Sergei Semak: "We’ll play our strongest team"

The Zenit manager spoke to the media ahead of the match in Moscow with Spartak this Sunday.
Sergei Semak: "We’ll play our strongest team"

Spartak have not been at their best this season, in your opinion, what is the reason for Spartak’s poor season? What strengths do you see in Paolo Vanoli's team and what will you be focusing on before the match in Moscow?

I won’t answer the first part of the question, there are other people who can assess their performance this season. Spartak have recently found their form and got some good results. They’ve reached the Cup final and they’ll be playing at home in front of their fans, so will try to be at their best. We aim to win every match and we’re going into this match just as motivated as we were in the last match against Khimki. Their team’s strengths are that they are well organised with good players. It will be an interesting match to watch and to play in.

Who’s not available for the match in Moscow? Will we see a different line-up or will you play your first team?

Everyone who played in recent matches is getting ready for the game. Lovren and Karavaev have serious injuries, as does Kritciuk. Every other player is getting ready for and we’ll play our strongest team in this match.

Alexander Medvedev recently confirmed your contract extension saying the issue has already been resolved. When will we get an official announcement? At the end of the season or before? Also can you tell us about Dzyuba, given the great form Sergeev is in, are you looking at Dzyuba for next season? 

Regarding my contract, a contract clause has been activated, but as for the future, we will sit down and discuss things closer to the end of the season. The club’s management has said they wish to discuss my future so we’ll talk and see.

As for Sergeev and Dzyuba, the better player will play. We have two more days before the game so we’ll see who will be in the starting lineup. As for the next season, those questions need to be directed at the club’s management. There are a number of unanswered questions about the foreign player limit, the fixture calendar, the tournament itself and certain players questions.

How important is the meeting with Spartak for you? You’re 27 points ahead of them and won the reverse fixture 7-1. However they’re in the Cup final and are a tough opponent, who would you say is their best player?

Spartak should be congratulated on reaching the Cup final, they haven’t been there for a long time and they absolutely deserve it. We’ll let those who speak on these matters voice their opinions. Our job is to play the game and we will treat them with the utmost respect.

As for their players, the attack is quite dangerous. Promes looked great in the last match, as did Sobolev and Nicholson, who is scoreing a lot, Bakaev too is making a lot of assists, so it’s all their attacking group that is playing well. They can also change formation and play with four defenders or five, with one, two or three forwards They are a team that can change things and also make good use of set pieces. It will be an interesting match, I only think about what will happen on the pitch, not around it. This is our most important job. 

Can you comment on Zenit’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If Zenit were allowed to play in a neutral stadium, how would you personally react to this? 

That would be fine, the main thing is to play. There are many cons, but the main plus is to keep playing.

As you’re already champions does this mean you have some more free time and are doing some things a little differently? 

Nothing has changed with our training, or with the players and coaches, there’s not much more free time, there is less pressure in getting results. We still have coaching work to do and our coaches are sharing their knowledge. Maria Burova has travelled to some seminars and Ivan Carminati will host an open seminar this week at the Gazprom Academy, to which everyone is welcome to come. We’re trying to help other and share our knowledge.