After Zenit’s defeat to Leipzig (0: 2), journalists waited for Sergei Semak in the conference hall of Gazprom-Arena for almost an hour. There was enough time to prepare the questions that turned the conversation about the Champions League match with the German club into an analysis of the acute problems of Russian football.
The outcome of the away and home Champions League match against Julian Nagelsmann’s team (1: 2 and 0: 2) turned out to be the same for Zenit, but the scenario was different. If in Leipzig the blue-white-blue forced the opponent to recoup, then in St. Petersburg it was not possible to find a way to the gate of the Germans. According to Sergei Semak, the reason for this is global.
“Leipzig” acts more intensively, the opponents are faster both in movement and in the speed of decision making. We were late all the time, – says Sergey Semak. – The intensity of Leipzig is different, so the guests’ victory is absolutely deserved. And we have to work. While the chances remain, we will try to use them and get used to playing in this tournament. Errors in the Champions League are not forgiven, the level is high. “
Even in the Russian championship, an important condition for Zenit’s victory is often the space provided by the opponent. Such space “Leipzig” could theoretically provide, if in the end of the match were inferior in the score. A positional attack is considered the weak link of Zenit from the first match of the team under the leadership of Semak, who indirectly confirmed this problem by talking about Zenit’s idea.
“It was important for us not to miss, but at the end of the first half it happened, and then it became more difficult to play. Our chance was in quick attacks. If in the first game we could not even run away in them, then in the second there were moments that we did not realize, “Semak emphasized.
After defeats and nondescript matches, Sergei Semak is often criticized for wrong tactics, choice of line-up and belated replacements. Another part of the critics notes that his head coach knows better than all the others put together about the peculiarities of the opponents and the condition of Zenit players. Even after 0: 2 at the Gazprom-Arena, Sergei Semak considers his decisions to be justified.
“It is important to be realistic and correctly assess the players‘ capabilities. We do not have the fastest line of defense, so playing four defenders, of which two are central and not fast, against a team with high-speed players, is wrong, – the head coach of Zenit draws attention. – In the previous match with Leipzig, before the first conceded goal, our defense could not insure. At the same time, there were a lot of run-ins and openings behind the back – we simply didn’t have enough one player to accompany this opening. In the second match against Leipzig, this also passed, but already in a quick attack. We did not make such mistakes in a positional attack. So I don’t think choosing a tactic with three central defenders is a mistake, it’s a logical decision. “
The match against Leipzig became a continuation of the game against CSKA for All Russia striker Artem Dziuba. Not only because of the rare sharpness at the gates of the opponents, but also because of the tone of communication with them. In both meetings, Dziuba was remembered for fights. On the eve of the match with Leipzig, Artem spoke of a special anticipation, he wanted to become a participant in the most important event as soon as possible. The striker’s mood sometimes affected even his partners – in the first half, Artyom had a very heated dialogue with Magomed Ozdoev.
“These are emotions – I wanted to win,” Sergey Semak explains. – There were some good moments, assists, where we could score, but did not score, there were moments where we could have played better, but did not play, hence the emotional reaction. But Artyom did not cross any boundaries. “
Smolnikov’s competition with Karavaev and the limit on legionnaires
Ward defenders are rarely changed. And during the break – very rarely. If not due to injury, then such a substitution is usually considered indicative. Thus, the coach either admits a mistake when choosing the starting lineup, or publicly puts his player “bad”.
“We were practically not attacked through the right flank in the first half, and I think Igor acted not quite confidently in a couple of chances, which is why Vyacheslav, his direct competitor in position, came out. As for the rest of the replacements, I don’t think I made them late. We had Driussi, there was one more change left, but we held it back. Some of our players had micro-damage, and it was wrong to risk being ten men, ”Semak continues.
A discovery awaits you here! Provided that you are one of those who consider Zenit with teams like Leipzig as favorites. Perhaps you were surprised when you saw that when the score was 2: 0 in their favor, the guests did not allow Zenit to approach their goal. Opponents did not allow Zenit to get to the ball for a long time. Semak recognized the superiority of “Leipzig” in all respects. But when the coach was asked the question – how can the lag behind the Bundesliga level out – the answer of Sergei Bogdanovich disappointed.
The head coach of “Zenith” voiced the platitudes, diluting them with another mention of the introductory, which cannot be altered. In addition, these introductory notes have long been recognized by disinterested specialists as an accompanying factor, and not the reason for the lag of Russian football behind the best examples of European. But perhaps Semak has nothing to do with it, and he simply does not have an answer to this question.
“If Leipzig can afford to release two players of the German national team, then our limit directly interferes with healthy competition. Even if we take the youth championship, we cannot use foreigners either in academies or anywhere else to strengthen the teams, – said the head coach of Zenit. – Moreover, the level of the championships is completely different. In Germany, footballers are used to playing at high intensity, at high speed. Naturally, we do not have such a skill. We need to grow, strengthen, try to play in the Champions League every year so that the level of the team grows, and we understand our problems, see where to move in order to become stronger. “
The role of Erokhin and Driussi in reserve
30-year-old Alexander Erokhin is sometimes called a footballer out of position. Not a striker, but not quite a midfielder either. It seems that it is not extreme, but you cannot definitely call it central either. An explanation of the personnel choice for the match with Leipzig in favor of Erokhin will clarify the importance of his role for the current Zenit.
“ Erokhin is gaining shape, scoring the ball to CSKA, he has an emotional boost,” says Sergei Semak. – We needed a player in the central zone who could move a lot, create pressure, pick up rebounds. Because a lot of the game was based on rebounds and martial arts, and Erokhin is the player who has these qualities at the proper level.
Driussi did have an injury, they did an examination. But he did not make it to the squad against Leipzig for other reasons. First, Erokhin is fresher, and Sebastian is tired. Secondly, we needed a rebound player. When it comes to speed, we don’t have many players who are ready to match the speed qualities of the Bundesliga players. So we played low. “