Spalletti: Atletico have winning spirit

The Zenit St Petersburg coach was full of praise for his Vicente Calderon counterpart, Diego Simeone, and expects a stern test on Wednesday

Zenit St Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti has praised Diego Simeone's stylistic influence on Atletico Madrid, with the two sides set to lock horns on Wednesday.

The Liga side have won the Uefa Super Cup, Europa League and Copa del Rey since Simeone took the reins in the 2011-12 season and Spalletti feels that his opponents will provide a more stern test than Zenit are used to facing domestically.

"In Atletico, you can really see the character and style of their coach in the team, that winning spirit," he told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the Group G clash.

"They are characterised by their good control of the ball and the tempo at which they play, which is superior to that of the Russian league.

"Atletico are a very Spanish team in that they control the ball and use quick passes. They are a very strong side who represent Spanish football well. They are also characterised by great changes from attack to defence as you saw in the Supercopa against Barcelona."

Spalletti, however, feels that the relatively low profile of the Russian top flight could work to his team’s advantage and explained how he has set up Zenit to challenge the Colchoneros.

The Italian coach added: "It's true that in many parts of Europe there is still a lack of knowledge about Russian teams and that's because of the general ignorance about the potential within the Russian game.

"I try to teach the players an attacking style of play, but I don't want to say that we should play far up the pitch while leaving open spaces behind us. A modern side needs to play very well as much in attack as in defence."