Borna Barisic reveals Rangers back Croatia as Ibrox success inspires Euro bid
Attention has shifted to Borna Barisic. As he strives for international success, his success with his club is his inspiration this summer.
A back injury may have interrupted Barisic’s preparations from a physical standpoint in recent weeks, but he couldn’t be in a better mental position than he is now.
An undefeated Premiership campaign last season earned Rangers a historic league title and Barisic the first medal of his career at Ibrox as Celtic were ultimately defeated and Steven Gerrard’s side reigned supreme in Scotland .
The challenge for Barisic is now very different. Spain are waiting Monday night for Croatia – World Cup finalists beaten three years ago – to try to take the next step on the road they hope to take to Wembley next month.
The 28-year-old is expected to witness the loss to England and draw with the Czech Republic from the stands following the blow that reduced his involvement with Zlatko Dalic’s side earlier this month.
A return to action in Hampden coincided with the 3-1 victory that saw Croatia reach the round of 16 at the expense of Scotland.
“Croatia showed why they reached a World Cup final and they showed their experience tonight.”
Andy Robertson said Croatia proved themselves to be a top team in their victory over Scotland. https://t.co/xirRw5hy2u pic.twitter.com/dZGmjcjJkl
– STV Sport (@STVSport) June 22, 2021
And now Barisic is determined to capitalize on the factor of individual and collective well-being that he continues to revel in.
“Yes absolutely, when you have a season like the season I had,” Barisic said when asked if his success with Rangers gave him confidence ahead of the European Championships.
“Not just on a personal level but across the club so of course that brings a lot of self-confidence.
“We had big games with Rangers with the championship and also the Europa League.
“So all that big number brings a lot of confidence, especially in the big national team games.
“Yes of course [top off a dream season]. I didn’t think about it during the season because I was focused on the Rangers during that time and winning the championship.
“But by the time we won I started to focus more and more on the Euro. It’s really the icing on the cake for me personally after this season with Rangers.
“Even before the tournament and before the game, they wished me good luck.
“After the game people congratulated me and there were messages that we deserved the win and that we deserved to pass and that they were supporting Croatia further into the tournament which made me very happy.
“We have a lot of support from Scotland. I won’t talk about advice [from Gerrard] but he wished me luck with the tournament. ”
As he watched his compatriots lose at Wembley and have to come back from behind to draw Hampden in their first two Group D games, Barisic never lost faith that Croatia would advance to the round of 16 this summer.
The performance against Steve Clarke’s team was inspired by Luka Modric, but it was more complete and accomplished on every level as Scotland’s dreams came to an end prematurely.
✅ Croatia captain in the round of 16
🇭🇷 First Croatian to score in the 3 EURO finals
⚽️ Oldest and youngest Croatian EURO scorer
– UEFA EURO 2020 (@ EURO2020) June 22, 2021
Croatia will have their 12th man behind them in Copenhagen on Monday as a passionate and vocal fan base is finally able to travel in numbers and Barisic is confident Dalic’s side can rise to the occasion.
Barisic said: “I think the game against Scotland gave us a lot of confidence and a boost of energy and conviction. It gave us a starting point for everything to come now.
“But it’s behind us and we have to focus on the next game and prepare for everything. It could be more difficult, but the game against Scotland gives reason to heighten optimism for what is to come. .
“Having our fans there is something that is very necessary for us. We really want it because we have a special relationship with them.
“It was a big inconvenience in London and Glasgow that we didn’t have our fans there.
“The fact that so many tickets have been sold for the last 16 in so few hours really tells you how much the fans want to support us.
“It’s going to mean a lot to us. I’m expecting a lot of support and it’s definitely going to make things easier for us.”
If the victory against Scotland does indeed prove to be a base on which Croatia can build, then there is no reason why they cannot defeat Spain and hold a round of 16 with the France or Switzerland.
The three-time European champions finished second in their section with five points in their matches with Sweden, Poland and Slovakia.
It would be foolish to suggest, however, that Spain are not among the tournament favorites, and there remains healthy respect for Luis Enrique’s side within the Croatian side.
Barisic said: “Of course there will be some differences compared to previous games. Spain love possession and they have great qualities to keep the ball.
“They are dangerous when they have it, so of course we have to prepare for a different game and a different style of play compared to the three group games.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword. When you go into a game that isn’t so favorite, you maybe a little more relaxed mentally.
“But if you’re not the favorite, that means the team you’re playing against, at least in theory, is better.
“One thing is certain, it will not be an easy game. We know how good Spain are.
“But I am very optimistic. I have no doubts about our quality, which we have demonstrated so many times in the past.
“If we build our attitude and our style of play on the basis of our last game, I think we will play a great game against Spain.”