Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has previewed Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Chelsea, identifying the Blues’ strengths, praising their midfield and singling out Belgian forward Eden Hazard as a key threat.
The Croatian revealed his excitement for the clash at Stamford Bridge as Barcelona, fresh from a ?2-0 La Liga win over Eibar on Saturday, bid to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition.
“At last this moment has finally arrived,” Rakitic told ?AS.
“We know that winning the league is the most important thing, and we’ve also got the Copa, but the motivation in the Champions League is different, it’s special. We want to continue making history and playing well. We have a great opportunity to show the whole world what we can do.”
Stopping Chelsea will not be easy but Rakitic says his side have analysed their opposition and insisted they will be fully prepared for the game.
He said: “
Rakitic added: “He’s probably Chelsea’s best player, so we’ll need to be fully prepared to try and stop him. He’s very quick and will cause us problems in one-on-one moves.”
Speaking on his side’s preparation, Rakitic cited Lionel Messi’s work in the gym as the Argentinian looks to improve on his poor record against Chelsea, having not scored in his previous eight games against the Blues.
“Messi looks very focused, he’s been working very hard,” said Rakitic. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him working out so much in the gym – you can really see the results.
“He’s been training flat out to be in top shape for some time and we need him.”