and most competitive World Cups, with very few games that ended with an easy victory for anyone. Certainly nobody had us down as finalists when the tournament started." The full-time whistle in the semi-final was followed by scenes of delirium as Croatia celebrated reaching their first World Cup final and Rakitic defended his team-mates actions in the immediate aftermath of the victory.  "It was just a moment of complete madness for us. I don't know which player it was who said that we lacked respect because we did not shake hands at the end, but you have to understand this is a moment when we have got Croatia into a World Cup final." Rakitic added.  "I don't know how many inhabitants London has – eight million or so – well that's almost double Croatia's population. So it's not that we wanted to show any disrespect to England but it is just in that moment all Croatians wanted to embrace all other Croatians! You felt like you wanted to go to all the continents of the world and hug another Croatian." Croatia successfully stifled England in the semi-final and Rakitic gave an insight into how Dalic's men looked to target John Stones during the match. "The most important thing for us was not to let them play out [from defence] comfortably," he added. "We knew that Stones was their most important player in terms of playing out. We had analysed him a lot. "Whenever there is a line of three central defenders, the one in the middle is the focal point. He is the one that comes out and looks to draw the centre-forward in so he can then release someone else. "We also knew that Stones, after various years with Pep Guardiola, knew how to do that job very well. At Barca there are plays that are rehearsed and trained and I could see that England also had those plays very well-worked. "A lot of people said we wouldn't be able to take another extra-time but we played our best extra-time of the tournament. With a little bit of luck we got the second goal with a headed clearance that falls right to Mario Mandzukic."

  • Croatia star Rakitic ruled out of Englan...

    Ivan Rakitic is out of Croatia's crunch Nations League clash with England, coach Zlatko Dalic has confirmed. Rakitic was substituted during the second half of Croatia's dramatic 3-2 victory at home to Spain on Thursday, with Tin Jedvaj hitting a 93rd-minute winner. That result ...

    Croatia star Rakitic ruled out of England Nations League clash

    Ivan Rakitic is out of Croatia's crunch Nations League clash with England, coach Zlatko Dalic has confirmed. Rakitic was substituted during the second half of Croatia's dramatic 3-2 victory at home to Spain on Thursday, with Tin Jedvaj hitting a 93rd-minute winner. That result set up a decider against England at Wembley on Sunday, but Rakitic will be unable to play due to his injury. "I asked for the change because I had discomfort," Rakitic said after the Spain win. Croatia will qualify for the finals of the inaugural Nations League if they beat England in a repeat of the World Cup semi-final, but will be relegated to League B if they lose. Dalic confirmed the injury news at Zagreb airport, with Barcelona midfielder Rakitic set to return to his club for treatment. "He will go to Barcelona because there is an injury," Dalic told reporters. "You know my practice not to risk [players] if there is anything suspicious. "We want healthy and ready players, Ivan Rakitic at the moment is not one hundred per cent ready for the game so unfortunately we go without him. "We've got [Nikola] Vlasic, [Mateo] Kovacic, [Josip] Brekalo, we have [Milan] Badelj, we always have solutions. We'll look for another solution and that will be fine, I hope." Rakitic's injury is also bad news for Barcelona, although he is unavailable for their next LaLiga game, away to title rivals Atletico Madrid a week on Saturday. He was sent off in Barca's last match, a 4-3 reverse at home to Real Betis, so he will be serving a suspension.

  • 'Don't talk to me about VAR!' – Rakitic ...

    Ivan Rakitic feels Croatia were the better side in the World Cup final and thinks decisions made by VAR favoured eventual winners France. Croatia went down 4-2 in Moscow in July, with Antoine Griezmann giving France a half-time lead from a penalty awarded following a video revie...

    'Don't talk to me about VAR!' – Rakitic still smarting over World Cup final loss

    Ivan Rakitic feels Croatia were the better side in the World Cup final and thinks decisions made by VAR favoured eventual winners France. Croatia went down 4-2 in Moscow in July, with Antoine Griezmann giving France a half-time lead from a penalty awarded following a video review, after a Mario Mandzukic own goal had been cancelled out by Ivan Perisic. It was a goal that proved decisive, as Didier Deschamps' side went on to claim the trophy thanks to second-half strikes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, before Mandzukic pulled one back. The 2018 finals were the first to use VAR, which FIFA hailed as a success, despite some controversial incidents during the tournament. And Barcelona midfielder Rakitic believes France benefited from more than one fortunate decision in a match he feels Croatia controlled. "Don't talk to me about VAR; I've dreamed about it a thousand nights," he told The Guardian. "That was maybe our best game. For an hour we were better than them, far superior. You can see it in your opponents' faces sometimes and we could see that France didn't know how to stop us, how to control us, how to get out, to attack. "In that final, the footballing god was French. The first goal comes from a free-kick that's not a foul and VAR could have intervened because Pogba was offside. "Then VAR didn't get the penalty wrong exactly but if he hadn't given it there wouldn't have been many complaints. If there's a penalty, I see it once and I know; I don't need to see it 10 times. "Anything that improves football is welcome but with VAR, play stops, football loses that 'something'. You score and can't celebrate, you wait to see if the referee's finger's in his ear or he is [gesturing for the television replay]." Rakitic accepts it has been difficult to move on from Croatia's defeat despite them having reached the final for the first time, their success rewarded by captain Luka Modric winning the tournament's Golden Ball and The Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2018, while Zlatko Dalic was nominated for the coaching prize.  "You go over and over it, especially the first night," he continued. "You say to yourself, to each other: 'You were the better team, you created chances, France weren't comfortable'.  "There are those goals, then Pogba shoots, and it bounces back to him for another shot. Mbappe’s going at 50kph and scores – we're caught on the attack, wrong-footed. Little things didn't go for us. But we played a great, great game and our heads never dropped despite losing for some time.  "You think: 'Bloody hell, we did everything to win'. And then a combination of having it taken away from you and them winning it, and... pffff... it doesn't feel right. But that's football. The best team doesn't always win; the team that gives the most isn't always rewarded.  "And I don’t know if I'll make it to the next World Cup. To have come so close and not to have won it, and like that. You congratulate France, who deserved to be champions, but we could have been deserving winners."

