Returning to tennis-ball

Zenit`s tactical practice on Friday evening pleased the footballers, who were tired of working so hard at physical conditioning, and the coaches, who saw good combinations on the field.

The players spent their short break between lunch and the trip to the second practice of the day by relaxing. The morning practice was extremely intense, and the players could feel it. But neither the players` exhaustion nor the forecast for rain at the end of the day could scare the players: the team bus left for the practice field even a little earlier than scheduled.

The players got a nice surprise at the Marbella football center: the Zenit training field was covered in makeshift tennis-ball courts. Thus the players started their evening practice with their favorite tennis-ball games. The teams were slightly different than they had been in the United Arab Emirates. The goalkeepers immediately left to go work between the posts, while the absence of Rosina and Gigolaev had their effect too. In the end there were three new pairs: Zyryanov and Semak vs. Lombaerts and Huszti (the Hungarian midfielder deserves special applause after making several spectacular bicycle kicks); Hubočan and Fayzulin against Starikov and Ionov (the Slovak defender was especially effective in this match-up, arguing competitively about every call); Meira and Alves against Danny and Lazović (Bruno Alves turned out to be the best tennis-ball player of all, having recently returned to full practices).

There was also a heated contest between the Alexanders (Kerzhakov and Anyukov) vs. Igor Denisov and Vladimir Bystrov: the score was tied in the contest for a long time, and each goal scored was celebrated to the max.

After tennis-ball the players went to work on various combinations, both in attack and on defense. – The important thing is to score! Let`s go, Ionov, come on! – Luciano Spalletti encouraged his team in excellent Russian, and then immediately shifted to the defense: – Mala, excellent save! Nico, excellent run!

After a few more series of passing combinations the practice officially ended, but Bruno Alves, Danko Lazović, Szabolcs Huszti, Evgeny Starikov and Tomas Hubočan all stayed on the field: the five players took shots on Andrey Zaitsev. – “The guys just decided to shoot, nothing out of the ordinary, – smiled the goalkeeper. – I`ll be happy to fend off shots at the next practice too.” Not counting shots off the post, the clear winner in the competition was Hubočan, who scored on two out of five shots. And if you count shots onto the post, the clear winner was Danko Lazović. – “Our main task now is to get ready 100% for the matches of the regular season, and in particular the match with Young Boys,” – explained Zenit`s Serbian forward. – It would be great to win the Marbella Cup, obviously, but these are just friendly battles, part of our preparations.