The charter flight with the blue-white-sky blues on board took off for Athens from Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg a half-hour later than was planned: Russian Primer Minister Vladimir Putin, who had just launched a new high-speed train route from Petersburg to Helsinki, was also leaving the city on the Neva for further important state meetings. Zenit, in turn, which was leaving for a no less important meeting in its season, didn`t take offense at the delay. After almost a week of practicing inside in the gym, the players were happy to move to the ancient Greek city, where they can work more fully on ball skills.
– This is a really good decision, and we support it completely, – smiled Fernando Meira. – Furthermore, I heard that they are planning a strike in Greece, and that could have meant all kinds of problems that we don`t need as a top club.
The almost four hour-long flight went by like lightning for the team: somebody was practicing playing the new Angry Birds computer game for tablet computers, another played chess against the computer, others were reading either the newspaper or more serious literature, and a few other players just slept. To say that the team was in a good mood would have been an understatement: the footballers were sincerely happy that the game in the Greek capital will be the last one of the season that started exactly ten months ago, on March 13. – The last match this season – and then vacation! – said Vyacheslav Malafeev in his Twitter account. He also added upon Zenit landing in Athens that the team faces a very important match which the team has to perform well in so as to thank Zenit`s fans for their support over the course of the year.
The footballers were given an additional boost by the Greek weather: it was raining lightly in the Athens airport, which, as Russians believe, is a good omen when traveling. The trip from Petersburg to Greece ended exactly seven hours after it started in the Hilton Hotel in the center of Athens.
Tomorrow the team will begin its final stage of preparation for the last match of the season. Zenit will start practicing at about 1:00 p.m. on the field of AEK`s new practice facility, which was kindly offered by the Greek side.