Ivan Rakitić is very happy in his Sevilla. He attended the club media in Budapest, the day before the UEFA Super Cup final: 'I'm really happy. I feel a lot of pride to represent Sevilla in a final again, I know what it means. The nerves are coming, slowly but surely, but I'm feeling positive and I'm excited to play the final. I don't think we need to change too many things, despite the difficulty of playing against Bayern. Finals are played to be won and that's what we are going to try to do.'
RAKITIC: 'IT'S A GREAT DEAL OF PRIDE TO REPRESENT SEVILLA IN A FINAL AGAIN'
Bayern will be a tough nut to crack: 'They have shown their ability and we congratulate them for winning the Champions League, but tomorrow is another game and I'm sure they are thinking about how to deal with us because we have earned the respect of Europe. We will do everything to play our best game and we know anything is possible, we will make life difficult for them and fight for the trophy.
He said that the positivity from Cologne is still alive and well: 'We're feeling good and switched on. We have been training well and there's a great atmosphere. You can tell the energy from the Europa League win is still here and there's a great group here. You can see the hard work put in and I believe we are fully ready to compete.'
'We have been training well and the team is ready to compete'
Six years on, Rakitić sees many changes: 'The club has grown a lot and made a step towards the next level. I see a lot of changes and things are more promising than when I first arrived here. That makes me very happy and excited to keep moving forward because big things are ahead of us. That's the desire the club has been showing me, that desire to keep competing. It's good there was such a short break because we have been able to maintain the positivity of the end of last season which we can use moving forward.'
Ivan already knows what it's like to lift a trophy for Sevilla. It's an experience he wishes to repeat: 'It's incredible. It's impossible to describe in words. The mix of excitement, desire, nerves... It's an interesting mix. Then to see all your people with the same happiness is incredible and I hope we can do it again. I know exactly what it's like and just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. It's something special and I hope we can all experience it again and enjoy it together.'
'Winning a trophy with Sevilla is impossible to describe in words'
There's little more to learn about Bayern this close to kick-off: 'It's one of the few teams who have managed to take that final step in the last years. They are incredibly competitive and they have an excellent squad. Their manager hasn't been there for too long but he knows them perfectly and you can see they take on board everything he says. They have a good mix of experienced players and youngsters. Upfront they can decide games on their own and we obviously respect them a lot, but we aren't afraid. I want to enjoy the experience of playing against the best team in Europe and make them suffer.'
Sevilla FC is now amongst the elite and the dressing room is closer than ever: 'The atmosphere, the way in which everyone is so together, you don't see that too much at the highest level. It's a friendly atmosphere, but also extremely ambitious. It reminds me a lot of the team from 2014 and I hope we can keep progressing. We can give more, work on some points, and we're going to work hard to achieve this. I want the squad to know I'm always available for them and that together we can build a true force. I want to use my experience to help the team, to give them more confidence and I'm delighted to be here. I've been trying to get to know everyone, I've already met some players before like Munir and Escudero and I also speak a lot with Gudelj because Croatian and Serbian are similar languages. I get on really well with Jesús and I've also chatted with Ocampos and Mudo. It's a united team, it's like a family.'
'I want the exact same as everyone here - the best for Sevilla'
Rakitić has already sat down with Lopetegui: 'We have spoken a bit although there hasn't been much time. These days have went by quickly but we have went over some things and I think the coach is getting to know me better everyday, just like I'm getting to know him. I'm grateful to him and his staff for the reception they've given me. I told Monchi before the Europa League final that with the energy the staff have, they're sure to win the trophy. The staff transmit that energy to the subs who are also jumping up and shouting. Sevilla has beaten teams with far bigger budgets. Given the unity and humility here it doesn't surprise me, but I congratulate them for their work.'
Rakitić also went over his decision to retire from international duty: 'It's maybe the hardest decision of my career. No player ever wants this day to come, but after 13 years, 106 games and Russia, I think this is the right moment. I'm so thankful for how they've treated me, but I think now is the right moment to fully focus on my club team and support the national team from home, they know I'm their biggest fan.'