Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has withdrawn from the Croatia squad with an Achilles tendon injury that is expected to see him sidelined for 10 days. The news is a big blow for manager Ante Cacic ahead of forthcoming World Cup qualifiers with Kosovo and Finland, having already lost Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren and Real Madrid star Luka Modric to injury.
Rakitic, along with Andres Iniesta, was dropped to the Barcelona bench by Luis Enrique during the 4-3 defeat to Celta Vigo on Sunday (2 October). The Croatian midfielder was surprisingly overlooked in the second half despite his team going 3-0 down.
Some immediately questioned Luis Enrique's decision, after the Catalans suffered their second league defeat of the season. However, it seems his hand may have been forced after it emerged Rakitic has been struggling with a tendon issue in recent days.
Cacic has therefore left been forced to call up Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Domagoj Antolić for the upcoming fixtures.
"Ivan Rakitić did not appear in Barcelona's away league match at Celta Vigo due to an Achilles tendon injury, which will keep him out from international duty with Croatia as well, away to Kosovo (6 October) and Finland (9 October). Rakitić's recovery is expected in ten days," the Croatian national team confirmed through an official statement.
The Barcelona midfielder is rated as doubtful for the match with Deportivo la Coruna on 15 October, which comes just four days before the Champions League encounter with Manchester City.
The injury is a particular frustration for Croatia, as the Barcelona star joins key players like Lovren and Modric on the absentee list. The Liverpool defender picked up a groin injury in the final minutes of his side's win over Swansea City. Jurgen Klopp confirmed the news in a post-match interview, but neither Liverpool nor Croatia have reported the severity of the issue.
Meanwhile, the Real Madrid star missed the La Liga draw between his side and Eibar on Sunday due to a knee injury that is expected to keep him on the sidelines for at least one month. HNK Rijeka defender Matej Mitrović and Napoli midfielder Marko Rog have been called up to replace the pair.