Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic admits his players are “afraid” after Scotland’s Billy Gilmour tested positive for Covid.
Dalic says his stars are playing under “psychological pressure and uncertainty” because of Covid – and reckons it is unfair they have to fly in for games because of Scottish government coronavirus rules.
Asked about Gilmour’s absence, and whether his players were worried about catching it, Dalic added: “Today all of them are afraid nevertheless we have to play and concentrate on the game.
“That is the situation. This Euros is stalked by these issues. We are taking all the precautions.
“We are a bit afraid that something might happen. I wish no one else is positive. I don’t want this to expand. We don’t want it to go further. We have to play this match.
“There is a pressure for all of us lasting a month. We have tests every three days and it adds psychological pressure and uncertainty.”
Croatia cancelled a training camp in St Andrews because under Scottish government rules they’d all have had to isolate if one player caught Covid. Instead they are flying in from their domestic camp in Rovinj to play.
Scotland based themselves in England, at Rockliffe Hall on Teesside.
Dalic said: “I know how much pressure we had when it came to the (training) camp. We travel every three days. Those are not good conditions. The conditions should be the same for all. They are not the same for all.”
Both sides need a win to go through and Dalic added: “This is our last chance to take. We will do our best. We are harmed because we are not playing with our fans. With them we are way better. This is not really fair. We have to travel, keep in isolation.
“We are not allowed to do this or that. No matter what, we will go into the pitch and fight. We are a motivated team.”
The head coach has hit back at a backlash against the World Cup finalist who have been ordinary so far in Group D, saying his “football team should not be attacked or the target of such a huge dose of dissatisfaction.
“The Scotland team is very good. On the left flank Andy Robertson is very good. He jumps very well and attacks very rapidly. That is their strength.
“We will not repeat what we did against the Czech team, where we spent so much energy running one-on-one. That was completely unnecessary. We will change our approach.
“Gilmour missing? Any player missing is not good for a team. Scotland has other good players, more experienced who can replace him. This won’t be a great blow to Scotland as they have good players.”
Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Persic said: “We have not been the real Croatia in the first two matches. We have to be way better and improve.
“It won’t be easy but in the past when we had to, we have been the real team, the real Croatia. We should not fear anything and I think it will be completely ok for Croatia. It is good that Scotland need to win because it will be an open game.”