Ivan Rakitić (Croatian pronunciation: [ǐʋan rǎkititɕ]; born 10 March 1988) is a Croatian professional footballer who plays as a central or attacking midfielder for Spanish club Barcelona and is also the vice-captain for the Croatia national team.
|Full name||Ivan Rakitić|
|Date of birth||10 March 1988|
|Place of birth||Rheinfelden, Switzerland|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 6 October 2019|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 23:28, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
Rakitić started his professional career at Basel and spent two seasons with them before he was signed by Schalke 04. After spending three-and-a-half seasons in the Bundesliga, he was signed by Sevilla in January 2011. Two years later, Rakitić was confirmed as the club captain and captained the team to UEFA Europa League triumph. In June 2014, Barcelona and Sevilla reached an agreement on the transfer of Rakitić. In his first season with Barça, he won the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League. He scored the first goal of the 2015 Champions League Final and became the first player ever to win the Champions League a year after winning the Europa League while playing for two clubs.
At the international level, Rakitić plays for the Croatia national team. Although naturally a product of Switzerland's youth level, Rakitić pledged his international career to his parents' country of Croatia instead. He made his debut for Croatia in 2007 and has since represented the country at UEFA Euro 2008, UEFA Euro 2012, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, winning a runners-up medal in the latter tournament, and earning over 100 caps.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Club career
- 3 International career
- 4 Style of play
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Career statistics
- 7 Honours
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Rakitić was born in Rheinfelden in the Swiss canton of Aargau to a Croatian family of Šokci origin. His father, Luka, and his family are originally from Sikirevci, while his mother's family are Bosnian Croats from Žepče. He grew up in Möhlin, canton of Aargau. He has a brother, Dejan. Rakitić has a tattoo bearing his brother's name on his right arm. Rakitić spent his childhood and early career in Switzerland. His father and older brother were also footballers. At age 16, he was noticed by top European scouts who acclaimed his young potential, although he and his family decided to stay in Basel to allow him to play more regularly in a smaller league instead.
After spending some short time in the youth teams, Rakitić went on to make his first-team debut for Basel on 29 September 2005 during the UEFA Cup away match at Široki Brijeg. He made his first Swiss Super League appearance on 15 April 2006 in Basel's away match against Neuchâtel Xamax. Although these two matches were the only ones he played during his first professional season with Basel, he went on to establish himself as a regular contributor in his second season, scoring 11 goals in 33 Super League appearances. Also making nine UEFA cup appearances during this time, he was named the best young player of the 2006–07 Super League season along with receiving the Swiss Goal of the Year award for an impressive goal he scored against St. Gallen on 22 October 2006.
After an impressive showing as a teenager, Rakitić was again acclaimed by large European clubs who expressed interest in his young ability. Subject to such, he was eventually signed by German side Schalke 04 on 22 June 2007, for €5 million.
Rakitić made his debut for Schalke on 21 July 2007 in the Premiere Ligapokal fixture against Karlsruher SC and eventually appeared in the remaining two matches as Schalke finished as league runners-up. On 5 August 2007, Rakitić scored his first competitive goal for his new club in their 0–9 away win over Eintracht Trier in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.
On 10 August 2007, the new Bundesliga season was commenced with a clash between champions VfB Stuttgart and Schalke. Rakitić came on as a second-half substitute and scored his first Bundesliga goal within just seven minutes on the field as his side played out a 2–2 draw. On 15 September 2007, he managed to make impressions again by scoring the only goal for Schalke in their 1–1 away draw at Bayern Munich. Three days later, Rakitić made his UEFA Champions League debut in the 0–1 home defeat to Valencia. He then went on to make a total of seven appearances in the 2007–08 Champions League season, including a strong and very impressive midfield role in Schalke's home fixture against Chelsea in the group stage. He and former teammate Mladen Krstajić were temporarily cut from the squad the night before Schalke's next fixture against Rosenborg due to being caught skipping training and taking part in a late-night partying. Helping his side prevail in the penalty shootout against Porto to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, Rakitić had to miss both the fixtures of such against Chelsea due to an ankle injury sustained in training. He was kept out of action for a month as Schalke were eliminated from the tournament without him.
Shortly upon his returning from injury, Rakitić discovered top form as he scored a goal and assisted another two in the vital 0–3 victory at VfL Bochum, which made sure Schalke finished at least third in league table and secured a place in the next Champions League. He continued such form in the next fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt, assisting Mladen Krstajić for the only goal of the match to conclude with Schalke a positive home season. In total, he finished his first Bundesliga season with 3 goals and 10 assists in 29 appearances. In the subsequent season, Rakitić played in Schalke's 3–0 victory over Hannover 96, assisting two goals in the opening Bundesliga fixture.
