Why Rakitic, Croatia qualifying for the World Cup is good for Barcelona

Very rarely this season has Ivan Rakitic been the marquee name for Barcelona at any point this season. Yet, during this international break, the Croatian had the most at stake of any Blaugrana out on national team duty.

With Germany, France, Brazil, Spain and Argentina having already punched their tickets to the World Cup, Rakitic and his countrymen were a result in their home and away playoff with Greece away from qualifying.

The Croatians were up 4-1 in the playoff after a dominating performance in Zagreb and Rakitic may not have gotten on the scoresheet, but he was pivotal to the result. Real Madrid's Luka Modric scored a penalty to start the scoring, but it was the total combination of Rakitic, Modric and Inter Milan's Marcelo Brozovic in the midfield that Greece could not break down.

The second leg was more of the same, ending in a 0-0 draw and Greece never having much control in the center of the field until late in the game when Croatia bunkered down to protect their three-goal aggregate lead. With Rakitic in the World Cup and the selections of the current international break serving as potential squads for Russia, Barcelona's first team could be sending 16 players this summer's event. This number could rise depending on the form and second-half success of Gerard Deulofeu, Sergi Roberto and possibly even Rafinha.

While Barcelona must hold their breath in the face of potential player injuries during international competition, players often live out life-long dreams of taking part in the World Cup. On the other hand, the marketing exposure for their players can often be a huge boost for clubs and Barcelona are a team that will be sending more players to Russia than most clubs in the world. If Rakitic or any other national team player's future is ultimately away from the Camp Nou following this season, Barcelona should have a prime opportunity to cash in on their stars after the world has taken a look at them.

Not everyone on 'The Barcelona Podcast' was entirely sold that international competition is beneficial to the clubs. Francesc and Dan debated this and much more on the most recent edition of 'The Barcelona Podcast':

You can subscribe to 'The Barcelona Podcast' on iTunes, LibsynStitcher or via your preferred podcast app.

The Barcelona Podcast is brought to you by Francesc Tomas (as seen in ESPN, The Guardian) and Dan Hilton (Barcablog). Listen in for the hottest breaking stories from the Camp Nou!