UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 starts in Croatia tonight and excitement is growing in the host cities of Split and Zagreb as 11 nations challenge perennial champions Spain for their crown.
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UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 begins in Croatia tonight and UEFA.com has full coverage from Split and Zagreb.
Twelve teams will be competing for the trophy, and first to kick off at 19.00CET at the Zagreb Arena are Spain, starting their bid for a fourth straight European title against Slovenia in Group B, which also involves Ukraine. Then, at 21.00, Split's Spaladium Arena is the setting as hosts Croatia challenge Romania in Group A, with 2010 bronze medallists the Czech Republic then to meet both; like Ukraine they play their first game on Thursday.
Before that, on Wednesday, 2003 winners Italy take on debutants Turkey in Split to launch Group C, also containing Russia. That evening in Zagreb there is a rematch of the 2010 semi-final – Portugal against Azerbaijan – in a tough Group D completed by Serbia, who are the last to get going on Friday.
UEFA.com is at both venues and will provide a preview, report and reaction from every game. Our new-look MatchCentre has instant updates and statistics, plus the latest comments from our team in the arenas.
Before that you candownload the 76-page tournament programme, which boasts in-depth features on all 12 teams, venue guides and interviews with the tournament's biggest names. You can also read and watch our previews of the four pools: Group A, Group B, Group C and Group D, which are among the many features on our tournament homepage.
In contrast to Zagreb, which had a dusting of snow over the weekend, the winter sun made for a stunning day in Split on Monday. The vibe in the opening media conference was equally positive, as Croatia coach Mato Stanković spoke of his desire to reward the passionate Split fans for creating what he is sure will be an excellent atmosphere.
"We are a very young team and I hope the pressure and the home crowd will give us the advantage and that we'll provide the result that everyone in Croatia expects from us," said Stanković, whose side are likely to line up in front of a healthy crowd in the Spaladium Arena.
Romania coach Sito Rivera added: "I hope a lot of people come to see the games. I know my players very well, many of them have played in the UEFA Futsal Cup with [City'Us] Târgu Mureş and Győri [ETO FC]. We will play well and are focused – the atmosphere will not be a problem for us."