On 28 January 2011, Rakitić signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Spanish La Liga club Sevilla for a transfer fee of €2.5 million. Upon his arrival, Rakitić was immediately included in the starting XI of the team, making his debut on 6 February 2011 against Málaga. In next game, against Racing de Santander, he scored an own-goal but managed to get back on the track and scored his first goal for Sevilla in the match against Hércules in the next matchday. Due to a fractured foot, Rakitić was forced to miss the last four La Liga fixtures. He scored five goals in his first half-season with Sevilla in 2010–11, starting in all 13 matches after his arrival and before the foot injury.
During the 2011–12 season, Rakitić continued to be a first team regular and a key component of the squad. Due to managerial changes and new tactical schemes introduced by new coach Marcelino, who was later replaced by Míchel, Rakitić was given a different role on the pitch than the one he had the previous season, when he was used as central midfielder under coach Gregorio Manzano; during the course of the season, he was mostly deployed as a defensive midfielder. By the end of the season, he made total of 39 appearances for the club, provided six assists and scored one goal in the 2011–12 Copa del Rey. This turned out to be his only goalless Liga season while playing for Sevilla.
Rakitić began the 2012–13 La Liga season by providing an assist in the opening match against Getafe. On 12 September, he provided another assist for Piotr Trochowski at home in a 1–0 win over Real Madrid. He scored his first goal of the season on Matchday 5 against Deportivo de La Coruña. Rakitić scored two goals in the opening 20 minutes of the second Seville derby of the season against cross-city rivals Real Betis. This was his third goal of the season against Sevilla's city rivals, given the fact that he had also scored in the first Seville derby of the season, when Sevilla celebrated a 5–1 victory. During the match against Real Sociedad, Rakitić added two goals to his tally, however, the second one was an own goal, tying the match at 1–1 after he scored the first goal to give his club a 1–0 lead. Until the end of the season, he made total of 42 appearances for the club and scored 12 goals for the team, three coming in the Copa del Rey. He also finished the season providing ten league assists. Statistics showed that Rakitić created 100 chances in total, a sum ranking fourth across all players in Europe that season.
At the beginning of the 2013–14 La Liga season, coach Unai Emery named Rakitić as the new Sevilla captain. Since the beginning of the season, he was one of the most prominent players of the league, scoring the first goal and assisting for the second in a 3–2 away loss against Barcelona on 14 September. In the two last games of September, he scored two goals in a 1–4 away win over Rayo Vallecano, and assisted for the draw 1–1 goal against Real Sociedad. In the final three games of October, Rakitić scored a goal in a 2–0 home win against SC Freiburg, a 2–1 home win over Almería and two goals in a 7–3 loss at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium against Real Madrid. In the third and fourth games of November, he contributed an assist in away 1–3 win against Espanyol, and two more respectively in a 4–0 home win against Sevilla rivals Betis. In the last game of December, he assisted in a 1–2 away win against Villarreal, helping Sevilla reach a top ten position after a disappointing start of the season, as well attracting attention from other international clubs. In the first game of the 2014 calendar year, he scored in a 3–0 home win against Getafe. In January, he scored two more La Liga goals for Sevilla against Atlético Madrid and Levante, respectively, while also missing a penalty kick in the latter fixture. These performances earned him a La Liga Player of the Month award.
Rakitić's impressive form continued in the season, with several assists and goals from February to May, including two assists in the Europa League 2–2 away draw against Maribor, an assist in the 2–1 home win over Real Madrid and a goal against Porto in a 4–1 home win. He also assisted in the semi-final first leg 2–0 win over Valencia, which they won on aggregate (3–3), thus qualifying for the Europa League Final. He was man of the match as Sevilla won the Final 4–2 on penalties over Benfica at Juventus Stadium in Turin. He was the first player to captain a team to victory in the UEFA Europa League Final and also pick up the official man of the match award. He was included in the UEFA Europa League Team of the Season. By the Spanish national football league association, Rakitić was chosen in La Liga first XI in both first round, and team of the season. He finished the season scoring 15 goals, and recording 17 assists. At the season's LFP Awards, Rakitić won the Fair Play Award and was nominated for Best Midfielder, an award ultimately given to Barcelona's Andrés Iniesta.
On 16 June 2014, Barcelona signed Rakitić on a five-year contract effective 1 July. Upon his arrival, Rakitić was given the squad shirt number 4. He made his debut for the team in a pre-season friendly match against French club Nice on 2 August, when he came on as a second-half substitute for Sergi Roberto. During a pre-season friendly against HJK Helsinki, Rakitić provided his first assists for Barça, assisting twice in 6–0 victory. His official debut for Barcelona came on 24 August in the opening match of the new Liga season, against Elche. Just moments after half-time, Rakitić played a long ball over-top of Elche's defence towards forward Munir, who flicked the ball it into the far corner of the net to make it 2–0 for Barcelona.
