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Sergei Semak: "Sochi are a quality, experienced team that are always difficult to play against"

The manager spoke to the media ahead of the home game with Sochi this Sunday. 
Sergei Semak: "Sochi are a quality, experienced team that are always difficult to play against"

This Sunday Zenit play their third match in eight days, what’s the physical state of the team?

I think it's fine, the question is more about the player’s mental state, because we have international matches and Champions League matches that go alongside the Russian championship, and switching between games can be tough for the players and the team. 

How is Vyacheslav Karavaev's fitness when will he return?

Karavaev is training on an individual programme and tomorrow he’ll have a medical and then we’ll be able to say when he will be back in full training. 

Sochi were challenging at the top of the league but have now had two defeats in a row, how do you rate your next opponent?

They are very organised and are a good team that had qualified for European competition and are fighting to get there again. That says it all, they are a quality, experienced team that are always difficult to play against.

How ready are Zenit to return to be back in league action after the tense match against Malmo? 

Sunday's game will show us how quickly we can switch and play against a good team. 

Today Mikhail Kerzhakov is absent from training. Is he injured? 

He's fine, he’s absent for personal reasons. Hopefully he’ll be back tomorrow. 

Wilmar Barrios has been called up by Colombia, who play their final match on 14 October, yet Zenit have a game with Arsenal Tula on the 16th. Will there be any issues, like there was before the game against Chelsea?

It was a different situation previously, that was about our game in the Russian league and he was physically not able to take part, and yes the situation is similar, but this time he will arrive a day before the match, so we hope he’ll be available for us. If he plays or not, we'll see, but he’ll be back at the club definitely. 

You’ve said Karavaev and Lovren are on their way back to full fitness, but Sutormin and Chistyakov have been playing well lately. How difficult will it be for Karavaev and Lovren to get their places back?

Let's see. They are important players and the quicker they get back to full fitness, the better for our team. We have a lot of games to come, so need every player available for us.

Sardar Azmoun has been a substitute in the last two matches. How likely is he to start at the weekend?

Sardar is getting back to his best and, although he’s come on as a substitute, he’s not trained that much with the team. He had three days of training before the Malmo game and now he’ll have a few more days. So let's see if he is ready to play.