Evidently only the most desperate Ulyanovsk fan doubted that Zenit would calmly take on the Volga on the road…
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: Well, what can I say… The result of 0:3, let’s say, is expected. Of course, the class of the St. Petersburg team is higher. The field could make its own adjustments to the game; you must admit it was very mush-like. However, the ability came to the fore, and as a result, the Volga people still had no chance.
Is it possible to consider the victory of the Samara “Wings of Soviets” under Moscow “Dinamo” 2:1 unexpected?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: The result is, in principle, unexpected. But I watched several pre-season matches of Dynamo and they showed that the Muscovites are not one hundred percent ready yet. They always started off good, but then somehow “blown away”. Perhaps they will approach the resumption of the national championship armed. But now, it must be admitted, Dynamo cannot play the full 90 minutes of the game “to the full”. As for their comeback game with the Wings, I think if they choose the right tactics, they will definitely go further. Because they are still stronger than the Samarans.
“Rostov” played at home and was still considered the favorite in the match with “Ural”. How would you rate the final 1:1?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: Do not forget that the “Ural” this season – on the fly. Also, this team has a very experienced coach, Viktor Gancharenko. Of course, the class of the Rostov mentor Valery Karpin is beyond doubt, but this time his team did not manage to get the desired result. “Ural” actually looked very good, and the 1:1 result did not surprise me at all. But the result of the second meeting of these rivals will be more revealing.
Probably hardly anyone expected the final 3-0 match CSKA – Krasnodar.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: I can say that the army team was one shot faster than their opponents. And it’s not about speed as such, but about the speed to make the right decisions in the game. In addition, in CSKA’s performance there were many “walls” and gaps between the lines. “Krasnodar” in this regard was also not bad, but CSKA still outplayed it and won because of this. But I’ll say it again: Krasnodar’s pattern of play is also very good, and if they start to act a little faster, they will be a joy to watch.
Does “Krasnodar” have at least a small chance to recover in the second leg?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: I don’t think the army team will “lose” their game in a week. So, the chances of Krasnodar in reality, at least. I will say this: 5-7 percent, no more.
“Spartak” in the match with “Lokomotiv” was even stronger – many fans, including non-Spartak, believe so. Do you agree with this?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: Stronger, but not in the head. In the second half, the Spartacists played, as they say, on the result. But the fact that the first half was completely behind them, everyone saw with the naked eye. In the second half, “Locomotive” redid a little, the first 15 minutes of pressure. Of course, there were no great moments, but the railway workers nevertheless took the initiative. Then his coach made two substitutions to keep up this pressure. But a couple of minutes later there was a reaction from the Spartacists – Quincy Promes appeared on the field. But still, overall, the second half was dictated by Lokomotiv – they had a goal disallowed, and then Artem Dziuba hit the post.
The second leg of these rivals will be very interesting. If the railway workers can organize constant pressure and lead 1: 0, then the football “swing” will begin, and I cannot predict in whose favor the confrontation will end. “Spartacus” can start the second game on defense and make counterattacks. Let’s see what happens in the end.
How much, in your opinion, has Loko’s game changed with the arrival of a new head coach?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: It struck me that the guys were ready to move. But tactically, they still, of course, need to be finalized. Especially with the arrival of Artem Dziuba. This is a specific player. He is used to acting on the edge at the “top” of the field, but in the “Locomotive” this does not always work out. We saw that when the railway workers in the first half of the match with Spartak unsuccessfully ran after the ball, Dziuba practically did not receive it. But if they manage to find some balance in the game, it will be very interesting. If only they didn’t lose their fitness and were ready to run. But, of course, it is better to run with the ball than without it, because it consumes a lot of energy.
You are one of the leaders of Loko in their golden days at the beginning of the 21st century, but you also managed to play for Spartak. If it’s not a secret, who were you rooting for this time?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: I have never hidden the fact that I have always supported Lokomotiv and I am not going to change.
Do you think Loko will triumph in the second leg with Spartak?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: I confess that after the first half of the first match there was little hope for this. But after the second, of course, they appeared.
What do you think of the new formula for the Russian Cup?
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: It is clear that it developed in the context of the scarcity of European competition matches. And I am very interested to see how the fight will continue and who will ultimately become its winner. It’s great that Premier League teams come to visit lower league rivals. Here in Ulyanovsk people came to Zenit and, I am sure, they were glad to see with their own eyes our team, the best in recent years. As for the drawing system of this Russian Cup, then, of course, it is a bit confusing. You need to understand it, but in general the idea is clear. And what will happen next, we’ll see.