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Since Playas de Castellón FS won the first two UEFA Futsal Cups a decade ago no side has successfully defended the trophy – but FC Barcelona hope to move to within a game of doing so when they face Kairat Almaty in the second semi-final in Tbilisi on Friday.
Barcelona lifted the trophy as hosts a year ago in Lleida in their debut campaign and in 11 European matches have won ten and drawn just once. Kairat have vastly more UEFA competition experience yet have lost all four of their previous semi-finals.
Barcelona coach Marc Carmona, who has only one injury doubt in the shape of Ari, is keen to maintain the rise of a club whose futsal section won their first Spanish title as recently as 2011. "In these past two and a half years the team has achieved many goals and now has the opportunity to win a second UEFA Futsal Cup in a row," he said.
"We are conscious of how difficult that will be but we are going to try to do it. We're very happy with the way we qualified. I said beforehand, though, that the most important thing is how we compete in the final tournament."
As for Kairat, Carmona added: "We have tried to prepare as well as possible. We know their squad, their players. They have some players with a lot of experience, some European champions and others who have played in the Spanish Liga. They are a very competitive team."
Since the elite round late last year, Kairat have changed coach with former player Cacau now at the helm. "Returning to Kairat is the best thing that God has given me this year – because this club is like a family to me and I try to pass that on to our Brazilian players," he said.
"I understand the responsibility I have on my shoulders but I am ready for it. Otherwise I would tell the president that I have no power to help. I am sure we will perform decently and be worthy representatives of not only Kairat but the whole of Kazakhstan."
Cacau, who has Betão – a 2009 winner with Interviú Madrid – fit after recent injury, laid out their strategy. "We plan to make a strong rally in the last five to seven minutes of the match," he said. "Of course we have some secrets but I wouldn't like to reveal them. I also want to underline that Barça are very strong in dead-ball situations and we are ready for that."
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