Luciano Spalletti: “Enthusiasm grows with each victory”

Zenit`s head coach answered questions about the team`s rotation, possible surprises, and the great form of Kerzhakov at the pre-match press conference.

– Are you planning any surprises for your opponent? Maybe we`ll see some players who don`t often get on the field, like Kanunnikov, Ionov, etc.?

– Naturally, the starting eleven will be different than it was for our last game in the Russian league. But I like to talk about concrete facts, not some possible “surprises". I think that in order to get the results we want the players should never underestimate the opponent. From the point of view of football skills, our opponent is very high class, so we`re getting ready for this game very seriously.

– How is Danny doing? He hasn`t played in the national side for a long time, and he missed a Zenit match because of disqualification…

– Danny is the most important player for us. I`ve trained a lot of strong attacking halfbacks with the number 10 in my career. But I`ve never trained a player ready to work as hard as Danny in terms of the distance covered, and the amount of work he does. He came back to Zenit in excellent form and is ready to help.

– Zhevnov played between the sticks against Amkar. Will we see him tomorrow, or were you giving Malafeev a break before an important match?

– Zhevnov is in good form right now, he`s in a good time. And considering what he`s done with all the chances I`ve given him, I think he deserved to start against Amkar. I think he`s got a chance to start tomorrow.

– Did you talk with Kerzhakov about Liverpool?

– First of all, we have to be sure that Liverpool really is interested in him. And secondly, from my point of view I think he wants to stay in Zenit. I would like that a lot. But if a player really wants to leave, I`m not going to stop him.

– How will you rotate the lineup in the near future?

– We`re going to look at all factors together. We`ve got good players with high skill level. We`re going to play several games in a row in the Russian League, really important games, in which we have to get results. The flights, the calendar, all of that has an effect on the players. I don`t understand why I should use tired footballers when I have other top level players who can give their all.

– What do you think, is the team`s streak of 25 matches in a row without a loss in the Russian league having an effect on the players?

– From the psychological point of view, it adds pressure. Journalists blow it way out of proportion, always talking about it. It`s really important to achieve that result, to set a record. It will go down in history. Plus it`s an added stimulus. And now, when the team is winning matches, the players` enthusiasm is growing as well. As for today… I can`t do anything else but applaud my players and keep moving forward

– What do you think has contributed to Kerzhakov`s excellent form? And if something doesn`t work out for him, who`s ready to replace him in tomorrow`s match?

– Kerzhakov is in good form because he`s a very serious footballer who works very hard at practice. He`s a player who knows how to do absolutely everything with the qualities and skills he has. And, like all the other players on the team, he wants to leave a legacy in Zenit. Our team has players who are ready to replace him. In this concrete case it`s Bukharov. He`s under a little stress right now, he`s afraid that he hasn`t shown his potential all the way yet. But I can assure you that he`s a very strong player.