About his career so far
From the clubs that I’ve played at, Zenit are the biggest. I hadn’t won trophies in the Czech Republic or in Holland, and with Zenit I’ve already won four trophies. We’ll be in the Champions League for the third season in a row and the whole city is supporting us. Sparta Prague where I was previously are a big club known in Europe. Vitesse where I played in the Dutch championship, take on giants like PSV and Ajax, but I don't want to compare teams and leagues. I'm only talking about what I've achieved at each club.
The differences between the Russia team from 2018 to now
Who was at the World Cup? Zobnin, Dzyuba, Kudryashov, Cheryshev, Golovin, Fernandes, Zhirkov... Compared to the World Cup, the squad has changed a bit, and that is normal. Now we have a new team with many young players and the new players are ambitious and motivated. Many of us have never played in tournaments like the European Championships. What are the best things about us? We have a mix of experience and youth. We’re an ambitious team with young guys who bring a lot to the team. At the same time, the squad also has experienced players who have played in major tournaments.
About European leagues and the Russian championship
In every league, some players improve and become better, while others might not. The Russian Premier Liga is a serious and tough league with a lot of competition here. For example, in Holland, everyone is more used to playing with the ball and the players have good technique. In Russia it’s tough and many players find it difficult with all the challenges. But with these conditions, you have to adapt and play at your best
If we talk about playing in Europe, then it is more difficult to do it with a small foreign club than from one of the top Russian team. Zenit often dominate on the pitch and we have the ball a lot of the time, so we have the opportunity to show our best. We’ve won the championship for the third season in a row and are again in the Champions League and this is a chance for us to prove ourselves. We can see players like Golovin and Miranchuk who have moved to good European clubs from Russia.
He has great qualities, he’s a good passer, he’s a dribbler. Any negatives? Perhaps he needs time to adapt to the Russian championship and he’s had injuries. He is an important player and tries to help the team as much as possible. His communication is good and he speaks English pretty well. Things are going really well.
His aims for Euro 2020
I think this will be one of the most important moments in my career as I have never played at a major international tournament. My personal aims? To begin with, I would like to play in every match and to play as well as possible and help the Russian national team. When the whole team is playing great, individual players all do well. I would like to go as far as possible, and also try and get involved in scoring moments. Now we’re just focusing on getting ready.
I love my country and am proud to play for the Russia. This is my first international big tournament. I'm excited to play at the European Championships as the whole country is supporting us, it’s really interesting! We will definitely play some of the matches at home so that’s an added bonus. Playing at our own stadium and in front of our own supports will be cool.