Ivan Rakitic returns to Croatia tomorrow evening with Sevilla. The Andalusian outfit will face Dinamo Zagreb in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 tie and travel with an advantage after winning the first leg at the Sanchez-Pizjuan 3-1 last week.
Rakitic took and scored the penalty that ensured Sevilla took an important lead that evening, a brave moment given he had recently missed a spot kick away to Osasuna that would have put them within inches of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.
The Croatian returned to Andalusian in the summer of 2020 after spending six trophy-laden seasons in Catalonia with Barcelona. He left Sevilla after spending four years there, arriving a fresh-faced 21-year-old and leaving as the club’s first foreign captain since Diego Maradona. He also met his wife in the city.
His Sevillismo is well known and it was often joked about at Barcelona according to Diario AS. He once told Gerard Pique: “pass it to me, miarma [a very Sevillano expression denoting affection],” and he stopped the ball before responding: “What I needed was for a Croatian to ask me for the ball like that”. He also revealed that Lionel Messi then sang Sevilla’s anthem.