Soccer-Perisic hard to replace but we must move on, says Dalic

·2-min read
Euro 2020 - Group D - Croatia v Scotland

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Croatia must quickly get over the news of winger Ivan Perisic's positive test for COVID-19 and, with plenty of replacements on hand, focus on Monday's Euro 2020 round-of-16 clash with Spain, coach Zlatko Dalic said.

Perisic, who drove Croatia's effort in the group stage and scored in their 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic and 3-1 win over Scotland, is in self-isolation after testing positive on Saturday but Dalic refused to complain.

"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 winners of the match at Copenhagen's Parken stadium will book a quarter-final clash with either world champions France or Switzerland on July 2 in St Petersburg.

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."

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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