By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic
agrees with former Croatia great Robert Prosinecki, that his
team-mate Luka Modric could be the best Croatian player of all
Modric and Rakitic
will line up against Denmark in the last 16 of the World Cup on
Sunday after guiding Croatia to a 100 percent start to the
tournament, winning all three of their matches in Group D thanks
to their stylish midfield play.
Prosinecki to say Modric was the best Croatian player ever and
Rakitic added his voice in support. “I totally agree, but Luka
isn’t just a great player, he’s a great person. He is our leader
and we have a lot of confidence in him. It is always a challenge
when we face each other in Spain and I am delighted we play
alongside each other for Croatia,” Rakitic said in a press
Only three sides
(Croatia, Uruguay and Belgium) go into the knockout stage with a
100 percent record, but Rakitic insisted that that means nothing
“Denmark are a very
solid side and they haven’t lost any of their matches here. They
are compact and they know what to do to stop their rivals
playing. Then they are quick and dangerous in attack,” he
warned, highlighting the talents of Danish midfielder Christian
Eriksen. “He is one of the best creative players in Europe and
he has been excellent,” Rakitic said.
He also spoke about
the Croatia side that finished third in the 1998 World Cup,
saying players such as Prosinecki and Davor Suker were “idols”
but he added that the current side “wants to make their own
history” in Russia. “I hope we can do as well as they did, or
even better,” the Barcelona midfielder said.
Neymar to regain peak form at World Cup
ROSCHINO Russia (Xinhua) --
Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic believes Brazil
talisman Neymar is on the verge of recapturing his best form
after an inauspicious start to the World Cup in Russia.
Neymar has scored
just once in Brazil’s first three matches: a stoppage-time
strike in a 2-0 win over Costa Rica.
missed three months with a fractured bone in his foot before the
tournament and Rakitic believes his former Barcelona teammate is
improving every day. “He is among the best in the world and he
is getting better during this tournament,” Rakitic told a press
“You can tell he is
thinking less and less about the injury and I am sure we are all
going to enjoy his football during this tournament.” In addition
to his lacklustre form, Neymar has been accused by sections of
Brazil’s media of “playing for himself” and of seeking attention
by crying on the pitch after the match against Costa Rica.
Rakitic defended Neymar and said the Paris Saint-Germain forward
should not change the way he plays to please critics. “Neymar is
among my favourite players in the world,” he said.
“I would always want
to have him in my team. He has a special way of playing which
doesn’t necessarily suit everybody, but that’s him. That’s his
style and he is enjoying playing football, so he takes a lot of
Croatia will meet
Denmark in the round of 16 on Sunday after topping Group D with
three wins from as many matches. Victory against the Danes would
set up a potential quarterfinal against Spain, who Rakitic rates
as the World Cup favorites.
“To be honest, I see
Spain above everyone else,” he said. “I think they are the main
favourites of this tournament. It’s tough, they had three
difficult games in the group, [but] the confidence they are
playing with is one level above everyone else.
“I know them very
well, I wish them all the best. But hopefully the quarter-finals
will be enough for them. Then they are a little bit tired and
can use some rest, especially if they are playing against
Croatia,” he added.