Luciano Spalletti: “We want to win the championship as soon as possible”

Zenit’s head coach answered questions about CSKA, Igor Denisov, Alessandro Rosina, and Roman Shirokov at his briefing in Zenit’s practice facility before the match with Rostov.

– Generally it’s considered that professional footballers should forget about losses as soon as possible in order to get ready for the next match. How do you feel?
– Yes, especially when there are so few losses in the season. The psychological aspect is always very important. But considering the conversation we had with my players at practice, they reacted in the right way to the loss. I think it's positive that we'll have the next game very soon, and that two matches will be played in a short period of time. As for losing matches, I had some losses in the past too, so I know that losses happen, and the important thing is to have the right reaction.

– A lot of people were really impressed by the match with CSKA. Of course, besides Zenit fans. People are saying that this was one of the best matches of the year in the Premier League. Do you agree that the two teams showed high-quality football?
– I think two really great teams played in that match, two very strong teams. The quality of play and the speed of play too were very high. And of course they played very well, and we made some mistakes in a few instances. We were unlucky. And when we wanted to tie the score, we got too caught up in that, and forgot about counterattacks. But my team didn’t play badly, we played a good match, and we kept up the pace and even tried to attack when we were down 0:3.

– Rosina was the best footballer in the team, both in journalists’ opinion and in the opinion of fans who voted on the team’s official website. Is it possible that he’ll start against Rostov?
– Rosina played a good match. He showed his abilities, his particularities, and played fast football in small space. But by the time Rosina came onto the field the CSKA players weren’t pressing us anymore, and were waiting on their half of the field. Rosina felt good under those conditions, and was able to play the way he likes… He’s a player with excellent skills, and knows how to use them.

– How do you explain Zenit’s losses in the most important matches at the end of the season?
– The main factor is that we didn’t lose earlier. But the fact that we lost one or two matches… that can happen. Of course we have to analyze what happened. The press has been writing for 4 months already that we’re the champion, and so everybody assumed that we should win the championship. So there’s real pressure in each match. We want to win the championship as soon as possible. We need to manage our stress the right way. That’s what I said to the guys today. We have to play each match right up to the end. The pressure on us doesn’t give us an advantage, it makes life harder. We have to learn how to deal with that the right way. It’s a lot easier to lose your concentration when there’s a lot of pressure on you.

– Who will play goalkeeper in the next match? How would you characterize Rostov?
– Well, that’s a funny question. Nobody ever says who is going to play 2 days before the match (laughs). If you want, you can tell me who you prefer. I’ll name the starting lineup on Sunday morning – so as to respect those who work tomorrow. Rostov is a good team which is coming to play without any pressure, whereas we have a lot of danger in this match. Because Zenit is in first place in the league, and that’s incentive for every team to beat us.

– Are there any players with injuries who won’t be able to play on Sunday? How are things going for Denisov?
– What’s wrong with Denisov? Does he have some problems? If somebody doesn’t like Denisov, I’ll take him for myself (laughs). I’m waiting for news from the club, but I don’t see why he should be disqualified. Those players who didn’t practice today... If you remember we just finished our match 24 hours ago, and many players are training individually. Everything’s going fine with Shirokov, but we shouldn’t expect to see him in the next match. I think he’ll be ready a week from now.

– How is Hubocan doing? And why did you replace Bystrov in the match with CSKA? Is it true that he felt some kind of pain?
– As for Hubocan, I can’t say anything new about him until the end of the week. We have to wait and see. As for Bystrov… he felt a muscle cramp in one of his legs, but he’s fine now. He was ready to practice in the main side today, but I sent him to practice individually to be safe.