Rakitic Wary of Spanish Midfield Duo
Ivan Rakitic believes he will come up against the two best midfielders in the world on Monday when Croatia face Spain in their final Group C game of the Euro 2012.
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The Sevilla midfielder already has experience of playing against Andres Iniesta and Xavi this season in the Primera Division.
And Rakitic has warned his national team-mates they cannot allow the Barcelona duo time to dictate the play if Croatia are to secure qualification to the quarter-finals.
"Who is the most dangerous of the two? It is difficult to say because they are the two best midfielders in the world," he told AS.
"If the two weren't together it would be better, but even if one fails there is still the other one.
"We have stop them somehow but it will be difficult."
Rakitic was part of a Sevilla side which had a measure of success against Barca last season, when they held the Catalans to a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp.
And he believes the same gameplan of clogging the midfield is the best way to achieve a positive result.
"We have to close the centre of the pitch," said Rakitic. "The ball can't arrive easily in this zone.
"We are ready for this. We have prepared well before the Euros and we will be ready to face Spain."
A 2-2 or higher scoring draw would though be enough to send both sides through no matter what happens in the other match in the group between Italy and the Republic of Ireland.
However, Everton striker Nikica Jelavic insists Croatia will still try to win the game and possibly eliminate the world champions in the process.
"The key will be to take advantage of our opportunities," said Jelavic.
"We are going to play like it was any other game, we are going to win without making calculations of what is happening elsewhere.
"For me before the competition started the favourites were the Spanish and the Germans. It is now the moment to throw one of those out of the competition.
"They are first-class players and I am happy to be able to play against them to see what level I am at. It will be a difficult match but we have a great chance."