Croatia lose Perisic to covid ahead of Spain last-16 clash

June 28 – Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has admitted that losing one of his superstar players for tonight’s last-16 clash with Spain, Ivan Perisic, is a complete shock, saying he was “the best player in the group phase.”

The Inter Milan forward is the latest player at the tournament to test positive for Covid-19 and has been ruled out of the Copenhagen showdown. He will now spend 10 days in self-isolation.

Perisic is one of the most experienced players in the Croatia squad, having won his 104th cap against Scotland, putting him joint-sixth on their all-time list, which is led by captain Luka Modric.

“I spoke to him, he’s disappointed and sad,” said Dalic. “It was a shock.”

“If we progress in the tournament, God willing, then he’ll be back with us in seven or eight days. He was in great shape, scored two goals, but this happened.”

The winners of Monday’s game will play the quarter-finals in St Petersburg on Friday despite the fact that the city has reported its highest daily Covid-19 toll since the start of the pandemic.

Official figures show 107 new Covid-related deaths, the highest toll of any Russian city, while on Saturday there were 1,247 new infection cases.

Officials in the sixth-worst hit country the world – and the hardest in Europe – have been accused of downplaying the severity of the outbreak. Across Russia as a whole there were 21,665 new infections reported on Saturday – a 25% increase over the previous week and the highest daily figure since January 21.

Russia’s second most populous city has already hosted six games but is where dozens of Finland supporters caught coronavirus after they travelled there for their team’s recent defeat against Belgium.

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