Croatia's Ivan Rakitic has expressed surprise that his Barcelona teammate Alen Halilovic was not picked for the country's Euro 2016 campaign.
Halilovic, who was also a star at the 2013 U17 World Cup played in the UAE, scored three goals and set up five in 36 La Liga appearances while on loan at Sporting Gijon last season. But the attacking midfielder did not make coach Ante Cacic's squad.
"It is the coach's decision and we have to respect it. But it really surprised me because Halilovic had worked hard while with the national team and had a phenomenal campaign," Rakitic, who will play for Croatia at Euro 2016, told Spanish sports newspaper Marca.
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Despite being left out, Rakitic said Halilovic, who has won eight senior caps for Croatia and is under contract with Barcelona until June 2019, has a bright future.
“He needs to put this behind him and focus on next season,” he said. “It might do him good to start the campaign fresh. Halilovic will give a lot of joy to Croatian football.”
Croatia begin their Euro 2016 campaign, against Turkey, in Paris on June 12. They take on the Czech Republic five days later in Saint-Etienne and play their final Group D match against defending champions Spain on June 21 in Bordeaux.
Meanwhile, banned Uefa president Michel Platini will be allowed to attend tournament matches providing he does not do it in any official role, the European governing body’s acting general secretary said yesterday.
Theodore Theodoridis told a pre-tournament news conference Uefa received a letter from Fifa, football’s world governing body, “telling us Michel could attend matches as a person, providing he does not do so in any official function”.
The executive committee of Uefa will now rule on a demand by the European body to invite Platini for the entire tournament, he added.
“As for Friday, I don’t expect he will be there”, Theodoridis said, referring to the opening between France and Romania at Stade de France.
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