Ivan Rakitic’s oppression has taken its toll on Barcelona and Croatia

Nov 18, 2018, 02:18
Ivan Rakitic’s oppression has taken its toll on Barcelona and Croatia

England manager Gareth Southgate has told his team not to worry about permutations of the Nations League ahead of Sunday's decider with Croatia.

Spain coach Luis Enrique said football had been unfair to his side after Thursday's dramatic 3-2 defeat in Croatia left them in danger of failing to reach the UEFA Nations League finals.

Ivan Rakitic has been sent back to Barcelona after suffering a hamstring in the second half of the win over Spain - so Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic is set to come into the line-up.

This has certainly been a year to cherish for England, who reached the World Cup semi-finals for just the third time and are reaping the rewards of Southgate's trust in youth.

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Croatia's victory over Spain on Thursday night - while England were bidding farewell to Wayne Rooney with a 3-0 win over US - means that just two points separate the three teams with only Sunday's match remaining.

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"The most important thing for us was not to let them play out [from defence] comfortably", he added.

Who do you think should replace the Croatian at Barcelona if he misses their matches? So it's not that we wanted to show any disrespect to England but it is just in that moment all Croatians wanted to embrace all other Croatians!

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"Whenever there is a line of three central defenders, the one in the middle is the focal point".

"We also knew that Stones, after various years with Pep Guardiola, knew how to do that job very well".

"We've had a slight change of system which has also added something different, so we've got some flexibility in how we can play".

"A lot of people said we wouldn't be able to take another extra-time but we played our best extra-time of the tournament". That's why there was a little bit of a comedown.

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