Dynamo Head Coach answered journalists' questions on the eve of the match against Spartak.
— We are looking forward to the upcoming derby. For sure, it will be an emotional game with high intensity, — the Dynamo head coach told at the start of the press conference. — It doesn't matter what was before, we don't look at the table. We need to play disciplined in defense, give our best and achieve a good result in the game.
— Are you going to pay more attention to defense, given that Spartak are in great shape now and recently beat Napoli in the UEFA Europa League?
— Yes, they are in great shape now. In the match against Napoli, they showed high-quality football and earned a victory. We analyzed this encounter adding some impressions from the matches we had played against them last season. We have had a good training cycle and are coming fully prepared to this match. We have to maintain pace from the first second until the final whistle.
— In what conditions did the players return from the national teams? Will Balbuena be available for the match against Spartak?
— Balbuena will play for the Paraguay national team today, so we will make a final decision on his appearance on the day of the match. Fomin had a recovery training yesterday, and today he will train with the team, as well as Zakharyan. Arsen is poised for Saturday's match. Makarov is still training individually, and his participation in the game remains unclear.
— If Makarov does not play, then the team will lack specialized wingers. Are you considering a switch to three centre-backs and two fullbacks in this case?
— We are considering different options for our tactical formation. If Makarov takes part in the match, we will play according to our usual scheme. Tomorrow we will choose the final option.
— Have you already chosen a goalkeeper for the derby?
— We have not made a final decision on who will play at the goal on Saturday — Shunin or Leshchuk. We also have the third goalkeeper Ivan Budachyov, who was called up to the Russia U21 national team. Ivan trains very well.
— Why did you decide not to play any friendly during this break?
— Last week we trained intensively, played three halves of 20 minutes each against the Dynamo second team. I think that this encounter was close to a friendly match. It was important to see all the players in action and give them necessary loads.
— Who you expect to be the most dangerous in the Spartak side? Who can replace Nail Umyarov, because he probably won't play due to injury?
— We are aware of the situation with the injured players at Spartak. We don't know yet how serious Umyarov's injury is and whether he will come on the pitch or not. We have to play well in defense, because there are a lot of high-class players at Spartak. We need also to run out in fast counterattacks. I can say that we are coming fully prepared to the derby.
— How have Spartak changed after Rui Vitoria’s arrival?
— If we talk about the current state of Spartak, we can say that their last three victories are absolutely deserved. The quality of Spartak play is just the result of the team's work. They started the season with four defenders, but now the coach switched to a formation based on three centre-backs on the pitch. But what matters to us is not how our opponent has changed, but how it plays now, and what keys we can find to their goal.
— Today it turned a year since you became Dynamo head coach. How did you remember it? Do you think about how long your stay in Russia may last?
— I feel great here and I am happy to work with the wonderful people who surround me. We have a great coaching staff, with whom we have a complete understanding. I think that during this time, the team made a big step forward in development, but we do not stop there. We still have a lot to go through, develop and hone our play. It's difficult to think of something now, we need to finish the season well, and we can talk about my future at Dynamo a little later.
— You were recognized twice as the best coach of the month. In those matches when you were awarded this prize, Dynamo did not play very well. Are you afraid of this award now?
— I am absolutely not afraid of it. This is just a confirmation that we are on the right track. This is the merit of our entire coaching staff. But we don't think about it, we are fully focused on the Saturday's derby.
— This season, the team plays much better against the leaders but loses points against the teams from the bottom of the table. What is the reason of this tendency?
— This is a stage in the development of the team, which it must go through. There's no getting away from it. There are matches when we don't always manage to show our football. It is important to fully devote yourself throughout the match and not lose concentration. In every game we try to bring our strong qualities to the fore. Yes, there were defeats from Krylia and Akhmat, who defended well, but you can also recall the winning matches against Ural and Ufa.
— Why do Dynamo use the same corner kick execution? Are you planning to diversify this aspect?
— We have different options for executing corners. Maybe in some encounter one prevails over the other, but in general we try to use different options. The same goes to free kicks.
— Arsen Zakharyan and Daniil Fomin made effective actions In the last matches for the Russian national team. Are you satisfied with their performance and what can you say about these two games?
— I watched both encounters and I see that the team is developing and playing successfully under the stewardship of Valery Karpin. In Slovenia, the Russians scored two goals in time and tipped the scales in their favour. Fomin played a very high-quality game in the central midfielder position and made a significant contribution to the final victory. I can say the same about Zakharyan. I am satisfied with the performance of both players.
— Recently, your compatriot Markus Gisdol took charge of Lokomotiv. Little is known about him in Russia. Can you tell about him?
— I don't know him that well, we've only met a couple of times. I can say that he worked successfully in the Bundesliga with Hamburger SV, TSG Hoffenheim and 1. FC Köln. He is quite competent in football. This is a coach with a clear vision of play, which he will instill in Lokomotiv.