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Sergei Semak: "As long as we have a chance to stay in the competition, then we will use it"

The Zenit manager answered questions from the press after the loss in the UEFA Champions League.
Sergei Semak: "As long as we have a chance to stay in the competition, then we will use it"

It was important for us not to concede, but at the end of the first half it happened, and the game became more difficult for us. Leipzig were tough both at home and away and our chances depended on quick attacks. Today we had chances that we did not take. But, if we talk about the game, RB Leipzig had more intensity and their players were both faster in movement and decision making. We were late all the time and their intensity was on another level. They absolutely deserved the win and we need to work on things. As long as we have a chance to stay in the competition, then we will use it, to do our best and get used to playing in this competition. Mistakes are not forgiven here as the level is too high.

Playing three central defenders, seems defensive, did you make a tactical mistake?

No, I don’t think so. It is important to be realistic, to correctly assess the abilities of the team and the players. We do not have the quickest defence and playing four defenders, of which the two central defenders are not that quick, against a team with very quick players, is wrong. So I don’t think we made a mistake. We had chances, but we did not take them. But at this level, we were weaker.

Dzyuba seemed annoyed at his teammates today, for example, with Ozdoev in the first half. Can you comment on this?

These are human emotions and he wanted to win. There were some good chances where we could have scored, but we didn't, there were moments when we could have played better, but we didn't, so there was some emotional reactions. He did not go too far.

How do you explain the change of Smolnikov for Karavaev? Was it to strengthen the attack? Or were you not happy with how Smolnikov was playing? And why were the other subs done so late? 

As a substitution, in the first half we did not attack enough down the right flank, and I think Smolnikov was not confident enough at a couple of incidents, so Karavaev came on as a direct replacement in that position. Regarding the rest of the substitutions, I do not think they were too late. We brought Driussi on, leaving only one sub, with some of our players having minor knocks, we couldn’t risk playing with ten men.

RB Leipzig had more intensity in the game. What do we need here to have the same intensity levels in the Russian league?

If RB can play with just two German nationals on the pitch, then our limit hinders healthy competition. If we look at our youth championship, we can’t use foreigners anywhere in the academies to improve them. Secondly, our championship is at a completely different. In the German league, players are used to playing at with high levels of intensity, at a high pace. Naturally, we do not have these. We need to improve and grow, every year we try to play in the Champions League so that the quality of our team improves, we know our issues and understand which direction to go in so that our team becomes better.

Was Erokhin starting because Orban, who is good in the air was absent for Leipzig and Klostermann started, who is more of a right back than central defender played?

That was part of it and Erokhin is in form, he scored in the last game and has been improving. We needed a player in the middle zone who could move a lot, create pressure, pick up rebounds. Because a lot of today’s game was rebounds and battles and Erokhin is the player who can do this at a good level.

Why did Driussi not start? It looked like you could have done with his pace. Was this due to injury? And was this Zenit’s worst so far this year?

Regarding if it was our worst game, it's hard to answer that now. In matches we’ve played, in terms of chances, yes we created less than we did in Leipzig. If we talk about the game itself, we were behind in quality. We lost at their place and at home, they were the stronger team. Driussi did have some injury issue and had an examination. But he did not start today for other reasons. Firstly, Erokhin is fresher and Driussi is tired. Secondly, we had to make a choice. As for pace, we do not have many players who could compete with the RB Leipzig players. That’s why we played deep.