Finals debutants Turkey take on past winners Italy and Russia in Group C and have a mighty task in the Split-based section against two teams well capable of securing second titles.
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UEFA European Futsal Championship finals debutants Turkey take on past winers Italy and Russia in Group C in Split and have a mighty task in a section with two teams well capable of securing second titles. UEFA.com profiles the teams.
The last team other than Spain to win the European title in 2003, and the most recent nation from this continent to defeat the Spanish two years later, Italy fell in the quarter-finals in 2010 on penalties to the Czech Republic but are back among the favourites again. Roberto Menichelli, who took over not long before the last finals, led his team through 2011 unbeaten in 14 games though will be missing the experience of Edgar Bertoni in Croatia due to injury.
Best performance: winners 2003
Qualifying round: Latvia 6-1, Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-0, Slovenia 2-0 (Group 6 winners)
Key players: Marcio Forte, Vampeta, Saad Assis
Roberto Menichelli, coach: "In 2011 Italy had some excellent results and maintained a good position in the FIFA rankings. It is a positive period, but now a new season has started and we will have to see if the trend will continue to be upwards."
Russia took the first full UEFA European Futsal Championship title in 1999 but like Italy exited at the last-eight stage two years ago, although it was no disgrace to lose to Spain on penalties following a rare goalless result. There is a change this time as coach Sergei Skorovich is now full-time, having last month given up his other role in charge of 2008 UEFA Futsal Cup winners MFK Sinara Ekaterinburg. As usual Ekaterinburg and MFK Dinamo Moskva players dominate the squad and they are looking good having reached the final of the prestigious Grand Prix in Brazil last autumn.
Best performance: winners 1999
Qualifying: Finland 5-1, Serbia 3-0, Netherlands 2-0 (Group 2 winners)
Key players: Sergei Zuev (goalkeeper), Dmitri Prudnikov, Cirilo, Konstantin Maevski
Sergei Skorovich, coach: "A country and a team like ours should always aim for the highest goals, which is at least progressing to the final.
Just to be in the finals is a brilliant achievement for the team set up in December 2006 and coached by former Fenerbahçe SK man Ömer Kaner. They were the only side that began in the preliminary round to make it to Croatia, beating 2010 finalists Hungary and Belgium to qualify. Their squad, based largely in Belgian and Dutch clubs, have faced a steep learning curve in the last year with some tough friendlies, but a draw with Azerbaijan in the recent Baku tournament shows promise.
Best performance: first final tournament
Preliminary round: Montenegro 5-1, Switzerland 2-3, Moldova 4-2 (Group A winners)
Qualifying round: Hungary 3-2, Ukraine 2-12, Belgium 3-2 (Group 5 runners-up)
Key players: Cihan Özcan, Burak Yıldırım, Burak Köseoğlu, Aziz Sağlam
Ömer Kaner, coach: "I'm very happy just to be here at the European finals, and we will give our best; we will show that we can play futsal."