Miha Mevlja: "Step by step we are finding our form"

The Zenit defender discusses his holidays, the Gazprom training camp in Dubai, the upcoming match with Celtic and his life in St. Petersburg.
Миха Мевля: «Шаг за шагом мы наберем хорошую физическую форму»
What did you do during the holidays?

I spend most of the time with my family. We went to Dubai for ten days and then we returned home. 

Are you pleased to be back in Dubai again?

Well, it's a little bit different. Now we came to train and not to relax. The first part of the camp is always very difficult. 

That is your first training camp with Mancini. How do you feel after three days of his training program?

Yes, this is the first time I'm at a training camp with Mr Mancini. We just started a few days ago and the first workouts are difficult, but that's normal. We run a lot, we spend time on tactics. Step by step we are finding our form.

Now Zenit are training at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex. Do you now that one week ago Manchester United were training here? What are your thoughts on this training centre?

Yes, I heard they were here, the conditions are very good. We have to travel every day in heavy traffic, but it's worth it, everything is very good. 

Zenit have quite strong opponents during this winter break: FC Kopengagen, Slavia Prague, Guanchjou, Slovan Bratislava, Crvena Zvezda and Maribor. Are you looking forward to the games against all of them?

I prefer to take each day as it comes. First we need to train hard, because we are not yet ready for full matches.

Will the most interesting game for you be against Maribor? 

For me it will be just another friendly match. All these games will help us to return to match fitness and prepare the game with Celtic.

Do you care about results in these matches?

Of course, the result is always important, just to give everyone confidence. But now the game rhythm is more important. Step by step, training by training, we are getting ready. 

How can you describe the first part of this season?

We played better in the Europa League more than the Russian championship. We will try to improve our position in the Premier League and bring everything to a good conclusion. The season is not over yet. 

Is this season the first in your career when your team are chasing the championship?

Previously I played for Dynamo Bucharest and we always tried to win all our competitions. So I've done this before. 

But all the same, Zenit and Dynamo are on a slightly different level?

Of course, Zenit is a top club with its traditions, full of the history and wins in the Premier League and in Europe. 

You have been playing in the Russian Premier League for 18 months. How can describe this tournament and the team's styles?

It's a very high-quality championship, where teams battle and run a lot. The level of infrastructure in Russia has grown significantly over the past year. All the players I know, enjoy playing in Russia. 

Zenit play in the biggest club stadium in Russia with the most number of fans attending home games. Can you share your experience of the stadium?

It's something incredible! We have an excellent fan base and our supporters help and force us to give our best. A full stadium is the best motivation there can be. 

Is it possible for Zenit to win the Premier League?

There are a lot of matches ahead, so we have every chance of winning it.

Zenit will play against Celtic in Europa League. Is this a good draw for you? 

Actually, it's still too early to talk about it. Before that we need to complete two training camps and only after that we will start to focus on the game with Celtic. I can say that Celtic are a strong team and we are looking forward to two very interesting matches. 

What are you doing in St. Petersburg during your free time? (besides training)

For the first 2-3 months, I was alone in the city. Then my family came and now I spend all my time with them. We go for a walk, visit different places. Everything is great.

How do you and your family feel in St. Petersburg after half of year in the city?

Very good. While I'm at the training camp my wife returned home, but she cannot wait to return to St.Petersburg again. 

How is your Russian language going? 

It's OK, but if someone speaks English, I prefer to talk that.