Sergei Semak: "There weren’t that many chances in today’s match"

The Zenit manager's words on the match against Spartak.
Sergei Semak: "There weren’t that many chances in today’s match"

The match was difficult and it was expected. Unfortunately we weren’t able to win and make our fans happy today. We’re grateful that they came to the stadium to support us. Speaking of the game’s quality, I think the first half was a bit more interesting. If we scored in the first half, the game might have been more open and fun, there would have been more goals. Although it didn’t happen, so we had to play and wait for someone to make a mistake, both teams were focusing on defence. There weren’t that many chances in today’s match, and we were lacking the speed in attack, we had to be more active to finish our shots. We also had to be more accurate with the chances that we did create, so unfortunately we couldn’t win tonight. Now we’re going to start getting ready for the next match.

Could you please comment on the moment with the yellow card shown to someone from the coaching staff? It was unclear who received it.

I think the yellow card was shown to William de Oliveira because he was a bit too expressive. The fourth official noticed it and told it to the referee. That was the only thing and I don’t even quite remember what exactly happened. It was a moment in the game and William overreacted a little, so there was no disrespect there.

You said you were lacking the speed in attack, why didn’t you give more playing time to Ivan Sergeev then? We all remember how he scored the winning goal against Spartak last year.

Ivan Sergeev had a small injury, so he was absent for some time and didn’t train with the team much. Initially we didn’t plan to send him on the pitch today, but we gave him a few minutes to feel the rhythm of the game. The last substitutions were based on luck as there wasn’t much time left. We hoped that if there would be a chance Ivan would be able to use, but it didn’t happen. Speaking of the late substitution, Mateo seemed to play well, but I’ve already explained why we decided to play Ivan in the last minutes.

Was it worth it to return to the 4-3-3 formation? Cassierra seemed to be less productive today. Are you planning to rotate the forwards or is Mateo the permanent part of the starting team?

We’ll see how we’re going to play in the future. Speaking for rotation, Cassierra is the best goal scorer this season, but we’re going to monitor Ivan Sergeev’s condition as well. The competition within the team is always important.

Did the media talks before the match affect your team? Spartak didn’t have Promes and Abascal today, did it lead to underrating the opponent, or perhaps to being overly confident in your skills?

I don’t think so. As for the mindset the players approached the game with and the game itself, they tried their best. There are always cases when somebody loses concentration for a brief second or doesn’t have enough speed to reach a certain position. This happens in every match. Speaking of not having enough motivation, I didn’t see that in the way our team played today. They tried their best, but that wasn’t enough. There was mostly not enough quality in the finishing touch, that’s why we didn’t create many chances today. Spartak were also playing quite well.

Why did you chose Denis Adamov as the first goalkeeper today? Would you say that you made your decision on who’s going to be in this position for the rest of the season?

Judging by what we’ve seen during the training process we decided that Denis was more ready today, so we chose him. In the future we’re going to watch Denis play and view the other goalkeepers’ condition. We’ll see.

What would you say about Artur’s debut? It feels like everybody expects more from him.

Without a doubt he didn’t show everything he’s capable of, and we know that. He had a couple of fitness issues, and missed a few training sessions. He also needs time to get used to the new team and the new country. Today wasn’t his best day, but we hope that in the future he will improve his performance.

How difficult is it to work with the foreigners limit in the RPL? You’ve made two substitutions today, Karavaev instead of Fernandes, which was a Russian sub, and Pedro changed Artur. Do you regret letting a few Russian players go on loan?

No, it was their personal decision. Dmitriy Chistyakov and Aleksey Sutormin helped us a lot, they are experienced footballers and they want to play more. Speaking of the limit issue, the situation in other teams is relatively the same. I suppose people just discuss Zenit and our foreigners way more than the other clubs’ players. We are aware that every team is allowed to have 13 foreigners in the list for the match, and there are clubs that have the same struggles with that. The reason for it is that some clubs got a chance to sign skilled Russian players who are ready to come on the pitch, and some clubs couldn’t do that. It all comes down to the basic economy in football, calculating salaries and transfer costs.

Before this match Krasnodar played against Rubin and finished with a draw. Did it affect today’s game?

It’s hard to say how much it affected our game and if it even did. It’s something you can’t check. As for our performance and motivation, I’ll say it again, our players tried their best and we don’t have any questions for them. This is football, and that only means that we weren’t the best to claim the win tonight.