Rakitić's first goal for Barcelona came from outside of the penalty area in a 0–5 away win against Levante on 21 September 2014. In the next week's game, against Granada, Rakitić headed in Lionel Messi's cross for his second goal of the season in a 6–0 victory at Camp Nou. On 18 March 2015, Rakitić scored the first Champions League goal of his career in a 1–0 win against English champions Manchester City in the round of 16 second leg at Camp Nou.
On 6 June 2015, Rakitić scored the opening goal in a 3–1 win against Italian champions Juventus in the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final at Berlin's Olympiastadion. This made Barcelona the first club in history to win the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and European Cup twice. Rakitić, for the second year in a row, was included in the La Liga and European (Champions League) team of the season.
On 11 August 2015, Rakitić played the full 120 minutes as Barcelona defeated his former club Sevilla 5–4 to win the 2015 UEFA Super Cup in Tbilisi. In October, he was announced Croatian Footballer of the Year 2015. As an 18th-minute substitute for Sergi Roberto, on 20 October he scored both goals from Neymar assists as Barcelona won 2–0 at BATE Borisov in the Champions League group stage. In December, he was named Croatian Sportsman of the Year 2015. On 30 April 2016, Rakitić scored the opener against Betis as Barcelona won 0–2 to stay top of the Liga table.
Rakitić's first international experience came at youth level with the Switzerland under-17, under-19 and under-21 national teams, but decided to accept the call-up by Croatia national team coach Slaven Bilić and play for the nation's senior team. He made his full international debut for Croatia on 8 September 2007 in their UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia in Zagreb, highly praised by the fans as he was entering the game as a substitute. In Croatia's following qualifier, a 0–6 away win over Andorra on 12 September 2007, he scored his first international goal for Croatia in only his second appearance for the team. He finished the year 2007 with five senior international caps to his name, four of which were in the successful Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.
In early May 2008, he joined Croatia's squad for the Euro 2008 tournament in Austria and Switzerland, where he was the second-youngest player in the tournament. He made his first appearance at the tournament as a starter against Germany, and eventually provided a shot which ricocheted off the post and allowed teammate Ivica Olić to score the second goal in their 2–1 victory. He formed a praised trio of Croatian attacking midfielders with his teammates Luka Modrić and Niko Kranjčar. Though playing a strong role against Turkey in the quarter-finals of the tournament, Rakitić went on to miss one of the three unsuccessful penalties in the shootout, thus leading to a victory for Turkey.
Rakitić continued to appear regularly for Croatia during their unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, making a total of ten appearances and scoring three goals in the competition. On 15 October 2008, he scored a brace in a 4–0 win at home to Andorra. On 5 September 2009, he scored the match-winning goal in a 1–0 win at home to Belarus. Croatia failed to qualify for the finals after finishing third in their group.
After appearing in all of their Euro 2012 qualifiers, he was selected to be part of the Croatian squad at the Euro finals in Poland and Ukraine. Croatia were drawn in Group C together with Spain, Italy and the Republic of Ireland. Rakitić started in all three of Croatia group stage matches. After two matches played, Croatia had four points and were facing defending champions Spain in Gdańsk. With the game goalless and entering the final half-hour, Rakitić burst into the Spanish penalty area but could not direct his header past goalkeeper Iker Casillas after being picked out by a wonderful Luka Modrić pass. It proved to be a costly miss, with Spain's Jesús Navas later scoring an 88th-minute winner to send the Croatians crashing out.
2014 World CupEdit
In the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, on 12 October 2012 Rakitić scored a goal from a free-kick against Macedonia at Philip II Arena to help secure a 1–2 victory for Croatia. Eventually, after the playoffs, the team qualified for the World Cup final stages. They were drawn into Group A alongside Brazil, Mexico and Cameroon. Croatia played the opening match against Brazil, which they lost 3–1. In the second match, Croatia won 4–0 against Cameroon, but did not progress as they lost 1–3 against Mexico, with Rakitić providing the assist for the only Croatian goal.
Rakitić scored his first and only goal in the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Bulgaria. He was selected to be part of the Croatian squad at Euro in France. Croatia were drawn in Group D along with Spain, Czech Republic and Turkey. Rakitić started Croatia's opening game where they secured a narrow victory by one goal against Turkey. On 17 June 2016, Rakitić scored a goal to double Croatia's lead against the Czech Republic, but later the game was turned around when the play was halted briefly after Croatian fans threw flares onto the pitch. Shortly after the restart, the referee rewarded Czech Republic a penalty and the game ended in a 2–2 draw.
