By 90Min
November 18, 2018

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has been ruled out of Croatia's crucial UEFA Nations League clash with England and returned to his club side, after suffering an injury during Thursday's 3-2 victory over Spain.

The upcoming match on Sunday afternoon will have a huge impact on the final standings of Group A4. Spain currently sit top of the table, but both England and Croatia are just two points behind, meaning all three teams are still in with a chance of winning the group. Croatia and England could also be relegated, meaning Sunday's match will certainly be an important one for both sides.

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Marca state that Rakitic was allowed to return to Barcelona to undergo further tests on the hamstring injury, with the club later confirming on their official website that Rakitic suffered a muscle strain.

There is no mention of a specific period on the sidelines for the Croatian, with the club instead stating that Rakitic's recovery speed will dictate his return date.

The news will likely be welcomed by many England fans, as Rakitic has developed into one of the world's finest creative midfielders in recent years. Alongside Real Madrid star Luka Modric, Rakitic was instrumental in guiding Croatia to the World Cup final during the summer, also helping them to a 2-1 victory over England in the semi-finals.

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Barcelona fans were already preparing for a period without Rakitic, as the 30-year-old will be suspended for Barcelona's upcoming clash with Atletico Madrid following his red card against Real Betis.

A likely target for Rakitic could be to return for Barcelona's Champions League tie with PSV Eindhoven on 28 November, but manager Ernesto Valverde will certainly be keen to avoid taking any unnecessary risks with the midfielder and could instead wait to reintroduce Rakitic shortly after, against Villarreal.

With Rakitic unavailable for Croatia, manager Zlatko Dalic could opt to replace him with Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who has impressed this season on loan from Real. Inter's Marcelo Brozovic and Lazio's Milan Badelj are also potential candidates to replace Rakitic in the heart of Croatia's midfield, but his absence will likely be hugely concerning for Croatia fans.

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