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Last month, 13 people lost their lives and over 100 more were injured during a terrorist attack on La Rambla in Barcelona, when an extremist used a van to plough through crowds of innocent civilians in the Catalan city. Another woman was also killed during an explosion in neighbouring Cambril. And if not for his wife, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic could have been in the middle of the atrocity with his family.
Speaking to Goal.com, the Croatia international explained how he had wanted to visit La Rambla on the afternoon of the attack, but his wife, Raquel Mauri, talked him out of doing so, instead staying in a park near their home.
"During recent terrorist attack in Barcelona I was very close.
"I went downtown with my family and we prepared to go to that place the attack happened. I wanted to go there but my wife said it was a nice day and to let the kids play in the park outside our house. Thank God I listened to her.
"We were three or four minutes away from going there. And as soon as people heard of the attack, many friends and family started to call me to check how we were."
Barcelona's players paid tribute to the victims of the attack by holding a one minute's silence at their training ground and then again ahead of their La Liga clash with Real Betis (followed by chants of "We are not afraid" from the home crowd), while also wearing special shirts emblazoned with the hashtag #TotsSomBarcelona (We Are All Barcelona) instead of names on the reverse of their jerseys. Black ribbons were also handed out to fans attending the game, while 14 seats were left empty in the Camp Nou's President Suñol box in memory of those who died in the terrorist atrocity.
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