After a 2–1 win over defending champions Spain, Croatia topped Group D and went on to face Portugal in the next round. Croatia, however, lost 1–0 after Portugal's Ricardo Quaresma scored a 117th-minute, extra-time winner to send Croatia out of the tournament. Rakitić later stated that "Croatia did not deserve to go out and the best team were going home". Rakitić appeared in all of Croatia's matches and ended the tournament by scoring one goal.
2018 World CupEdit
On 4 June 2018, Rakitić was named in Croatia's 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. On 21 June 2018, Rakitić scored Croatia's third goal in a 3–0 victory over Argentina in their second group stage match of the tournament.
On 1 July, Rakitić scored the winning penalty kick in the penalty shoot-out against Denmark, as Croatia progressed to the quarter-final. One week later, on 7 July, Rakitić again scored the winning penalty kick in the penalty shoot-out against Russia, as Croatia progressed to the semi-final. Croatia reached the final of the tournament, where they were defeated 4–2 by France on 15 July.
Style of playEdit
A talented and hard-working midifelder, Rakitić is known in the media as a well-rounded playmaker, with good stamina and defensive skills, as well as excellent technique, close control, vision, and passing, which enables him to dictate play in midfield and create chances for teammates after winning back possession, despite his lack of pace. As such, he is capable of both breaking down opposing plays and subsequently transitioning the ball forward to start attacks; he is also capable of scoring goals himself, courtesy of his striking ability from distance, as well as his ability to find and exploit spaces with his movement off the ball and make attacking runs into the box. A versatile player, he is capable of playing in several midfield positions, and has been deployed as a winger on either side of the pitch, as a central midfielder, as an attacking midfielder, as a defensive midfielder, in a box-to-box role, or even as a deep-lying playmaker. In 2019, in an interview with BeIN Sports, manager José Mourinho described Rakitić as "one of the most underrated players in the world." He later added: "He is fantastic on all levels; he defends, he compensates for [Lionel] Messi, he runs and he's sensible with the ball at his feet."
- Appearances in UEFA Cup
- Appearances in UEFA Champions League
- Appearances in DFL-Ligapokal
- Two appearances in UEFA Champions League and five appearances and one goal in UEFA Cup
- Appearances in DFL-Supercup
- Appearances in UEFA Europa League
- Two appearances in Supercopa de España, one appearance in UEFA Super Cup, two appearances in FIFA Club World Cup
- Appearances in Supercopa de España
- As of 13 October 2019
- Croatia score listed first, score column indicates score after each Rakitić goal.
|Ivan Rakitić – goals for Croatia|
|1.||12 September 2007||Estadi Comunal, Andorra la Vella, Andorra||Andorra||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|2.||20 August 2008||Ljudski vrt, Maribor, Slovenia||Slovenia||Friendly|
|4.||15 October 2008||Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia||Andorra||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|6.||11 February 2009||Stadionul Steaua, Bucharest, Romania||Romania||Friendly|
|7.||5 September 2009||Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia||Belarus||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|8.||23 May 2010||Stadion Gradski vrt, Osijek, Croatia||Wales||Friendly|
|9.||12 October 2012||Philip II Arena, Skopje, Macedonia||North Macedonia||2014 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|10.||10 October 2015||Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia||Bulgaria||UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying|
|11.||4 June 2016||Stadion Rujevica, Rijeka, Croatia||San Marino||Friendly|
|12.||17 June 2016||Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne, France||Czech Republic||UEFA Euro 2016|
|13.||5 September 2016||Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia||Turkey||2018 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|14.||27 March 2018||AT&T Stadium, Arlington, United States||Mexico||Friendly|
|15.||21 June 2018||Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia||Argentina||2018 FIFA World Cup|
- La Liga: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19
- Copa del Rey: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18
- Supercopa de España: 2016, 2018
- UEFA Champions League: 2014–15
- UEFA Super Cup: 2015
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2015
- Swiss Super League Young Player of the Year: 2006–07
- Swiss Super League Goal of the Season: 2006–07
- BBVA Fair Play award: 2013–14
- La Liga Player of the Month: January 2014
- UEFA Europa League Final Man of the Match: 2014
- La Liga Team of the Season: 2013–14, 2014–15
- UEFA La Liga Team of The Season: 2018-19
- UEFA Europa League Team of the Season: 2013–14
- UEFA Champions League Team of the Season: 2014–15
- Croatian Footballer of the Year: 2015
- Croatian Sportsman of the Year: 2015
- FIFA FIFPro World11 3rd team: 2018
- FIFA FIFPro World11 4th team: 2016
- FIFA FIFPro World11 5th team: 2015
- FIFA FIFPro World11 nominee: 2019 (10th midfielder)
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