Croatia's Rakitic ready to take on Messi and Argentina

ShareClose Comments
The two Barcelona stars will go head-to-head in Group D, a meeting that the midfielder cannot wait for

Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic is relishing a World Cup showdown with Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.

Messi and Argentina were placed alongside Croatia, Nigeria and tournament debutants Iceland in a tough-looking Group D at Friday's draw in Moscow.

Argentina were beaten finalists when Germany triumphed at Brazil 2014, but they needed heroics from Messi, who scored a hat-trick in their final qualifier against Ecuador, to get to the finals this time around.

Rakitic is part of a celebrated Croatia generation who are likely to have their final collective shot at a major tournament in Russia.

"It's a tough group, it will be big fight," the 29-year-old told 24 sata.

"I believe we have the quality to go through. I am glad to play against my friends Messi and Mascherano.

"It is a World Cup and we have to face the best. I can't wait for the World Cup, especially against Argentina.

"Respect towards Argentina and Messi but it makes our motivation even bigger."

Rakitic's national coach Zlatko Dalic unsurprisingly took a more pragmatic view and conceded he would rather not be making plans for Messi.

"It could have been better and could have been worse," Dalic told HTV.

"Nigeria has a young team, very fast. I wanted to avoid those two or three best teams [like Argentina] but we have nothing to lose. They are favourites."

Iceland and Croatia were paired together in qualification, claiming a win apiece, and Dalic added: "Iceland, we know them well. I spoke to their coach [Heimir Hallgrimsson] and he said, 'Oh no, not you again'."

Next article:
Swirad praises Melaka's transformation under Elavarasan
Next article:
PKNP secures stay in the Super League
Next article:
Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Chelsea warn Madrid over Hazard
Next article:
Mumbai City FC's Davinder Singh the latest product to emerge from Punjab's ever-growing football factory
Next article:
Elephants edge Red Ants to heap pressure on Perak
Close

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Show more Accept