Russia and Portugal predict Group B goals
Friday, 31 January 2014
Russia and Portugal showed mutual respect ahead of their Group B decider with quarter-final spots assured, both coaches and Ricardinho predicting an entertaining encounter.
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The last two beaten UEFA Futsal EURO finalists, Russia and Portugal, know their progress from Group B is assured before their Saturday encounter in Antwerp.
Russia opened the tournament with a 7-1 defeat of the Netherlands on Tuesday, two days before Portugal beat the Dutch 5-0. They last met competitively when Russia edged Portugal 3-2 in Porto for UEFA Futsal EURO 2007 bronze – with four of the five scorers in their 2014 squads – and the mutual respect of both coaches is clear.
"Portugal are one of the favourites for every tournament," Russia's Sergei Skorovich told UEFA.com, while opposite number Jorge Braz, welcoming back Arnaldo from suspension, said: "Russia need no introduction. They have a very, very strong team, including some of the best players in the world.
"They have an unbelievable number of options when it comes to players for all positions and they also feature a very competitive league. They will give us a lot of difficulties, but these are the type of matches that we like and that make us grow as a team."
Still, Skorovich saw some weaknesses in Portugal on Thursday. "They felt a bit uncomfortable at the beginning of [the Netherlands] match. However, they are a very strong team," he said. "We will do our best to play an attractive game and to score as many goals as possible. Portugal will try to do the same, I am pretty sure of that."
Bruno Coelho struck twice in the closing stages on Thursday and he is keen on another win that will allow Portugal to top the section. "Russia represent a completely different test for us because we are talking about a team with a lot of experience and quality players," he said. "We approach each match with the same objective: to win and play well. On Saturday that will be the case once again and I just hope we can give further joy to our amazing fans."
Ricardinho, into his stride straight away by setting up both of Coelho's strikes, added: "We have already achieved our first goal, which was to qualify for the knockout stages, but that doesn't mean we don't want to beat Russia. We always play to win.
"We are well aware that we have a tough mission ahead, especially because Russia are even stronger now with the new players they have in their squad, but if we show the same commitment and team spirit that we had against the Netherlands then I'm confident we can get a result. Furthermore, I'm sure we can only get better as the tournament advances."