Influenced by FIFA
Obviously, for Zenit the match against Akhmat was not the most important this month. You can even call it a warm-up, albeit an official one. Of course, no one in the club admits this, because, as the stamp says, for footballers and coaches, the key game is the following.
But everyone had Tuesday’s game against Chelsea in mind. Not even in my mind: Zenit’s opening meeting in the Champions League group stage directly influenced the squad. Let me remind you that Malkom and Claudinho were initially banned from participating in matches with Akhmat and Chelsea, as FIFA satisfied the complaint of the Brazilian Football Confederation against Zenit – on September 1, the club recalled the South Americans from the national team. The blue-white-blue learned of the FIFA pardon just hours before the match.
However, Semak made up the game plan without the Brazilians, and the main team announced the team the day before – and did not change anything. Malcolm and Claudinho remained in reserve, and Barrios did not make it into the application – the Colombian flew to St. Petersburg only on the day of the match.
Debut of Kritsyuk
Zenit did not avoid another loss – Karavaev returned from the national team with an injury. There is no profile right-back in Semak’s cage, so Sutormin, who insured Vyacheslav last season, took Karavaev’s place. And if Alexei is doing great as a substitute this year, then entering the starting lineup was not without mistakes. Akhmat’s players often entered the penalty area through Sutormin’s flank, and in the middle of the first half, he almost brought a goal – he gave a sloppy back pass, the ball touched Chistyakov’s leg and ended up with Konata. Fortunately for the owners, Kritsyuk was there.
Zenit’s debutant played a solid match. Stanislav joined the team less than two weeks ago and spent most of the time training with a truncated composition (many were at the national teams’ location), but Semak still risked putting Kritsyuk at the base. And he played excellently, especially in the first half: he didn’t let Konata score and in a spectacular jump repelled Utkin’s long-range shot, preventing him from creating another masterpiece goal.
And again Erokhin
“Akhmat” surprised by the fact that they refused from intense high pressure, although “Zenith” had an experimental midfield and it was possible to put pressure on it. The hosts disposed of freedom well and, in general, quickly scored and brought the advantage to a comfortable one – first, Wendel scored, and then another goal was scored by Erokhin, one of the best football players of the current season in Russia.
Zenit had no problems in the first half, and it seemed that the champions would easily bring the game to the final. But Zenit’s defense did not always work perfectly, although Semak did not release Lovren at the base, who was mercilessly criticized in the first rounds.
Akhmat quickly played one goal at the beginning of the second half due to a positional miscalculation of the center of defense. And Zenit started having difficulties after that. During the break, Malcolm entered the field, and then Claudinho (Azmun was given a rest). The game opened up: Malcolm was especially active, had several moments. But Grozny also began to often beat on the gate of Kritsyuk, especially from a distance. Zenit was lucky in many ways, but Akhmat did not miss the meeting until the endgame.
At the end of the match, Semak made a non-trivial substitution: instead of Erokhin, Circular came on the right flank. Zenit has reorganized into three central defenders, one of which is Sutormin – Alexei has not played in this position yet.
At the 83rd minute, Zenit still exhaled. Saved Malcolm’s team from the hassle. The Brazilian probably really wanted to excel after everything he had experienced in recent days – and he did it. From the transfer of Dziuba, who also assisted Wendel in the first half.
3: 1 – not an easy win for Zenit, but it’s still just a warm-up before the visit to Stamford Bridge.