For the first time Marca Futsal are in the UEFA Futsal Cup finals but there is a bitter-sweet feeling as they approach Friday's last-four encounter in Lleida with 2007 winners MFK Dinamo Moskva.
The Italian team are without 40-year-old goalkeeper Alexandre Feller because of personal reasons, and his experience and personality, as well as his ability, would have been invaluable against a Dinamo side featuring several players who featured in three consecutive finals for the club, culminating in their triumph in Murcia five seasons ago.
Marca coach Tiago Polido, himself eight years Feller's junior, said: "It's very difficult for us but much more for him after such a long career not to be here in this competition. We want to see if we can give him a present. It's one more motivational reason but motivation is inside you, the motivation of champions, character.
"An opportunity like this only happens once in a lifetime and that has to be the motivation and, of course, we want to give a present to someone who we love so much. This year has been very difficult, although good. We have come through many troubles and made many sacrifices."
Not only is there contrasting experience between the clubs – Dinamo are preparing for their sixth semi-final, Marca are in their debut campaign – but also the trainers. Although Polido has coached for many years in several countries despite his young age, Dinamo's Faustino Pérez won the first two editions of the UEFA Futsal Cup, in 2002 and 2003, with Spain's Playas de Castellón FS.
However, Pérez said: "I start from zero, here that experience does not count. This is a different competition, in different circumstances.
My experience comes from the 'black and white era', from many years ago. I feel that I am new to this competition and that is the message I am trying to give to my players."
Missing the man who scored the goal that clinched the 2007 title, Pula, through suspension, Pérez pointed out that Dinamo are making a return to the finals after a three-year absence, while two of the Marca team – Adriano Foglia and Baptistella – won the trophy last season with ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5.
Pérez said. "We want to use our experience only as a motivation for being here after such a long time. For some of us it's three years, seven years, nine years – as in my case – to enjoy this match, doing things well."
Polido concluded: "In these kind of games, the winners are the ones who makes fewer mistakes and we'll try to do that against a team that has incredible quality, who come from a very competitive league and have experienced players from their national teams.
"We are going to try to put Dinamo in trouble, and when we can't we will be a humble team.
These competitions, above all, are not about tactics but it is at the emotional level that you win."
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