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Main event to decide futsal finalists

Eight of the 12 Antwerp finalists will be known by next Saturday when the main round of qualifying, which begins on Wednesday, ends, holders Spain among those staging a group.

Spain are aiming for a fifth straight title
Spain are aiming for a fifth straight title ©Sportsfile

Eight of the 12 finalists at UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 will be known next week when the main round of qualifying runs from Wednesday to Saturday.

In all, seven four-team mini-tournaments will run in Italy, Slovakia, Latvia, Spain, Serbia, the Netherlands and Turkey. The seven group winners progress to the final tournament in Antwerp from 28 January to 8 February, where they join hosts Belgium. The seven runners-up and best third-placed team enter the play-offs on 17 and 24 September to decide the last four qualifiers.

Holders Spain will begin their bid for a fifth straight European title and their opponents include Croatia, who made the semi-finals as hosts last year, and Sweden, the sole tournament debutants to emerge from January's preliminary round. Also at this stage for the first time are England, in the only group with three teams that all qualified in 2012 – Ukraine, Slovenia and Turkey.

Russia, so close to taking the title from Spain for the second time last year, go to Latvia and also play 2012 quarter-finalists Romania and Kazakhstan, while the only other former winners, Italy, welcome Hungary, Finland and Montenegro to Bari. Portugal and 2016 finals hosts Serbia, who both fell in the last eight in Croatia, take on Poland and Greece in Group 5. Regular opponents the Netherlands and the Czech Republic meet Belarus and Georgia in Rotterdam.

Main round: 27-30 March
Group 1 (Bari): Italy*, Hungary, Finland, Montenegro

Group 2 (Bratislava): Azerbaijan, Slovakia*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway

Group 3 (Jelgava): Russia, Romania, Kazakhstan, Latvia*

Group 4 (Aguilas): Spain*, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Sweden

Group 5 (Zrenjanin): Portugal, Serbia*, Poland, Greece

Group 6 (Rotterdam): Czech Republic, Belarus, Netherlands*, Georgia

Group 7 (Erzurum): Ukraine, Slovenia, Turkey*, England