Spartak Moscow coach Unai Emery has been impressed with the strength of the Russian Premier League.
"Both matches that we played in the Russian championship so far showed that the league is very strong," said Emery, who led Valencia to three consecutive third-placed finishes in La Liga, just behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Emery said that his team had to show patience after they conceded a goal in Sunday's home match against Volga Nizhny Novgorod before scraping a 2-1 win in the closing seconds of stoppage time.
"We needed plenty of self-control and endurance to create scoring chances while at the same time stifling their counter-attacking efforts," the Spaniard said. "I expect that many of Spartak's visiting rivals will opt for a defensive style against us this season, relying on the counter-attack."
The 40-year-old coach added that he was pleased with his club's style, which allowed Spartak to win the two games they have played so far. "Spartak's playing style is first of all the club's strong character," Emery said.
Pleased with imports
The coach also said that he was pleased with Spartak's new signings, adding that the club needed fresh blood to boost competition for places in the line-up.
"We needed a new defender after Marcos Rojo went to Sporting. [Juan] Insaurralde fits perfectly Spartak's demands for the player at this position," he said.
"Meanwhile, [Kim] Kallstrom is a very classy and experienced midfielder. He comes to Russia from a strong European league and his presence should add to our team's creativity in attack.
"Coaching Spartak is a new and thrilling challenge for me," he said. "We want to give the reigning champions Zenit a tough challenge this season.
"Spartak will also represent Russia in the Champions League and we are set to do it with dignity. It's important to improve our playing steadily, day by day to perform well both in domestic league and the Euro cups."