The Checkered Ones have soaring expectations from the fans after a brilliant 2018 World Cup where they reached the final of a major international tournament for the first time since independence. The team led by Luka Modric did live up to the expectations in the group stage but the challenge of facing three-time European champions Spain got even more strenuous when the news of star winger Ivan Perisic being found covid positive broke out. The Italian champion with Inter Milan scored two key goals and assisted one in the group stage for Croatia as they went through on the basis of more goals scored.
Croatian Football Federation received the results of regular testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which showed that player Ivan Perišić has tested positive for novel coronavirus. Media release: https://t.co/O7E9c1haeO
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) June 26, 2021
His absence will be a major concern for coach Zlatko Dalic as they prepare to face Spain on Monday. Replacing such an experienced and talented winger on such short notice is nearly impossible but Croatia needs to find a way through.
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) June 26, 2021
We, at FootTheBall, will analyse Croatia’s options in the current 26-man squad to replace Ivan Perisic.
IVAN PERISIC IDEAL REPLACEMENTS
The VfL Wolfsburg winger is one of the most ideal replacements for the 32-year old Perisic considering the similarities he has shown in his game and also due to his calibre to play on either flank with the same efficiency.
Usually playing as a left-winger for his club, the recently turned 23-year old has made 10 goal contributions in 29 appearances this season. His attributes are relatively similar to his senior in the national side, Perisic. Both players like to cut in and shoot from a distance whenever they find spaces. Just like Perisic, Brekalo likes to drop deep and help build attacks with his sharp grounded passes and ball-carrying ability.
Brekalo made two appearances at Euro 2020 so far and started the game against the Czech Republic but had to come off at halftime as a consequence of a tactical switch. He is expected to start against La Furia Roja on the left flank unless Croatia changes its formation and surprise Luis Enrique.
The 23-year old CSKA Moscow midfielder can be another versatile option for Zlatko Dalic to field in place of Ivan Perisic as an attacking midfielder from either side. He has already made his mark at Euro 2020 with the opening goal against Scotland in a do-or-die fixture. That was his only start at the tournament and with Perisic surely out of Monday’s fixture, he might get his second.
⭐️ Nikola Vlašić = Star of the Match 🇭🇷🏴
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) June 22, 2021
Vlasic had a revealing season in the Primera Liga and made 16 goal contributions in 26 games. He took four shots per 90 minutes in that period. Croatia will need a goalscoring asset in the absence of Perisic and Vlasic scored 11 of them this season. He is an all-round attacking player who can contribute to the team from left, right or centre. Dalic can use him either as a winger or as an attacking midfielder right behind the striker as he specialises in making the final pass and long-range shooting.
The AC Milan left-winger has played two games in the group stage for Croatia but failed to make an impact, leading to him getting dropped in the final game. He played as a centre forward in those two games as he sometimes does for his club side, but with Ivan Perisic out sick, he might get his chance to start from the left-wing.
He doesn’t really suit the profile of a winger that is required by coach Zlatko Dalic, being less of a creative player but his finishing and pace can be useful against the intimidating Spanish side on counterattacks. He can start as a second striker or a left-winger and make runs into the box with Luka Modric ready to launch a ball at his feet.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) April 18, 2021
The 27-year old scored crucial goals for AC Milan and 15 goal contributions in 20 games in the Serie A, helping his team qualify for the Champions League after eight years.