This is an excerpt from Rakitić’s interview in the official 2023 UEFA Super Cup programme. For the full version of this and more player and coach interviews, get your copy here
I think we were a bit more clear-headed and confident than them. Although we went behind, we still said to ourselves, “Be calm, we have them where we want them.” And although our goal was an own goal, the equaliser was a matter of time, because we were playing well and just had to wait for one mistake and react. Then we tried to win it within the 90 minutes, and even in extra time we were the ones looking for the win. The fact that it ultimately went to penalties was yet another great example of what our amazing keeper is capable of. In the end, I think we were deserved champions.
Penalties have nothing to do with luck. It’s yet another skill that forms part of our game. You have to have the strength and mental fortitude to step up for one, and it’s up to the keeper to know what to do and how to make someone go the wrong way. That all forms part of a player’s skill set, and we have an unbelievable keeper. In the end, everything came together perfectly.
When I joined Sevilla, the club had won two UEFA Cups in 2006 and 2007. And I well remember that when we managed to clinch the club’s third – and my first – in 2013/14, there was a special kind of atmosphere. When we played league games they could be good or bad, but when there were games in the Europa League there was a different atmosphere.
He’s a very straightforward guy. When he came to the club he was full of energy and had a very clear idea of what he wanted from each of us. It hasn’t all been plain sailing because in the space of a few days we had to start competing, without him knowing the players at all, but I think it was important that he knew the league, the opponents and everything else.
Like I’ve always said, we all want to enjoy and play in the Champions League. A lot of things happened to us last season but we were delighted to win the Europa League and be back in the Champions League. These are the matches that everyone wants to play. No matter what team you play for, everyone loves those games.
When you play against the big teams, every detail counts: every pass, every throw-in and every corner. Every mistake is punished when you play against big teams, so we have to try to perform perfectly, even though it’s still early in the season.