ElPozo Murcia were UEFA Futsal Cup bronze-medallists last season as the inaugural hosts of the new final four event. Spanish champions again, they go to Poland for Elite round Group A from tonight aiming for a return to the showpiece stage.
To do so they must top a group hosted by Clearex Chorzów and also containing Croatia's HMNK Gospić and Murcia's opening opponents KMF Marbo Beograd of Serbia. Murcia relinquished their Spanish league lead on Friday as they lost 6-3 at home to MRA Navarra and FC Barcelona's 9-3 victory against Carnicer Torrejón FS a day later sent ElPozo down to third place with 12 points from six games. Still, Murcia have a team capable of winning Spain's fifth UEFA Futsal Cup in seven seasons with established stars like Kike and Álvaro added to this summer by Brazilian player Ciço and Spanish international Saúl on three-year deals. Sporting director Paulo Roberto said: "The team has to defend Spain’s European dominance and we will do all we can to win in the Elite round. The team is full of enthusiasm for the games in Poland because this trophy is important to us and to the city of Murcia."
Whereas Murcia are entering at this stage, the other trio came through the Main round last month. Chorzów and Beograd are familiar foes having both been involved in an Elite round group here last season. On that occasion Chorzów beat Beograd 3-2 on Matchday 2 but then saw a two-goal lead against Action 21 Charleroi slip as the Belgian side came back for a draw that took them through on goal difference. Beograd finished a point behind the leading pair in third.
Chorzów came through a tight Main round group, again as hosts, beating KMF Alfa Parf Skopje 3-0 and Hapoel Ironi Rishon Lezion 3-1, meaning they could afford to lose 4-3 to FC Mapid Minsk and pip the Belarussian team in a three-way tie also involving the Israeli pool winners. Beograd defeated Skövde AIK 5-3 and Ilves FS Tasmpere 3-2 so were through even before their 4-1 loss to FK Era-Pack Chrudim.
Gospić had a similarly difficult passage, as having been held by Iberia 2003 Tbilisi and KMN Puntar, a 5-2 win against CIP Deva on the final day gave the Group 5 hosts first place. Owner and chairman Josip Vrkljan, whose investment has attracted the likes of Nikola Tomičić, Mile Simeunović, Patrik Drndić and Brazilian duo Romário and Serginho, said: "We wanted to reach the Elite round and that's a success for us, but it's not over yet. ElPozo Murcia are clear favouritse in our group, but I think we can match Marbo Beograd and hosts Clearex. I am asking my players to win those matches. Lots of people come to watch us at every match. It's a kind of euphoria in the city. I hope we will make more progress."
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