Sergei Semak: “It’s always nice to play in our stadium with our fans”

The Zenit boss on Sunday's game with Schalke 04.
Sergei Semak: “It’s always nice to play in our stadium with our fans”

What are your aims for the match against Schalke 04 and will we see many young players?

We need to think about who's available and who we will need in the near future. Some players are coming back after injury, some have not had enough match practice. So we'll decide depending on who is available. As for young players, you can expect to see them. Zenit-2 play on the same day, so instead of them we'll have some youth players. We will think about the guys, but anyway it is always better to play than train, it is more useful and it is always nice to play at our stadium with the fans.

Will we see players who've been out with injury, such as Igor Smolnikov? And what can such matches give young players? 

As for Igor, unfortunately, he is still not training with the team so don't expect to see him. As for what these matches give to young players, this is an opportunity to try players in different positions. For a young player, any chance to play in the first team is an opportunity to prove themselves and take a step forward. They should show how they can play and that they can be relied upon now or in the near future. 

After the match with CSKA, you said that the team is in a lul. Will this match help?

For us, this isn't a new start. This is something we are looking at and it's part of our job. Each team has periods when they have fewer wins or losses. We are looking and analyzing how to find a way out of the situation so that the risk of losing points is as low as possible. 

Mikhail Kerzhakov has forwarded you a question regarding how the team are preparing for the game with Schalke 04.

As for thoroughness, we prepare for each opponent in the same way. We understand Schalke-04's team and tactics and we start from this. We both have similar situations, many players are away with their international teams. So they will be many changes and it will not be easy to prepare for each of their players. But we know how this team plays and this is to our advantage when preparing for the match. 

You've said about a drop in form. But there are also psychological issues and by that I mean the situation with Kokorin. Has this affected the team?

There is no major issue and I have already said that it is impossible in the course of the season that all 20 players at the same time are tired or find themselves in poor form. Perhaps, some of our players are in poor form and it can seem that the whole team is in such form. There is a certain level of tiredness, the international team players have not rested for a long time too. 

As for the second part of the question, we are waiting for Sasha Kokorin’s return, we have been waiting for a very long time and his return will be a serious boost for us. Unfortunately, things happen. But we continue to wait for his return. We are waiting for Sasha to continue doing what he loves. This is a player who is very important for the team and his return is very important to us.

Driussi is your only forward available for the match against Schalke 04. Do you see him in the centre or out wide in attack? 

We’ll see. He may start where you say. 

Dzyuba missed out on the Russia game yesterday due to injury, do you have any update on him? 

He is training on an individual program. The medical staff will decide how ready he is for the match with Sweden. I hope that he will recover soon and will be back for us and Russia.

Have you discussed the number of substitutions for Sunday’s match? 

There will not be many substitutes. There are no problems. Neither us nor Schalke have many players available.