ZAGREB (Reuters) – A long club season affected by the COVID-19 pandemic followed by a draining Euro 2020 tournament build-up could have contributed to Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen’s horrific collapse, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said on Monday.
The 29-year old Denmark midfielder is in stable condition after suffering cardiac arrest during the first half of their 1-0 Group B defeat by Finland in Copenhagen on Saturday, with play halted for nearly two hours after the incident.
Eriksen was given CPR by medical staff on the pitch before being rushed to a nearby hospital.
“We were really distressed by the horrific sight. It’s been a long season affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and now Euro 2020 is a also massive exertion for the players not least because it requires so much travelling for most teams,” Dalic told an online news conference at Croatia’s base camp in their coastal resort of Rovinj.
“Some of these factors have likely played a part.”
Earlier on Monday, Danish players and staff expressed dissatisfaction by being told by UEFA in the immediate aftermath of the incident they could either resume the match on Saturday night or begin again on Sunday at 1200 local time (1000 GMT).
Denmark are one of the hosts at the June 11-July 11 tournament featuring 24 nations and being played across Europe, having kicked off barely a few weeks after the end of the domestic club season which had been impacted by the pandemic.
Following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by England at Wembley, Dalic conceded Croatia lacked bite up front and said they had no choice but to win their remaining Group D games against the Czech Republic and Scotland.
“I am fully aware that we left a whole lot to be desired going forward against England and we will have to be much more adventurous in our next game against the Czechs if we are to reach the last 16,” he said.
“There will be changes in the starting line-up because we created nothing up front against England although I am pleased with our tactical approach because we were up against one of the tournament favourites.
“We lost the game but we would have been massacred if we’d thrown caution to the wind as English forwards are so good at finding space between the opposition lines.”
Croatia play the Czechs on Friday and take on Scotland on June 22.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)