Ivan Rakitic has stressed Barcelona are keen to beat Bayer Leverkusen in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter at Camp Nou to honour the injured Lionel Messi.
The Argentina international sustained a knee injury that will keep him out of action for seven to eight weeks in his side’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas at the weekend, but his team-mates have not forgotten about him.
“We want to win for Messi,” he said. “We will fight together. With Messi unavailable, the other players must step up.
“But this does not change anything. We are a united group and work together. We have a clear way of playing football.
“Things might be a little different due to Messi’s importance, but other players can fill in. That’s the situation. We cannot afford to feel sorry for ourselves.
“Suarez will not be more important because Messi is in the team or not. We have confidence in him. He scores a lot of goals and it makes a big difference for us to have Luis.
“He scores a lot of goals and also drops back in defence to help the team. I hope we will get the best out of him in the next few weeks.”
Rakitic realises that Leverkusen will not be pushovers, though, and has warned that Barcelona cannot afford to take the game lightly.
“I know Bayer Leverkusen pretty well,” he added. “They are a strong team. But we always go out to win and it is the same against Leverkusen.
“It will be a difficult game against an awkward opponent, Leverkusen are a very complete team. But we are high on confidence.”