Luciano Spalletti: “We can score twice”

Zenit`s head coach explained before the match with Basel that the Blue-White-Sky Blues will definitely score against the Swiss, explained why he won`t resign, and said which team results will satisfy him this season.
Luciano Spalletti: “We can score twice”

— How important will it be to score a quick goal vs. Basel, and will you tell your players to score a goal no matter what in the first 10 minutes?
— Of course, the sooner we score the first goal, the better. But we can`t forget one important thing. In the situation we`re in, there`s a risk that we`ll attack with all our force, but then unfold at the back and lose balance in defense. We need to be careful and not play too far up, since this can create problems. I think that one goal per half will be the right game plan for tomorrow, allowing us to maintain our balance. We can score two goals, because we`ve already done so against very strong teams. For us the most important thing is not to give up a counterattack and let our opponents score on us.

— You`re going to have to think up a new defensive line tomorrow. What health problems do your defenders have?
— As for the defensive line, you know that Neto is disqualified, and Anyukov hasn`t returned to training to date, so we have doubts about him. And you know about Criscito.

— Yesterday you and many Zenit team leaders received new cars, and your sponsors emphasized that such an honor is awarded only to great European clubs like Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Real Madrid. Has Zenit reached the level of these clubs? And would it not be better to ask the sponsors to give bikes instead to raise the players` level of physical training?
— I think that for us, Audi is a really important and prestigious sponsor with a famous name. Of course, this partnership increases our responsibility. Naturally, bicycles would be good for us too, because we`ll have to pedal for 90 minutes tomorrow. But in terms of our level, in spite of the difficult times we are going through, Zenit has achieved a lot in recent years, and played a series of very good matches where we were able to get important victories. The main sign that we are truly be successful will be, if, after some time, we go to the other side of the world and meet people who, upon learning that we`re from Zenit, recognize us and smile at us. This will be a real victory.

— Your team has lost three matches in a row for the first time under you. People started speaking right away that the club managers have held talks with Dan Petrescu, and the Italian press is speaking about you being replaced. If Zenit doesn`t get past Basel, will you resign, or will you wait until your friend Mr. Miller finds you a replacement?
— If Zenit starts to question my role and my position, and searches for someone else, I`ll be the first person to be upset about it. At the same time, we all understand that Zenit is a big and strong team, which needs to get results. If we don`t get the results, then it`s totally normal that me and my role will be in doubt. The only thing that I can say for sure is that I won`t resign. Because I know that we can fix the situation, and that this team can win. So I`m definitely not going to resign.

— Aren`t you afraid that a team that has less talent than Zenit will just wait for you in defense with all its players behind the ball? What will you do then?
— Naturally, that`s practically the way the game will go. Basel will play very closed football, hoping for counterattacks, since they have the right qualities and characteristics to play that kind of football. Of course we have to be very careful in attack and try not to fight through the center, since that will help our opponents to defend against us. If we can`t spread out their defense, it will be hard to expect any success up front. It will be a big advantage for us if we can play very quickly after taking the ball away, and not give our opponent the chance to come back and play organized defense. These are the kind of things that can help us achieve success.

— Dnipro`s players said that when they played Basel at home in the previous round of the Europa League, they could have easily gotten back two goals if not for the referee`s mistakes and their own bad luck. Did you watch that match and did you make any conclusions?
— I don`t know exactly which Dnipro players you talked to, but I think that these words can be true, and are possible. If you remember – we scored two goals against many teams. Liverpool, for example. So I think we can do it. I watched Dnipro`s game vs. Basel. Both the away match, and the home match. And I would say that we don`t need the help of others to understand our strengths and to be sure that we will be able to score twice. We`re confident in our abilities.

— You said that one goal each half is a good plan. Do you want to do the same in overtime?
— When I answered your colleague`s question, I said that we don`t need to score in the first 10 minutes. Of course we can imagine that overtime is like a third period. But I made my hint in order for you to understand that it`s enough to score in each half. I`m absolutely sure that this match will be very important to our fans at the stadium, and I`m expecting their support to help our players to feel stronger on the pitch and do everything to get us the result our city needs.

— Zenit is one step away from making the quarterfinals of the Europa League, and is in third place in the Russian League. What result at the end of the season will satisfy you?
— I`m not one of those people who does things just to survive another day, or not to make things worse. My goal is to do the maximum. So I`ll be happy if we achieve the maximum results possible for us this season.