Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic to miss Croatia World Cup qualifying
Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic will miss Croatia's World Cup qualifiers against Kosovo and Finland due to an Achilles tendon strain, Croatia coach Ante Cacic confirmed on Monday.
The team will also be without the services of Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren, who are also injured.
The 28-year-old Rakitic pulled out with an Achilles tendon strain while Modric has been ruled out for a month after undergoing knee surgery last week.
"We can't count on Rakitic. He has a problem with his Achilles tendon and that is why he didn't play yesterday for Barcelona," Cacic said. "In his place, I will call up Dinamo [Zagreb] captain Domagoj Antolic.
"Modric, Rakitic and Lovren are all out of the upcoming qualifiers but I have a pretty clear idea who will replace them in the starting lineup," Cacic said.
"The Achilles tendon strain forced Rakitic to miss Barcelona's 4-3 defeat at Celta Vigo on Sunday while Lovren has a groin injury, but neither of them require surgery.
"I believe in our players. I think our team is strong and in both players we will do what is necessary."
The Croatians, held to a 1-1 home draw by Turkey in their opening Group I match, travel to Kosovo on Thursday and visit the Finns on Sunday.
Cacic said that despite Croatia's woes, winning both matches is the only option.
"Some things are out of my hands but there will be no excuse if we don't win both games because we are a better-ranked team than both Kosovo and Finland," said the 63-year-old coach.
"The most important thing is that all our strikers are fit."
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