The day for the team began with a visit to Mamayev Kurgan. The footballers and the coaching staff placed flowers in front of the eternal flame and toured the memorial grounds.
What sensations did you experience when you visited Mamayev Kurgan? Did you have anyone in your family who fought?
Valery Karpin: I think that in every family there are and were people who fought. So many people died… We laid flowers and visited the eternal flame. My great-grandfather and my great-grandmother fought.
Can you notice any nuances in Cuba’s game? What did you focus on during preparation?
Valery Karpin: Don’t fool anyone: Cuba doesn’t have Messi, Ronaldo or Modric. We were no longer preparing for specific names. We carefully watch how our opponent plays, but we put more emphasis on ourselves, even if we face a team like Cameroon. So I didn’t tag anyone individually.
Only two Zenit players were called up. Is it disappointing that only two players from the flagship of our championship have received an invitation?
Valery Karpin: Annoying. What to do about it? I don’t know, the question is not for me. Apparently, the Russians are losing the competition to foreign players.
There is an opinion that if the team does not defeat Cuba, it will be a disaster. Do you think the same?
Valery Karpin: If this happens, we will be criticized, that is our destiny. After Cameroon everyone was happy, but after the game against Kenya they were already scolding us.
Is there anyone injured?
Valery Karpin: No, everyone is ready to play.
Friendly matches do not have tournament purposes. Have you thought about maybe putting on a little show? Play yourself for 30 minutes?
Valery Karpin: At most Onopko can come out (smiles). I am not ready.
What can you say about the weather in Volgograd? Today there is a very strong wind.
Valery Karpin: If the same wind blows in the stadium on the day of the match, it will be difficult. I hope this doesn’t happen. I don’t know if you saw it in training or not: the ball flies, changes direction, not only in the air, but also on the grass.
Who is the team leader now?
Valery Karpin: It’s hard to say, point to just one person. There are guys who appeared not long ago, they didn’t even participate in tournaments like the World Cup or the European Championship, but they form the backbone of the team. Probably, from the total mass I will single out Alexander Golovin and Daler Kuzyaev. However, I wouldn’t call them the only leaders.
The day before, Akron coach Evgeny Kaleshin criticized Russian football. Do you agree with him?
Valery Karpin: I do not share your point of view on the degradation of our football. This is not clear to me. How does it manifest? In youth football? That? I don’t believe it.