Sergei Semak: “All our thoughts are only on the match against CSKA”

The Zenit manager spoke to us on the recovery of Barrios and Sergeev, the call-ups for the Russian national team and the friendly match against Fenerbahçe.
Sergei Semak: “All our thoughts are only on the match against CSKA”

Do you know when Ivan Sergeev and Wílmar Barrios are going to be back after their injuries?

“I think we’re going to see them after the international break. Ivan might be back earlier and Wílmar a bit later, but after the break, either in the first or the second match. I would say they will be ready by that time.”

The match against CSKA is ahead of you. What are their strong points now?

“They’re good with counterattacks. Many teams play this way against us, they try to start quick counterattacks. Their team are doing well in defence too, in terms of statistics they’re the second team after us for the few chances they allow. They're a strong team with good defence, they’re able to start quick attacks and score. They’re one of the top sides in our league, so the match is going to be interesting.”

This week Zenit’s schedule was tighter than usual as there was a match in the middle of the week. How are the footballers dealing with the amount of physical activity? How is the process of getting ready to face CSKA going?

“After the Cup match we’re working on the recovery process more, it’s difficult when you have two matches in one week and the conditions for training are quite challenging, the quality of the pitches are not great, so we need to do our best to recover as much as we can. Everything else is going as usual.”

The national team announced the final call-up list and there are only two Zenit players now, which is different from the extended list. What’s your opinion on this?

“For us it’s good, at first they planned to call up four of our players and now it’s only two. Considering that we have a match against a strong opponent in Turkey it’s definitely an advantage for us as the amount of players who would be able to play against Fenerbahçe is limited. We want to face them with our strongest players, and I think we will have 10-12 footballers available, so it’s going to be a good game. Speaking of international matches and the amount of our players being called up, it’s the decision of the national team’s coaching staff.”

How would you describe the mental state the team is currently in? Zenit rarely lose, and some of the experts think that it might affect the team’s confidence in the league.

“We’re trying to focus on the quality of our game, the score can vary. There are a couple of nuances, for example the way we played at the end, but generally we played a good match against Dynamo. The quality of our game was fine in the previous three matches as well, so we’re going to focus on that. Speaking of the final scores, any team can lose, especially a Cup match. It’s part of football. Now all of our thoughts are about the next match, we’re going to get ready to play at our maximum.”

The next week is going to be eventful. Tell us how the team is going to travel after the match against CSKA.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that eventful, we have one match ahead and a couple of days off afterwards. I suppose after the match in Moscow we’re going to fly back home, rest and then we’ll have two days to get ready after which we’re going to travel to Turkey. When we come back from Turkey, we’ll rest for two days and start getting ready for the match against Ural.”