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Former Barcelona midfield icon talks Xavi, Cubarsi, Ter Stegen, Gavi, PSG win



Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

A recent inductee to Barcelona’s legends list, Ivan Rakitic helped Barcelona greatly during his six years at the club.

Rakitic played 310 matches for Barça and won an impressive 16 titles with the Catalan giants, chiming in with his fair share of iconic strikes on big occasions as well.

Rakitic departed the club back in 2020 to join his former club Sevilla before the Croatian took his talents to the Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab recently.

Now speaking to Jijantes (h/t SPORT), he has touched upon a variety of topics related to FC Barcelona.

Thoughts on Barcelona’s victory against PSG

The Blaugranes overcame PSG with a 3-2 scoreline and showcased several encouraging signs, both on an individual and collective level.

Acknowledging that he was impressed with how well Barcelona fought and competed, Rakitic stated:

“It was a boost for Barça. We were all left with our mouths open and wanting more, not just because of the result, but because of the way they competed and how they played the game.”

“I hope it’s the first step of everything that has to come, it was a very important victory,” he added.

A trip down memory lane

Rakitic was a part of the Barcelona team that infamously conquered PSG with a 6-1 win at Camp Nou, with the team trailing by four goals after the first leg.

The Croatian admitted that the win stands out as one of the most monumental feats in Champions League history.

“Those moments, since everything happens very quickly, you remember them after a while. Everyone talks about the titles you won, but it is those games that really remain in the memory.

“If there was a team capable of doing it, it was us. It was a crazy day, one of the biggest games in the history of the Champions League,” the midfielder said.

He added that the team became complacent down the line because of the superiority they showcased over the years.

“What happened to us later is not surprising. We came to feel too superior. We gave away games, and it cost us titles. Now, years later, we would all like to give it back and we would surely have two or three more Champions Leagues,” Rakitic remarked.

Praise for the youth

Barcelona’s young gems have taken the season by storm, imposing their influence on the biggest of occasions, as testified in the recent clash against PSG.

Rakitic gave Pau Cubarsi his roses but professed that expectations must remain reasonable with such young players.

“Cubarsi, like all the others who come in and play important games. I’m not surprised that he’s part of the national team. In football there are no ages, you’re ready or not,” he said.

Cubarsi Barcelona
Cubarsi earning praise from Rakitic. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

“But I do think that we shouldn’t put it into their heads that they have ‘I have to be MVP in every game’ or stop this player or another.”

“Let them enjoy, let them learn, let them grow, let them move forward. That’s what the coach, Xavi, is for, who understands better than anyone what is best for them,” Rakitic added.

Summing up Xavi’s Barcelona

Rakitic was initially signed as Xavi’s replacement and did well to phase him out of the squad. Now, watching him as a coach, he only has words of appraisal for the Barcelona legend.

“Barça is unique, special. There is a football intelligence, which is not knowing how to add or subtract. It is knowing how to understand it, and once you get it, there is no better place to enjoy it,” he mentioned.

“Ter Stegen is crazy. He’s crazy, he’s at an incredible level. Not only because of what he stops.

“We also all miss Gavi, seeing him with Pedri, with the magic of Frenkie and Gündogan… Let them keep coming in young people, let them learn. I wish my friend Xavi the best, may he do wonderfully. I will always follow Barça and wish him the best,” Rakitic commented.

He sympathized with Xavi’s decision to part ways with the club but affirmed that there is no man better to handle the reins at the club.

Barcelona are constantly making efforts to ensure his continuity, which could see him reverse his decision eventually.

“It is his decision, but there is no person in general who can understand Barça more or better than Xavi.

“He took the team in at a very delicate moment, with many changes, with a context that is not easy at all and does not help either the club or the coach. And Xavi has been able to take it forward,” Rakitic remarked.

Reopening past wounds

While Rakitic was involved in some historic moments at the club, he was also subject to some bitter defeats, especially in the Champions League, where the Catalan giants appeared incapable of holding leads.

Bringing up the fateful night in Rome, Rakitic took accountability and claimed the team underachieved due to their dwindling concentration.

“The worst was the one in Rome, because we gave it away. Without taking credit away from the rival and congratulating them for the game they played, but we gave it away. When you’re not really involved, it can happen to you. And it was our fault,” he confessed.

However, the 36-year-old recognized that the time to make amends is long gone and the repeat button cannot be pressed.

“We would do it differently if we could go back in time. Without making changes, just being really into it forever. Because you can’t hit the repeat button.

“Football is the moment, it’s the now. I think we did a lot of spectacular things, but I feel sorry for us, because I think we were one of the best generations football has ever seen and we could have got a lot more out of it,” Rakitic exclaimed.

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