transfers | 2017-01-20
Ivan Rakitic: ‘I want to renew and stay in Barcelona for many years’
The coach and the players speak after the victory which broke the Anoeta curse
“Anoeta falls down” runs the cover of Sport, “Neymar’s drum silences Real Sociedad” is the header of El País whilst Mundo Deportivo claims: “Barça ends with the Anoeta curse”. The consensus is of relief about Barcelona finishing the unfortunate streak of results on the Basque field. The players felt it too, that burden taken off of their shoulders despite not displaying a “jogo bonito” but overcoming a rocky opposition, as Sergi Roberto said after the match: “We needed to win in this stadium. We knew that in the last encounter, they have been working a high pressure and we have looked for a more direct game and we have achieved exactly that. The goal comes after a long pass". The Barcelona right back continued: “We are in a very good dynamic, we have to keep winning the matches and displaying a good game style".
Busquets agreed with his teammate about the importance of beating Real sociedad on their own ground: “We had not won here for many years and we are pleased with the result. We have been very solid both in attack and defense. We have the second leg left and we know they’re a side with lots of quality”. The coach Luis Enrique won’t let either rest the players on their laurels: “That was the first step towards the semis but we know that the second part of the tie has yet to come. However, this win was especially encouraging because it came at a stadium that has traditionally been so difficult for us. For the second leg, this result is going to force them to come at us and try to score. That will make for a really attractive game.”
Lucho expressed that “the team worked really hard, with effort, attitude and concentration at all times. I’d highlight the solidity in defence of the entire team. We managed to keep almost all of the game in their half and that meant that our virtues shone through rather than those of Real Sociedad”. The Barça coach admitted that “Cillessen’s long kicks were a great way to deal with the high pressure they generated”.
The Dutch goalkeeper understands the strain that entails being a Barça goalie and how his long passes help surpass that first line of pressure: “A Barça keeper must know how to play with his feet”, he said to the press after the final whistle, “but I was already used to do just that with Ajax and the national squad. That’s the reason they signed me. Even so, I have to keep working to improve”.
One man on the spotlight this Thursday was Ivan Rakitic due to his subpar season so far and the circulating transfer rumors, linking him to a move to British lands. However, the Croat was unequivocal about his desire to remain in the Catalan club: “I want to renew [my contract] and stay in Barça for many years. Luis Enrique’s trust in me is the same as always, the optimum. I live to play football, the coach is the one who knows me best and what I have to do is to keep working to show him my worth”.
Barcelona will host Real Sociedad next Thursday for the second leg of the tie, with the strong purpose of making it to the Spanish Cup semi-finals and getting closer to another title.