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SPORTS

Croatia will not man-mark Patrik Schick, says assistant coach Vedran Corluka

FOOTBALL By Reuters | June 17th 2021
Football - Euro 2020 - Group D - England v Croatia - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 13, 2021. England's Harry Kane and Croatia's Luka Modric after the match. [REUTERS/Andy Rain]

Croatia will not assign a particular defender to stifle in-form Czech Republic forward Patrik Schick when they meet in a crunch Euro 2020 Group D match in Glasgow on Friday, assistant coach Vedran Corluka said.

Schick netted a superb brace in Monday's 2-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park and although Corluka heaped praise on the 25-year-old, he stressed the Croatians would stick to their usual defensive strategy.

"Schick is an outstanding player and I say this not only because he scored two goals against the Scots," former defender Corluka told a news conference in Croatia's coastal Rovinj base camp on Wednesday.

"He has shown at club level too that he is a handful up front but we won't man-mark him. That's never been our strategy at the back and it won't change on Friday."

Corluka, who played in the centre of defence when Croatia threw away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 group stage draw with the Czech Republic in Euro 2016, said the present Czech side would be even more difficult opposition.

"This team is much faster and more dynamic and hence much more awkward to play against. We face a tougher challenge now than we did in 2016," Corluka said.

Czech Republic's Patrik Schick celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group D match between Scotland and Czech Republic, at Hampden Park, in Glasgow, Scotland, Monday, June 14, 2021. [Stu Forster, Pool via AP]

Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runners-up, are under pressure to deliver after a 1-0 defeat by England and Corluka conceded they needed to show more bite up front after a subdued performance at Wembley.

"Our recent problems are clear for everyone to see," he said. "We are struggling in the final third of the pitch and not creating enough chances. We are working hard to get that right."

Centre back Dejan Lovren is back in training after recovering from a knee ligament injury in the build-up to the tournament but is unlikely to start as his replacement Duje Caleta-Car put in a decent shift against England.

With no injury problems, the Czechs have a full squad to choose from and goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik said Croatia being under pressure could play into their hands as they will look to catch their rivals on the break.

"Croatia need the three points after losing to England and they will therefore have to attack. We have an idea how we are going to play against them," he said.

"We timed our form well. We played a really good match against the Scots and now it's important that we keep it up."

Czech Republic's Patrik Schick, 3rd from right, scores his side's opening goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group D match between Scotland and Czech Republic, at Hampden Park, in Glasgow, Scotland, Monday, June 14, 2021. [Stu Forster, Pool via AP]

 

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