First Half: Perfect Defense and Dangerous Counterattacks
Unfortunately, the reporting game week of the Champions League ended unsuccessfully for the Russian teams. Lokomotiv and Zenit held their matches in the same scenario. Both the railroad workers and the Petersburgers went to the break with a minimal advantage in the long run, but after the break they missed twice and eventually lost.
Of course, the level of the rival of the team of Yuri Semin was much higher. Juventus has always set itself the task of winning the Champions League, while Leipzig is only participating in the main European Cup for the second time.
However, the results were largely similar and indicative. Firstly, both Russian teams have relied on a strict game in defense and counterattack. It seemed that Zenit in Germany could have acted bolder, because the wards of one of the most talented coaches in Europe, 32-year-old Julian Nagelsman, have recently looked not impressive and have not won victories for more than a month.
Despite this, Semak did not dare to take risks, which on the one hand was understandable - nevertheless, Zenit played away from one of the main competitors, and the value of each point in this match was incredibly high. At the same time, the coaching staff of St. Petersburg did not resort to an arrangement with three central defenders, as was the case in Lyon, but managed the usual duet of Branislav Ivanovich and Yaroslav Rakitsky.
But this did not prevent the “Zenith” in the first half to act as reliably as possible and practically avoid dangerous moments at their gates. I remember except that the long-range shot of Conrad Lymer at the crossbar in the second minute. The rest of the guests defended calmly, and at the first opportunity they brought the ball forward to Serdar Azmun and Artyom Dziuba.
It was even surprising how much free space the owners leave in their half of the field. It seemed that the wards of Semak would use them more than once. And at the end of a half-hour meeting, Zenit stepped forward. After casting Douglas into the box, the Leipzig players carried the ball to Rakitsky, who sent him to the far corner.
Second half: a turning point in the game and one moment at Zenit
Alas, the second half turned out for Petersburgers the exact opposite of the first. And here it is necessary to note the competent actions of Nagelsman. The young specialist unexpectedly removed Timo Werner, the team's top scorer, and in his place released a light technical Mateus. Even though many fans did not understand this substitution, it turned out to be correct in many respects, because Werner was lost in the first half in the confrontation with Zenit defenders, and the fresh Brazilian added speed to the hosts.
Also, “Leipzig” shifted the vector of attacks themselves from the left flank, where Vyacheslav Karavaev perfectly acted, on the right. And Douglas dos Santos, under pressure, unfortunately, immediately sailed. Before the teams returned to the field, Conrad Laimer and Marcel Zabitzer played a simple wall just on the right edge, and the latter sent the ball into the net.
And soon Zabitzer himself, along an incredible trajectory, sent a shell to the far nine. Needless to say, Douglas did not follow the Austrian again. The Brazilian had, to put it mildly, not the best match, and became one of his main antiheroes.
After the second goal conceded, Semak needed to take some measures, and he decided to switch to the game of three central defenders, throwing Jordan Osorio into battle. With this castling, Sergey Bogdanovich hoped to untie his hands in an attack to Karavaev and Douglas. Right there, Osorio miraculously missed the target after Rakitsky's backache.
Alas, this moment remained the only dangerous one for Zenit in the second half. Nagelsman again responded to the castling of Semak with his competent replacement. Having let out a quick striker Yussuf Poulsen, the specialist loaded the Zenit defenders with additional work and forced the Petersburgers to return to the defense.
The exit of Daler Kuzyaev with Robert Mack had no effect on anything. The Russian team ran out of power, and football fans from St. Petersburg who came to Germany in large numbers did not wait for the final assault. Unfortunately, it remains only to state that Zenit lost in the case, and Nagelsman outplayed Semak.