One can hear a lot about Sergio Busquets. One reads a lot about Arturo Vidal. Frankie de Jong is the new sensation, while Arthur Melo is not given the respect he deserves in Camp Nou. Like Arthur, someone named Ivan Rakitic is a forgotten soul despite his silent contributions to the club since he joined.
He has been the main man in the midfield after the era of Xavi and Iniesta and glued the center of the park together so that it does not derail under pressure. But, the respect from the fans and club has never been that appreciative.
In a tight title race for the La Liga, Barcelona dished out another dull show against Athletic Bilbao. When the main focus is about individual glorification then it becomes tougher to achieve the desired results. Clubs like Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid don’t think this way. Neither do players like Rakitic thinks such. Raktic plays to win rather than hunting for individual glories.
Athletic Club tested the current la Liga holders – Marc-Andre ter Stegen almost caught out in the opening moments of the game when Unai Lopez’s snappy cross from a short corner on the left nearly arrowed into the far corner.
Ter Stegen just got there in time, but the goalkeeper was struggling midway through the first half when Yeray connected with Lopez’s teasing free-kick. Ter Stegen and Barca were thankful the defender sent his header over the bar.
The goals for Barcelona were not coming. Antoine Griezmann looked ineffective, Luis Suarez was dismal, while the midfield was heavily stagnant.
In the 64th minute Barcelona made double substitutions – Rakitic came in for Busquets and Ansu Fati came in for Griezmann.
In the 71st minute, the breakthrough came as Lionel Messi teased the ball through for the charging Rakitic to slam beyond Unai Simon. 1-0 Barcelona and a sigh of relief in the camp.
The match ended 1-0 with Barca taking the top spot again!
Obviously Rakitic was the Man of the Match and it was a fitting answer to those who portrayed him as “the symbol of a once-great team’s gradual but obvious decline. He is deemed sub-standard, too ponderous and pedestrian in possession”.
But Rakitic is someone, who believes in deeds rather than words.
He barely featured during the first half of the season under Ernesto Valverde and hasn’t always started for Quique Setien, who took over in January but never complained.
The moment came in last night and Rakitic proved, he has still a lot to offer!