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Italy face 'difficult task' says Menichelli

Italy have finished second or third at six major tournaments since their 2003 European triumph and coach Roberto Menichelli knows ending their title wait will not be easy.

Italy celebrate after their recent 5-0 friendly defeat of Romania
Italy celebrate after their recent 5-0 friendly defeat of Romania ©Foto Cassella/Divisione Calcio a 5

Since winning the 2003 UEFA European Futsal Championship on home soil, Italy have two major final appearances and four bronze medals to their name, without adding another title at continental or FIFA Futsal World Cup level. 

They aim to put that right in Antwerp, starting next Wednesday when they kick off Group C against Slovenia, before later facing Azerbaijan. Roberto Menichelli, coach since 2009, believes they have a "difficult task ahead" but remains confident.

UEFA.com: What do you think of your group?

Roberto Menichelli: Well, we are at the finals of the EURO, so all the teams have their value. And if you look at our group, I have to say it is a very difficult one as we have to play Azerbaijan and Slovenia, two teams who qualified directly from their group for these finals. So they are strong sides and we have to be careful.

Apart from their individual strengths, which both teams have, I think you can say they are both strong as a team, as they have shown in recent years. So we have to be careful – Italy have a difficult task ahead in this group.

UEFA.com: Can Italy end their 11-year wait for a major title?

Menichelli: We did well last season, and at the last EURO we managed to win the bronze medal. At the [2012] World Cup we also finished third in the end, with only Spain and Brazil ahead of us. So we have had a pretty positive run over recent years. We have to keep up that standard, which will probably be the most difficult task, but we are confident about this competition.

UEFA.com: Who are your main rivals for the crown?

Menichelli: I would say, as usual, Spain because of their history and their real strength. Then there is Russia, who are a big team, and also Portugal. They are the best teams in Europe.

UEFA.com: Who can surprise us?

Menichelli: I think this EURO is pretty even. I think it will be a great EURO, with pretty even teams, but also with a few sides who have always a say because of their history and tradition.

UEFA.com: How can Belgium benefit from hosting this tournament?

Menichelli: I think it's a great opportunity. It's the first time they've staged a EURO in futsal. There is a good infrastructure and I have seen everything needed to stage a perfect EURO.