Italian football can learn from Russian league, says Spalletti

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
luciano spalletti(Photo: Roberto Vicario)

luciano spalletti

Zenit St Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti says Italian football can learn from its Russian counterpart.

The Italian manager secured the 12th win of his inaugural campaign in the Russian Premier League against Rubin Kazan on Saturday as his side opened up a commanding nine-point lead at the top of the table.

The 2008 UEFA Cup winners have not lost a match in the current title race and are unbeaten since Spalletti arrived in St Petersburg last year.

Their fluid style of play is akin to that of the 51-year-old’s former AS Roma side and it has led Zenit to nine straight league victories.

Spalletti told La Gazzetta dello Sport about the advantages of the Russian top flight.

“In our League it’s obligatory to have five Russian players and an Under-18. Five Russian players is perhaps a little too many,” he said.

“This number will probably be reduced. But you need to do something to defend the youngsters.”

He added: “In Italy, talent develops only to be continuously thrown away. No one worries about creating a favourable corridor for youngsters.

“Our football must find space for youngsters with precise rules.”

But Spalletti conceded that flaws do exist in the Russian League despite the nurturing of young talent.

“Tactically, it’s not at the top,” said Spaelletti. “An organised team can have advantages. Zenit wasn’t a gamble.

“I knew what I would find here – an extraordinary club, which backed me from the first day.”

Indeed much of the Italian’s success in Russia has been built upon solid tactical foundations. Spalletti led Zenit to their first Russian Cup triumph in ten seasons earlier this year.

His side face a home match against Unirea Urziceni tonight in the return leg of their second qualifying round Champions League tie.

Reflecting upon their chances of progressing, Spalletti remarked: “It’s another battle. But we want to get into the Champions League for real.”

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