Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has told former club Sevilla to be content with winning the Europa League this season as he aims to triumph in Sunday’s Copa del Rey final.
Unai Emery’s side made history this week as they claimed Europe’s secondary competition for the third year in a row with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the final in Basle.
Sevilla now turn their attentions to facing holders Barca at the Vicente Calderon as they look to lift the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2010, when they beat Atletico Madrid in the final at Camp Nou.
But Rakitic, who says he will not celebrate if he scores a goal against the club he left in 2014, is determined to secure a second domestic double in a row with Barca.
“Of course I have a bit of my heart on the other side but I’m going to give it my all to get this title and give the fans something to cheer,” he said.
“I always wish for the best for Sevilla but they won a big title on Wednesday – that’s good enough for them. They’ll have another chance next season in the [UEFA] Super Cup, but for now they should understand that I’m doing what I have to do and battling 100 per cent to win this title for Barca.
“The most important thing is to think about what we have to do, not whether the other team is 100 per cent. We know Emery will have them prepared as always. We have to trust our ability and do as much as we can, because we need to worry about what we do.
“I won’t celebrate if I score. I respect them, part of my heart is reserved for them. I’ll celebrate the title with my friends and team-mates. The most important thing is that I want to win the title.”
Part of the build-up to the match has been dominated by a dispute over the display of Catalan flags at the match, with Barca having appealed a decision to ban them from the stands, but Rakitic says he and his team-mates will not become distracted by the issue.
“I understand that the club has to do what it has to do. I have to do it on the field and do everything to win the cup for the fans,” he said.
“I respect everyone’s opinion. We’ll do our thing – we’re excited to compete at the end of a long season. The most important thing for us is the football, bringing the title home and celebrating with the fans.”
Victory on Sunday would secure a seventh trophy since Luis Enrique replaced Gerardo Martino as head coach in 2014, and Rakitic says the former midfielder’s unrelenting ambition has been crucial to his success in the last two years.
“Luis Enrique is a complete coach. He doesn’t allow his players to have doubts, he always explains things in the game even though things go quickly,” added the Croatia star.
“The most important thing is that he gives you confidence. Managing a group like this at such a big club isn’t easy. He’s ambitious in every training session – I think that’s the most important thing.”