Futsal finalists face friendly tests

Seven of the eight UEFA European Futsal Championship finalists are in friendly action over the next week with Spain under a new coach and hosts Portugal playing Brazil.

The countdown to the 2007 UEFA European Futsal Championship from 16-25 November in Porto begins really ticking next week as several of the eight finalists play their first friendlies of the season.

Spain games
Much interest will be on holders Spain, who face Uzbekistan, on Monday and Tuesday in Caravaca de la Cruz and Alcantarilla, in their first matches since the departure earlier this month of long-time coach Javier Lozano and his replacement by José Venancio. The new man in charge has named a familiar squad containing key players from the Lozano era including goalkeeper Luis Amado, Kike, Daniel, Andreu and Javi Rodríguez.

Italian trials
Spain’s opening group stage opponents in Porto, Ukraine, are also in action on Monday and Tuesday as they take on Latvia in Lvov. Another of the teams in Group B, Serbia, meet fellow finalists Italy in Bologna on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. The Azzurri also take on Poland on Monday evening before meeting Serbia on Tuesday with coach Alessandro Nuccorini testing out a 26-strong squad, which must be cut to 14 for the finals.

Portugal play Brazil
EURO hosts Portugal will start their Group A fixtures against Italy, and they are also in action this week against a Brazil team made up of Spanish-based players on Tuesday and Wednesday. The following day first-time finalists Romania take on Geogia in Bazau. Meanwhile, between next Friday and Sunday, the Czech Republic welcome Slovakia and Poland to Hodonin for a three-team tournament, with games at both senior and Under-21 level.