A meeting in “Elba”

The full Zenit squad arrived at its hotel near to the Spanish city of Estepona by 8:00 p.m. St. Petersburg time on Wednesday evening for its next pre-season practice session.


The small break given to the team by the coaching staff between its first and second pre-season practice sessions ended on Wednesday – Zenit players flew in to Spain throughout the course of the day from around Europe.

The first to arrive at the Elba Hotel was Zenit`s Italian coaching staff, headed by Luciano Spalletti. Next to arrive were Zenit`s players from neighboring Portugal: Miguel Danny, Bruno Alves, and Fernando Meira. The next mini-group to arrive included Aleksandar Lukovic and Danko Lazovic, followed by Nicolas Lombaerts, Tomas Hubocan and Szabolcs Huszti. The main group of Zenit players came on the charter flight from St. Petersburg. The team plane flew took off for Malaga at 3:00 p.m. in St. Petersburg, and brought the players to Spanish soil 5 and-a-half hours later. The players arrived at their hotel seven hours after leaving St. Petersburg. Luciano Spalletti met his Russian delegation of players in the hotel lobby, and stood out with his tan, which became even darker after four days spent in his native Italy.

Zenit will play at least three matches at its second practice pre-season training (on the 3rd, the 5th, and the 8th of February), and it`s entirely possible that the team will play another practice match on the 13th. This intense schedule has become normal for the team, which starts playing in the Europa League again starting on February 17th.
- I don`t think we`ll see anything entirely new, because we have our first official match of the season just two weeks from now, - said Zenit halfback Konstantin Zyryanov. – We have to use our practice matches to pick up optimal form for the match with Young Boys. But we`ll only be able to say if such intense practicing helps us or not after our match in Bern.

The whole team got together for supper at 8:00 p.m. in the hotel restaurant “Rome” and tested the local chefs. At first it seemed that the players weren`t too happy with the food, since they left the dining hall very quickly. But that was due to another inescapable part of pre-season life – attending massage sessions.

- It`s hard to say how much work we`ll have to do, said Zenit and Russian national team masseuse Sergey Kolesnikov. – I hope that the players will all feel good - like Bruno Alves, for example, who has only been to the massage room once or twice since the start of preseason. Considering how many matches the team has coming up, I think we`re going to have to work round the clock. The team has to be 100% ready for its match in Bern.