The national football team arrived in Copenhagen today, where tomorrow they will play Spain in the round of 16 at the European Championships. Opening kick-off is scheduled for 6PM at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, Croatia will not be able to rely on star winger Ivan Perišić, who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Coming off an impressive 3:1 win over Scotland in the final game of the group stage Croatia was riding high until the shocking news that one of its key offensive players, Ivan Perišić, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Perišić, who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, cannot appeal the ten isolation ruling in spite of the fact that it is possible that it was a false positive. At the earliest, Perišić would be allowed to play in the finals, provided Croatia makes it that far in the tournament.
Croatian national team head coach Zlatko Dalić and midfielder Marcelo Brozović held the last press conference ahead of tomorrow’s game on Sunday. Coach Dalić said the loss of Perišić was a huge blow to the team, but added that his side would be ready for the game against Spain: "Obviously we've been in touch and that he's really disappointed, just as we all are over this last minute shock. But we have to adjust. Ivan will be our fan tomorrow, and God willing he will join us in seven or eight days if we advance. We'll do our best to win the game for him. He lived for this and he's in excellent form having scored two goals for us, so it's definitely not easy for him. But, that's life. These things happen."
"We don't need to pay attention to what people are saying. We respect everyone, especially our opponent tomorrow, who are very good. And they know it won’t be easy for them with us. We will certainly not underestimate them, we will be maximally motivated and in the end we will see who was right," Dalić added.
Commenting on Croatia’s tactics for tomorrow’s game Dalić said: “They play possession, and look for open spaces with a lot of rotation in the midfield. In all three group stage games they created chances through possession. Their other quality is the ability to apply pressure deep in the opponent's end with four to five players. We have to be careful not to get caught out in those situations. Both against the Swedes and the Poles, they had several distinct chances in the first half hour, and after that their play was watered down."
As to who will replace Perišić in the starting line-up, Dalić said: "I’ve said before that we have a wide selection of players, Josip Brekalo, Ante Rebić and Mislav Oršić, for whom this is his natural position. If we went a little differently, Luka Ivanušec could fill the role, but I think we will go for the simple solution. It is difficult to replace Ivan, but we have two or three solutions.”
Dalić will also be without defender Dejan Lovren, who picked up his second yellow card against Scotland. Duje Ćaleta-Car is an option to replace Lovren against Spain. Dalić concluded that his team has no plans of playing a more defensive style of game without two of its starters: "I'm not thinking about that kind of option. We have to play. We have to look for opportunities through our wingers. We have the option to do that, but we need a victory. We have to play an offensive game, because if we just defend our own net we won't achieve anything."
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