FIFA WC 2018: Ivan Rakitic is the heartbeat of Team Croatia
When Rakitic was young, he started playing for FC Basel and Switzerland. But it took him some time to decide on a future with the Croats and when he ultimately decided in favour of Croatia, his father, Luka, cried in joy
Living in the shadow of two LM10s - Lionel Messi in FC Barcelona and Luka Modric in Croatia - life is cruel for Ivan Rakitic! His father is a namesake of his Croatia captain - Luka. When Rakitic was young, he started playing for FC Basel and Switzerland. But it took him some time to decide on a future with the Croats and when he ultimately decided in favour of Croatia, his father, Luka, cried in joy.
When his last penalty had beaten Igor Akinfeev in the quarter-final to take Croatia to the semi-finals and emulate history, Luka Modric cried in joy. They represent the two eternal rivals in club matches - FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. But nothing can affect their friendship when they fight it out for Croatia in Red-and-White checks.
However, it is always Modric who gets all the credits, while Rakitic has been the silent warrior for his captain. It is reported that when the tie-breaker started against Denmark, Rakitic told his teammates to do it for Modric, who had missed a penalty in the match. They did, and he sealed it with the final shot.
A cool and calm customer, Rakitic has learned to be so. He plays alongside Sergio Busquets and behind Messi in Barcelona. He scores important goals, like the one in the fourth minute against Juventus in the 2015 final which put his team in the driver's seat and they went on to win the competition. Rakitic has said previously that he enjoyed running 10 kms to help MNS - Messi, Neymar, Suarez.
Rakitic is the ideal soldier, a devoted teammate and a universal adaptor to any situation and place in the middle of a football pitch. A holding midfielder, an attacking midfielder, a box-to-box player - ask him to do anything and he is ready to deliver. He may be one of the most under-rated member of his side, but he remains the heartbeat of whichever team he plays for - Barcelona or Croatia.
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From Neymar's antics to Croatian courage: FIFA WC 2018 Highlights