Monday morning started for Zenit in the traditional way for pre-season practice: the players were already on their feet at 8 a.m., and a little more than an hour later the club bus entered the Strelkovy Practice Complex, where Luciano Spalletti planned the first practice of the day.
The Zenit squad got used to the green grass, which was even more pleasing to the eye after some night rain, in a matter of seconds: the coaching staff went out onto the field to place flags, obstacles, and plastic silhouettes for the practice. The goalkeepers went with Mikhail Biryukov to practice pulling shots out of the corners, and the field players went with Alberto Bartali to stretch.
After that the players broke into the same teams that they were in when playing tennis-ball on the beach the day before. Since the tournament went from the sandy beach to the green grass, the players named it “Dubai Wimbledon,” and the white shirts that the players were wearing made the game even more similar to the English competition. It`s entirely possible that the team will conduct its own “Grand Slam”, playing tennis-ball on a hard surface as well.
The longest part of the practice, as was planned, was dedicated to tactical-physical training. The coaching staff broke the players into two groups: one did a series of running exercises, the second group worked on cooperation in attack. The two groups exchanged roles every twenty minutes. Only the goalkeepers stayed in one place: the forwards didn’t just finish their attacks by firing at the goal, but rather by making fine shots into the corners, forcing the keepers to make pirouettes in the air.
Zenit will have another 2-hour practice at 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon at the Strelkovy Practice Facility.