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Sergei Semak: " We only learned that Malcom and Claudinho would be available the night before the match"

The Zenit manager spoke to the media after the 3-1 win over Akhmat at the Gazprom Arena. 
Sergei Semak: " We only learned that Malcom and Claudinho would be available the night before the match"

We started out well and had good movement. After we conceded we seemed to lose some shape, and we could see that some of our guys were finding it difficult out there and some looked tired. We didn’t have the right balance between attack and defence and Akhmat took advantage of the space we left available. The goal gave them confidence and shock us, but it's good that we managed to score the third goal and got the deserved win. Although, our performance in the second half gives us something to think about.

When did you find out that Malcom and Claudinho would be available for today’s match? Did this alter your game plan?

We prepare our line-up for every match and discuss everything before the game. We only learned that Malcom and Claudinho would be available the night before and we thought about if we could start them or use them as subs during the match. We decided to keep our original lineup, and use them in the second half, which we did. Having different players in the team alters the formation and tactics of the game quite a lot. We didn't have many players available today, Kuzyaev didn’t have much playing time today and Lovren was also very tired, but the guys did well and pulled things together to get an important and well-deserved victory.

Kritciuk started today, was that so you could see him in action? And the second question, it’s well known that you’re against the foreigner limit, what arguments can you give in to defend your position?

When a player arrives at the end of the transfer window, we have to look at him in action. It is clear that it is not easy for him, but Stanislav played well under pressure today.

As for my attitude to the foreigner limit, I have long held this position and it has not changed and will not change, I am against all limits on foreign players, but I’m not looking for a complete cancellation, but having an equal limit as it is in the countries we compete against. It would be better for the competition and most RPL clubs and coaches support the cancellation of the limit. We’ve had it since 2004 or 2005 and we can’t claim any big progress with it. We need to change this situation if we want to compete with the best and we should fight for this. If you are against this and would rather develop football in Russia, then we can refuse to change, but then you need to understand that in this case we will not have the results we want in Europe for some time, until we produce our own quality players.

Today Vyacheslav Karavaev wasn’t in the squad, why was that and what can you say about Kirill Kravtsov's game?

Karavaev did not play because he was injured in the last match for Russia. We thought that the injury was not serious, but it turned out to be quite serious and we do not know how long he will be out. He won’t be available for the next match for sure.

Kravtsov came on and played well, we know his good points, he wasn’t able to play in the middle as we have a very strong competition for places there, with Kuzyaev, Barrios and Wendel. However, he is a player in our squad and he played well today.

Will Zenit continue to fight for Barrios to play against Chelsea? 

It's is always difficult when a club loses players for internationals, if a club has 25 players of equal ability then it's fine, if not, it becomes difficult. This question is not entirely a football question as there are UK government regulations. If they allow him to play we will be very glad, if not, we’ll have to live with it. There have been many unfortunate events recently, it's the way things are and there’s nothing we can do about it.