A month of battles for a whole year

Luciano Spalletti talked about his expectations for the end of the season and what he thinks about Zenit`s packed match schedule in October and November.

– The season is coming to an end, and Zenit will have 12 matches in a month and-a-half. What do you think about that?

– We understand perfectly well that we’ll have to play a lot, but we have a team that has a lot of top class players. That should allow us to get through the end of the season in good fashion. I think we'll achieve our goals with the help of our footballers.

– There was already one part of the season this spring when the team had a lot of matches, but now you have more footballers than you did at the beginning of the year. Will that make it easier this time?

– Ya. But although we didn’t have so many players earlier, and we didn’t have the chance to vary our starting side so much, our guys still showed an excellent approach to the game at that time, and were in the right physical shape. Now, at the end of the Russian season, we’ll have a different problem: like it or not the players will start getting tired. Plus there’s a large group of players who already have a lot of yellow cards. So there’s a risk that they’ll get disqualified for some matches. An obvious example was the absence of Hubocan and Danny for the match with Amkar.

– A lot of people in St. Petersburg have the opinion that Zenit is trying to win the Russian Premier League and advance from its Europa League group as soon as possible, so as not to suffer from the packed match schedule at the end of the season. Is that true?

– We’ll think about a rest a little later. But for now there's a risk that all of the work we've done over the last 10 months will be wasted. So that’s why our footballers need to understand really well that over the next month Zenit will be playing for everything that it’s accomplished up to this point. And there shouldn’t be room for anything else. We’ll rest later. We’ll get time for that.

– Does Zenit have enough physical endurance for the end of the season?

– We have data telling us in what physical condition each player is in right now. That way we can keep the process under control. But I personally have another source of information. I get the most important and valuable information based on what I see by looking at the players with my own eyes.

– In the spring you said that when there’s a packed match schedule it’s even more important for the players to get psychological rest than to get physical rest. Will it be even harder to deal with the emotional factor at the end of the season?

– I’m sure about one thing: the goal that we’ve set ourselves and which we can accomplish in October-November is so important, and the desire to achieve it is so great, that all of that will exceed the factor of potential psychological fatigue

– Do you consider the possibility of sending your youth team on the field for the last match of Zenit’s Europa League group stage on December 16th against AEK in Athens?

– Why are you asking me that question?

– If you win your group before then, you can allow yourself to send the youth team out.

– You know what, you've got really dangerous ideas for this time in your head...