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UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 preview: Group B

Published: Wednesday 25 January 2012, 13.27CET
Spain were not the team two-time runners-up Ukraine or emerging force Slovenia wanted in the UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 draw but that is who they will face in Zagreb-based Group B.
by Paul Saffer

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Published: Wednesday 25 January 2012, 13.27CET

UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 preview: Group B

Spain were not the team two-time runners-up Ukraine or emerging force Slovenia wanted in the UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 draw but that is who they will face in Zagreb-based Group B.

Aiming for a fourth straight title and unbeaten by European opposition since 2005, Spain were not the team two-time runners-up Ukraine or emerging force Slovenia wanted in the UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 draw, but that is who they will face in Zagreb-based Group B. UEFA.com profiles the contenders for the two quarter-final berths on offer. Click on the video to hear from the coaches.

Group fixtures

Friendly results

SPAIN
With five European titles and two FIFA Futsal World Cups under their belts, Spain start every continental championship as clear favourites and their recent form has done nothing to change that. Although stalwarts like Javi Rodríguez and Daniel retired after the 2010 victory, the emergence of Pola, and Rafa Usín combined with the experience of goalkeeper Luis Amada and captain Kike have ensured José Venancio López's team remain a cut above.

Best performance: winners 1996, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2010

Qualifying: France 4-0, Kazakhstan 5-0, Azerbaijan 8-3 (Group 1 winners)

Key players: Luis Amado (goalkeeper), Kike, Álvaro

José Venancio López, coach: "I think Portugal, Italy and Russia are the favourites along with Spain, but it's also possible we'll see some surprises."

UKRAINE
Ukraine experieneced a dip after reaching their second straight final in 2003 but Gennadiy Lysenchuk – coach since the team's foundation 18 years ago – has gradually brought through a new generation capable of emulating past achievements. That has been proved by their results in recent months with only one loss in 13 games. The most recent of those matches resulted in victories against Turkey, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan to win the Baku International tournament.

Best performance: runners-up 2001, 2003

Qualifying: Belgium 4-3, Turkey 12-2, Hungary 4-1 (Group 5 winners)

Key players: Yevgen Rogachov, Valeriy Legchanov, Serhiy Cheporniuk

Gennadiy Lysenchuk, coach: "I think we will reach the semi-finals and win one of the medals. Certainly, we would like to win gold."

SLOVENIA
This is a daunting group for Slovenia, who have only qualified twice, and have yet to win in five finals games. However, the short distance to Zagreb mean they should have some backing from the stands in the Croatian capital, and Slovenia are growing in stature, having given tough games to Russia, Italy and Spain of late - they lost away friendly games against the holders 3-0 and 2-1 back in October.

Best performance: group stage 2003, 2010

Qualifying: Bosnia and Herzegovina 5-1, Latvia 4-3, Italy 0-2 (Group 6 runners-up)

Key players: Benjamin Melink, Rajko Uršič

Andrej Dobovičnik, coach: "The fans can give that additional strength, that additional motivation to the players; they can lift them to play above their abilities, and I hope we will spring a surprise together."

Last updated: 29/10/12 14.41CET

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