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UEFA Futsal Cup hosts Iberia Star Tbilisi and holders FC Barcelona go head to head on Sunday – but only for third place.
Iberia Star attracted a crowd of 7,200 for their debut finals match on Friday but went down 5-2 to MFK Dinamo. Then Barcelona, who won on their bow last season and had not lost any of their previous 11 European games, were beaten 5-4 by Kairat Almaty to lose their grip on the title.
Though Iberia Star's 50th European fixture is not the final they had hoped for, hosting Georgia's first UEFA event and making this stage after 12 seasons of trying is some consolation. They captured the imagination of the Tbilisi public having beaten 2010 winners SL Benfica in the elite round here to qualify.
"Our supporters are amazing," defender Fuste said. "It was at home, we did an excellent job, it was excellent motivation for us to strengthen more for next year so that we can do it, first get to the final then win it."
For Barcelona, who wanted to become only the second team to successfully defend the title, the disappointment is obvious, as for only the third time in the 12-season history of the UEFA Futsal Cup there is no Spanish finalist. Winger Sergio Lozano pledged to end the tournament on a high, and then concentrate on completing the domestic treble having already won the Spanish Futsal Cup, made the 11 May Copa del Rey final against Murcia FS and finished top of the regular season league table going into the play-offs.
"We are defending our colours, which are very important to us, so you have to give 100% in every game," Lozano said. "We were not able to make the final but we must try to finish in the best possible manner. Then we will go to Barcelona and think about the final of the Copa del Rey."
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