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Meira returns, Zaitsev flew in from Petersburg

Zenit continues its two practice a-day schedule. On the eighth day of pre-season practice the team got two new faces.

Despite the players` expectations that they would get an easy day on Sunday after playing a match on Saturday night, Zenit held two more practices on Sunday. This news didn`t upset the players too much though. After all, the blue-white-light blues are used to working twice a day, and understand why the coaches are putting them through this experience at the beginning of the season.

The Sunday morning practice started with two pleasant pieces of news. Firstly, the team got Fernando Meira back, who missed several practices because of a bad cold. Meira went with the team`s physiotherapist Pavel Pleshkov for a run on the beach and warm-ups. Secondly, fourth-string goalie Andrey Zaitsev came early in the morning by plane to Dubai from St. Petersburg, where he finished playing for Zenit`s youth side in the CIS Champions Cup. The young player will now have to make up for missing a week of practice with the main squad. According to Zenit goalkeeper coach Mikhail Biryukov, Zaitsev will have individual practices this coming week.

The main tasks fulfilled by Zenit players at Sunday morning`s practice included running exercises, which were interspersed with obstacles courses in the sand. Having finished his work with the field players, Spalletti came to the goalkeepers. Zenit`s four goalies were practicing kicking the ball, and Luciano decided to join them.

At the evening practice Zenit`s coaching staff continued to work on attack. After the traditional tennis-ball the players were broken into two groups, one of which worked on attacking, the other on defense. Bringing their skills to the point of being automatic, the Zenit players then held a scrimmage in which certain passing combinations had to be fulfilled.

On Monday evening Zenit will play one of the most popular teams in Asia – the red-white Iranian club Persepolis. The match starts at 18:30 St. Petersburg time.