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UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 Group C preview

UEFA.com profiles Group C rivals Italy, champions in 2003, Azerbaijan, semi-finalists four years ago, and a Slovenia side who have lost every finals game they have played.

UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 Group C preview
UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 Group C preview ©UEFA.com

All three teams in UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 Group C qualified without recourse to the play-offs but have very different finals records. Italy took the trophy in 2003, Azerbaijan made the semis at the first attempt four years ago but Slovenia have lost every final tournament game they have played. UEFA.com profiles the contenders; to hear from them click on the video player above.

Group fixtures

Friendly results

Only once knocked out before the semi-finals – in 2010 – Italy are always among the favourites, having finished runners-up in 2007 as well as winners four years earlier as hosts. They were also UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 and 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup bronze medallists and cruised through qualifying yet again.

Best performance: winners 2003

Qualifying: Finland 5-1, Montenegro 6-0, Hungary 9-1 (Group 1 winners)

Key players: Stefano Mammarella (goalkeeper), Gabriel Lima, Saad Assis

Roberto Menichelli, coach: "We have had a pretty positive run over recent years. We have to maintain that level, which will probably be the most difficult thing, but we are confident about this competition."

After a gradual rise, Azerbaijan's breakthrough came when making it to the UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 semi-finals under experienced coach Alesio. Qualification was achieved again in 2012, their campaign ended by a sensational 9-8 loss to Serbia, and this time with a dramatic comeback against Slovakia. However, familiar figures like goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankin and charismatic pivot Serjão have bowed out.

Best performance: fourth place 2010

Qualifying: Norway 6-0, Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-2, Slovakia 2-1 (Group 2 winners)

Key players: Vitaliy Borisov, Biro Jade, Felipe

Having qualified just once before 2010, Slovenia are now in their third consecutive finals, though they are yet to register a point. Their change of fortunes has come under Andrej Dobovičnik – since the former player took charge in 2005 – with a crop of players rightly considered their nation's futsal golden generation.

Best performance: group stage 2003, 2010, 2013

Qualifying: Turkey 5-3, Ukraine 8-3, England 5-2 (Group 7 winners)

Key players: Benjamin Melink, Rajko Uršič, Kristjan Čujec

Andrej Dobovičnik, coach: "Italy are favourites in our group. They are our neighbours and we know their league. We are not throwing sand in our eyes, but I am confident the boys and I will do the best we can – we will try to take our chances. We have also watched Azerbaijan, we have some videos of their matches. They are quite a unique team, but like I said, we will try to take our chance and try to make our breakthrough."