Sergei Semak: "We are looking forward to a full stadium against Spartak"

The Zenit manager spoke to the media ahead of Sunday's Cup clash with Spartak Moscow. 
Sergei Semak: "We are looking forward to a full stadium against Spartak"

How important is it that Zenit reach the next round of the Cup through the RPL Path? Of course, we all know how important any match with Spartak is.

You are absolutely right, every match is important, our aim is to win, even in the friendly match against Crvena Zvezda, which had 20,000 fans in attendance. We are looking forward to a full stadium against Spartak and want to get a good result for our supporters.

The result and goal difference is a big factor, we will look to play to our best and get the win. Time will tell if we can get a win, with a large number of goals, but our main aim is to win. 

The three teams from our group have already qualified for the next round in the Russian Cup and there are pluses and minuses. We always set ourselves the highest targets and want to win and go as far in this competition as possible.

Is everyone fit to play? Are there any injuries other than Rodrigao? What is the situation with him? 

Those who definitely won't play are Odoevskiy and Lovren. The rest are getting ready. Some have some issues, but they will probably be ready to play.

You’ve not been as good in the Cup as you have been in league, with two losses to Krylia and Spartak. Does this show the importance of having a deep squad when playing on two fronts? Do these two defeats show you don’t have enough quality in reserve?

The better, more prepared players will start, that’s always the case with our first team. For a number of reasons some players don’t start, and Cup matches can give us the opportunity to give match practice to everyone so they can feel the rhythm of the game, show what they can do and challenge those who start most matches. As far as those results go, don't blame the players, everyone has their part in any defeat. It gives us something to think about, why we lost this or that match, there is information for us that is very important. 

It is what it is and in football everything is fair. The situation we’ve found ourselves in is absolutely fair. Perhaps, at the beginning of the competition there was a thought in our heads that the first three teams will go through anyway, so we weren’t giving it our all straight away?

In the match with Fakel Malcom came on and scored, as he did in the match with Crvena, until you made the substitutions, the team didn’t look very good. Why is there such a gap between the first team and reserve players? Even though some are internationals like Krugovoi, Sutormin? 

There are always differences when comparing players against those play all the time. They show what they can do in training, but sometimes they lack match practice, and sometimes there might be other reasons. When any team isn’t playing their strongest starting XI, this can be seen in the quality of the game and the results, and this is completely normal. It shows that today we were not good enough and to let ourselves play with two squads without losses.

The Minister of Sports Oleg Matytsin has announced a match against the Iranian side Sepahan, but the club hasn’t made any statements about this. Can you tell us anything?

Of course, we are looking at having a match and the club’s management will deal with the planning. We will try to make sure that the match takes place when it is convenient for both us and Sepahan. I would like to play this match.

A question about the World Cup, there’s been a lot of added time played in matches, do you think having this in our league would be a plus for such leading teams as Zenit and Spartak? Will we see the same in the spring?

It seems quite odd at the moment, but it is probably fair as there are a lot of stoppages and time wasting. Fans want to see more intense games and if there are a lot of stoppages due to injuries or VAR calls, stoppage time should correspond to that. I don't see anything wrong with this. One of the teams can use this time to comeback.

There haven’t been any negatives, except that it is unusual to see compared to what we were used to before.