Euro 2020: 'Perisic is hard to replace but we have to adapt': Croatia manager Dalic on winger testing Covid-19 positive

Updated on Jun 28, 2021 08:48 PM IST

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has asked him team to focus on their Euro 2020 Round of 16 clash against Spain despite having Ivan Perisic unavailable for selection due to his positive Covid-19 test.

Ivan Perisic and Zlatko Dalic (right) at Croatia training during Euro 2020. (Getty Images)
Ivan Perisic and Zlatko Dalic (right) at Croatia training during Euro 2020. (Getty Images)

Croatia suffered a massive blow ahead of their important Euro 2020 Round of 16 clash against Spain when they discovered that prolific winger Ivan Perisic tested positive for Covid-19 and was going to miss the match. Ahead of kickoff, Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic said his team must get over the shocking news and should focus on the game as they have plenty of replacements.

Follow LIVE BLOG: Croatia vs Spain Euro 2020 last 16 match

Perisic played a crucial role in helping the Croats qualify for the knockout stage by scoring in their 1-1 draw against Czech Republic and 3-1 over Scotland. He is currently in self-isolation.

ALSO READ| Euro 2020: Croatia vs Spain head-to-head battle, form guide

Dalic, however, is not complaining.

"Perisic is hard to replace and he's been our key player in the group stage but this can happen and we have to adapt," the 54-year-old coach told a news conference on Sunday.

"Fortunately, we have more options in Perisic's position than in any other at this tournament so whoever steps in should be able to do a good job.

"Whether it's Mislav Orsic, Josip Brekalo, Ante Rebic or Andrej Kramaric, we will try to take the game to Spain and prevent them from keeping possession because sitting back will get us nowhere.

"They also like to press high up the field when they don't have the ball, it's their style rooted in how Barcelona and Real Madrid play. It's going to be tough but I am confident that we have it in us to beat them."

The winner of the last 16 match will take on the winner of the France vs Switzerland R16 clash in the quarterfinals on July 2 in St Petersburg in Russia.

Centre back Dejan Lovren will also miss the game through suspension and Dalic confirmed that Duje Caleta-Car, who played in the opening 1-0 defeat by England, would be recalled into the starting eleven.

"We will revert to how it was at the back before Lovren made his way into the side because trying out something new at this stage of the competition against a team of Spain's quality would make no sense," said Dalic.

Defensive midfielder Marcelo Brozovic said a personal battle with his Spain opposite number Sergio Busquets could have a telling impact on the outcome.

"It might be one of the decisive factors," said Brozovic. "They have a top-quality midfield but so do we and we'll have to be compact all the way in order to stand our ground."

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