Rakitic speaking to the press on Monday morning / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

After training for the last time before entertaining Bayer Leverkusen in the second game of Champions League Group E, Ivan Rakitic told the press that he’s familiar enough with an opponent that he faced many times in the Bundesliga, and who have players that he has shared a squad with in the past. “We are all looking forward to the game at the Camp Nou” he said. “And we want to show the fans how much we are doing things as well as we possibly can.”

Tough opponent

“Bayer Leverkusen are a very strong team” he continued. “They are physically tough and play top quality football. They are sure to want to play their game and their match, so we are going to have to be careful. It’s the second game of the group stage and we want to win to send a message out to the people that we’re here. It’ll be a very difficult game and we’ll have to perform well in every aspect.”We are getting stronger and stronger and need to continue that way

Referring back to the Celta defeat, the Croatian added that “we have learned from the mistakes we made, but we are confident about what we have achieved so far. I think we’re getting stronger and stronger and we need to continue that way.”

Missing Messi

The one subject that came up time and time again this morning was the absence of Leo Messi. “Of course it will affect us” admitted Rakitic. "But it also motivates us. We want to win these games for him, to cheer him up and boost him to recover as soon as possible. A new door has opened and we have to group together to take on this new challenge. Leo is very important to us, he alone can change so many things, but we know what we have to do and although it hurts to have lost the best player in the world, the team is still feeling very, very confident.”

But Rakitic ended by insisting that the absence of the Argentinian does not mean in the slightest that they’ll need to adjust the way they play. "The idea will not change” he stressed. “We have players that can continue to do the same job. We have a tight-knit squad and we’ll all be putting in 100 per cent.”

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