Croatia’s Kristijan Jakić discusses playing alongside Luka Modrić, his first World Cup & more

Speaking exclusively to Bild, Eintracht Frankfurt and Croatia’s Kristijan Jakić discussed SGE’s impressive start to their season, playing alongside Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić and Marcelo Brozović and his thoughts when hearing of his nomination for the national team.

It’s your first big tournament, what’s on your mind?

“First of all, it’s a great honour to be a part of this team. We are here in Doha as runners-up and we’re all inspired by the incredible success we achieved in Russia in 2018. Nevertheless, we feel no pressure to have to repeat that. We know that there are at least 10 teams that can beat anyone. The fact that I’m actually a part of the biggest football tournament is crazy. It’s a blessing that I have the chance to represent Croatia.”

Oliver Glasner said you burst into tears when you found out about your nomination?

“When you watch a World Cup on TV, first as a little boy, then as a young footballer, you then dream of being there one day. Playing against the best players in the world, fighting for your country on the biggest stage. When that dreams come true, it’s really overwhelming. In that moment you feel that all the hard work and sacrifces you made to turn pro are worth it. Of course, I was very excited and upset when I found out about the nomination. I want to do everything to show the coach and staff that they made the right decision.”

Where does national coach Zlatko Dalic see you?

“I think he sees me as a six, as a backup for Marcelo Brozović. He knows where I’ve played at Eintracht this season. He also knows that I can fill any role if necessary. But our team is very well positioned in defence. I don’t think I’ll be needed there. It’s a blessing that I’m a part of the Croatian midfield with Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić and Marcelo Brozović. One of the best, if not the best, midfield in the world. I can learn a lot from them.”

Eintracht are fourth in the Bundesliga and in the Round of 16 in both the Champions League and German Cup, what could happen this season?

“I think we can be very satisfied with the first part of the season. We managed to establish ourselves at the top of the league despite the double burden and it was a great achievement that we made it through in this difficult group and made it into the round of 16. But you will understand that at the moment only the World Cup counts for me.”

Jakić (25) joined Eintracht Frankfurt on loan from Dinamo Zagreb in August 2021 and after an impressive season, Die Adler signed the Croatian on a permanent basis for a reported €3.5m. Since his move, Jakić has played 60 games across all competitions, scoring two and creating one. Predominantly a defensive-midfielder, he’s also operated in central-defence and at wing-back under Glasner this season.

Croatia start their World Cup campaign on Wednesday 23 against Morocco in Group F, alongside Belgium and Canada.

GGFN | Daniel Pinder

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