  • Barcelona claim no Liverpool offer for D...

    Barcelona have sought to quash talk of Ousmane Dembele moving to Liverpool, with the Liga giants having no offers on the table. The Blaugrana moved to land the 21-year-old winger in the summer of 2017, with €105 million (£93m/$120m) of the record-breaking fee received for Neymar...

    Barcelona claim no Liverpool offer for Dembele as they stand by troubled winger

    Barcelona have sought to quash talk of Ousmane Dembele moving to Liverpool, with the Liga giants having no offers on the table. The Blaugrana moved to land the 21-year-old winger in the summer of 2017, with €105 million (£93m/$120m) of the record-breaking fee received for Neymar invested in the exciting France international. Dembele struggled to justify that fee amid form and fitness during his debut campaign, but did become a World Cup winner over the summer and has netted six times in 15 appearances this season. He is, however, reported to have tested Barcelona’s patience with breaches of club discipline, leading to him being dropped from Ernesto Valverde’s squad for a clash with Real Betis. A move elsewhere has been mooted amid the criticism, with Anfield considered to be one possible landing spot after Goal revealed that a January switch will be considered, but those at Camp Nou insist no transfer talks have been held. General manager Pep Segura told Cadena Ser: “If you have information from the English press, ask the English press. If you have information about Liverpool, ask Liverpool.  “As of today we have nothing for Dembele and we have no desire to change the structure of the template. “It is true that I had a meeting with Dembele's agents. But I had three meetings with three other representatives. My job is to meet with representatives, they are common things.” Barcelona are prepared to stand by Dembele and help him to fully adjust to the demands being placed on him under the brightest of spotlight. Segura added of the former Rennes and Borussia Dortmund winger: “There is no problem with Dembele.  “It is a normal situation for a young player who has a lot of talent and has reached a very big club like Barca, with great players and teammates. He has never had this before and this generates a process of adaptation that has to happen.  “He is very young and has never had to make the effort to adapt to this way of playing and we recognise that it is costing him. He also recognises it.  “What we will do is work so that this adaptation is possible.”

  • Neymar not a target for Barcelona but do...

    Neymar is not a transfer option “on the table at the moment” for Barcelona, claims general manager Pep Segura, but a return to Camp Nou is not being ruled out. The Brazil international made 186 appearances for the Blaugrana, netting 105 goals, prior to making a record-breaking m...

    Neymar not a target for Barcelona but door kept open for Camp Nou return

    Neymar is not a transfer option “on the table at the moment” for Barcelona, claims general manager Pep Segura, but a return to Camp Nou is not being ruled out. The Brazil international made 186 appearances for the Blaugrana, netting 105 goals, prior to making a record-breaking move to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017. A second spell in La Liga has been mooted since he departed Catalunya, with Real Madrid being heavily linked with a player who once graced the books of their fiercest rivals. Talk of a potential retracing of his steps to Barcelona has also been discussed, but that is not an option set to be explored any time soon. Segura told Cadena Ser of the Neymar rumours: “Neymar is a player who is not on the table at the moment. “I have already said that no young player that leaves for money will return. We stand by that. But the circumstances with Neymar are totally different. “We always must evaluate the circumstances of the market and assess what the best moves for us will be in relation to those.” Neymar has enjoyed a productive spell in France, finding the target 41 times in 46 outings while helping PSG to a domestic treble in his debut campaign. He is not the only former Barca star to be impressing elsewhere, though, or the only one to be sparking speculation regarding a possible return. Thiago Alcantara is a product of the famed La Masia academy system but headed to Bayern Munich in 2013 amid fierce competition for first-team places. The 27-year-old Spain international has emerged as another mooted target for Barca, and Segura will not be shutting that transfer door either. He added: “Thiago Alcantara? He left us as a professional footballer, so he enters the same parameters as Neymar and he could also return if that is what is requested.” Barca have been busy in recent windows acquiring attacking talent, such as Malcom, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, but further moves could be made to land proven performers if the opportunity presents itself.

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