Barcelona midfielder, Ivan Rakitic has admitted that former Las Palmas of Spain battler, Oghenekaro Etebo kept him in check during Saturday’s World Cup match between Croatia and Nigeria, because he could not play his normal free role.
Though Croatia went on to win the game 2-0 in Kaliningrad, Russia, Rakitic said he had to play from deep, instead of make advanced forages upfront, because he could not afford to let Etebo gain space to manoeuvre.
With a hint that he knew what Etebo was capable of, considering their clashes in La Liga, Rakitic recounted that he had to keep at bay the 22-year-old new signing at Stoke City of England.
Despite Rakitic’s sacrifice, Etebo still set a new history at the World Cup for the highest number of tackles in one game.
Etebo played as part of a three man midfield, with the duo of Eagles’ captain, John Mikel Obi and Wilfred Onyinyen Ndidi, but Rakitic singled the ex-CD Feirense of Portugal star out as the man he had to stifle during the game.
Rakitic said that was why he played deep and did not venture forward in his usual manner during the course of the game on Saturday.
“I had to keep the number 8 far away from our goal and that was only possible if I played a bit from the centre. It’s for the good of the team and at the end of it we got the result,” Rakitic recounted.