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Ivan Rakitic speaks to the press after Friday's training session. / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

If there’s one thing we know about Ivan Rakitic, it’s that he’s loyal.

FC Barcelona’s blonde-haired, blue-eyed Croatian midfielder, who spoke to the media on Friday at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper ahead of Sunday’s Copa del Rey final versus his ex-team, was dealt a slew of hard questions about his personal relationships with friends and former teammates whose current objectives are unquestionably at odds with those of his present club.

First and foremost, Sunday’s final pits Barça against Rakitic’s old side, Sevilla FC, which, he admits, will eternally have a place in his heart.

“It’s always special,” he said, alluding to games against Sevilla, where he starred from 2011 to 2014. “But this time it’s even more special, because it’s a final.”

The midfielder doesn't hide the fact he has fond memories of his days at the Sánchez Pizjuán. Nevertheless, he made it clear Barça are his team now. And he’s going to give it his all in order to win this weekend.

Sevilla, of course, are coming off a win over Liverpool in the Europa League final on Wednesday night and can win a double themselves with a win on Sunday.

“They’ve won enough,” Rakitic joked. “They’ll have more chances for titles next season.”

“Now it’s our turn to win,” he said.

Rakitic was also asked if he would celebrate if he were to score a goal on Sunday.

“I wouldn’t,” he said. “Out of respect for the fans of Sevilla. On Wednesday I celebrated Sevilla winning but on Sunday I want to beat them."

“Finishing the season with the double would be brilliant," he said.

Here are the highlights of what he had to say:

On whether Sevilla will be helped or hampered by playing midweek:

"Winning the Europa League could be a boost for Sevilla. But the most important thing is to focus on ourselves."

On the greatest virtues of Luis Enrique:

“His hunger and ambition in every training session is what makes him such a great coach.”

"He gives you the freedom to be yourself.”

On how how he’s spending the days leading up to the game against his ex-teammates:

“I face-timed with José Antonio Reyes.”

“Other than that I am doing what I normally do.”

On the controversy surrounding the prohibition of Catalan flags at Sunday’s final:

“The Club has to do what they have to do and we are just focusing on playing football and bringing home the title to celebrate with the fans in Barcelona.”

On Sevilla’s propensity for second-half surges like the ones they had in the UEFA Super Cup match in August and in Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final:

“I prefer to talk about the things we need to do to play well on offense and on defence, so we can come out sharp and ready to win the game and the title.”

On whether not winning the double would mean failure for Barça this season:

“Getting to the final is worthy in of itself, but once you’re there you have to win it.”


Rakitic: "Rounding off the season with the... por fcbarcelona
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