Dalic expects Croatia focus despite Covid concerns

The Croatia manager admits his side are worried a positive case could derail their hopes.

Dalic expects Croatia focus despite Covid concerns SNS Group

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic admits his team are running scared of Covid – but he expects all of his players to stand and fight Scotland.

Steve Clarke’s side have suffered a major blow ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Hampden showdown after seeing Billy Gilmour test positive.

It is a nightmare scenario for the Scots ahead of a game in which both teams know their Euro 2020 hopes are on the line.

Having taken just one point each, only a victory will be enough to grant them a shot at reaching the knock-out stages.

But boss Dalic also fears his side could see their tournament hopes damaged beyond repair by the pandemic.

Croatia have taken their coronavirus precautions seriously – even cancelling their camp in St Andrews and instead basing themselves back in their homeland amid fears Scottish Government rules would mean their entire squad would be forced to quarantine if they received even just one positive test result.

Now seeing Gilmour fall victim to coronavirus on the eve of their decisive Group D showdown has heightened those fears again.

But Dalic has faith his players will not let their worries stand in the way of progression.

Speaking at his final press conference after touching down in Scotland, Dalic said: “We have just arrived in Glasgow – but I don’t expect anyone to say they don’t want to play.

“All of them are afraid but nonetheless, we have to play, concentrate on the game and forget everything else.

“That’s how the situation is for this entire Euros.

“All of us have been negative until now, we are taking all the precautions and implement all the measures. But we just have to see what happens.

“Every third day we go through the tests, there is psychological pressure and uncertainty.

“So we are afraid something would happen, they test positive and we all end up isolating and having those serious issues.

“I hope nobody else (in the Scotland squad) is positive, I don’t want this to expand. Hopefully it’s just a single case.

“I wish Gilmour a good recovery and I wish that nobody else ends up positive with Covid because that would make things difficult.

“We are concerned but we have to do this match, we have to play and try to win the three points.”

Dalic will again be without Rangers defender Borna Barisic, despite the Ibrox defender returning to training following a back strain.

And he has backed Clarke’s men to cope without Gilmour.

He added: “We always knew the third match would be decisive. This is our last chance and we’re going to try to take it and progress.

“We are a very motivated side but we see Scotland as a very tough team. They played well against England.

“Gilmour didn’t start in the initial line-up but played the last match.

“Scotland have other players, maybe more experienced players, and one of those will maybe replace him.

“So I don’t think it’s a great blow to Scotland because they are a good team with great players.

“They have shown they are in good form, they drew with Holland 2-2 and only lost a goal in the last minutes.

“Against England they played well away from home in front of the English fans – so I would say that is a good team.

“Borna has not trained with us for the last five or six days.

“He has trained only twice recently so that hasn’t been sufficient for me to be sure he can play an entire match. He will be with us and will be there though.”

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