Sergei Semak: “The most important part of our preparations are already done”

The Zenit manager spoke about Cassierra, the match with Red Star and the goalkeeping position.

Sergei Semak: “The most important part of our preparations are already done”

Zenit have signed Mateo Cassierra, which position do you see him playing in the team? Is he going to play against Red Star?

“Mateo Cassierra’s position is clear, he’s a forward. Most likely he’s not one of those players who can play different positions. Right now, we have to see how physically ready he is, and help him get to optimal fitness level quicker. We are planning for him to fly to Sochi with us, how much game time he’ll get depends on his physical state.”

How is Mateo’s getting on with the team?

“Today is only his first day. The day before yesterday he arrived and underwent medical check-ups, yesterday he signed the contract. Today is his first training day. We’ll see, I don’t think he’ll have any problems. Barrios and the whole group of players from Latin America can help him with adaptation. Also Mateo speaks English which makes interaction with Russian players easier. I don’t see any problems with his adaptation. He’ll have to understand the requirements of the coaching staff and find the in-game connection with his teammates. I think everything else will be easier for him since he has already got used to our league. I believe he’ll be able to get in the needed physical conditions and connect with the team quickly.”

What are your views on Red Star? Have you already made the decisions about how you’ll play in the match with Spartak?

“We expect the match in Sochi to be good quality and intense, but we’re still thinking about the line-up and the tactics. The team’s conditions and the way we’re going to play have great importance. We haven’t taken a look at the Red Star team yet, but we will. I think we need to make an emphasis on our team’s actions. The plan for the match with Spartak is the same. We haven’t analyzed the team yet, because we need to see which players are in better conditions first, and we’re going to move forward with preparations from that.”

You mentioned that training peaked last week. Does that mean that after the game in Sochi you will go back to the usual weekly cycle as there’s only one week until the start of the new season, or are there more training sessions ahead?

“About training, the main part of our preparations are already done. Of course we are going to correct some things, but either way the training schedule is going to be easier than during training camp in St. Petersburg. The schedule will be almost like during the season.”

In the match against CSKA Daniil Odoevskiy was in goal, but we all know Mikhail Kerzhakov’s qualities. Can you tell us who is going to be the goalkeeper against Red Star? Also, who won’t be able to participate in that match?

“The only player who won’t be able to participate in the match is Vyacheslav Karavaev, everyone else is getting ready for the game. About the goalkeeper question, we’ll think about it. Before that match there’s no need to check Mikhail’s physical conditions and qualities as we already know them very well. About Odoevskiy, of course we have to give him more game time so he could feel more confident. We haven’t made the final decision who is going to play in the next match yet.”

Does “everyone” mean that there’s a chance that Dejan Lovren is also going to fly to Sochi?

“Do you have something against him? (smiles). Vyacheslav Karavaev is the only one who won’t be able to play, yes. I did not forget about Dejan.”