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UEFA Futsal EURO daily preview: Russia vs Slovakia, Poland vs Croatia

Russia look the team to beat in Group C but debutants Slovakia are aiming to cause a surprise while Poland face Croatia in the same section.

Robinho is ready for Russia's latest UEFA Futsal EURO title bid
Robinho is ready for Russia's latest UEFA Futsal EURO title bid UEFA via Getty Images

Russia look the team to beat in UEFA Futsal EURO 2022 Group C but debutants Slovakia hope to cause an upset to begin a day at the Ziggo Dome when Poland also face Croatia in the same section.

Where to watch Futsal EURO

Russia vs Slovakia (17:30 CET, Amsterdam)

2018: Russia take bronze
2018: Russia take bronze

Russia have been in so many finals, or at least earned bronze medals in tournaments, that it is odd to think that victory in the first full UEFA European Futsal Championship of 1999 remains their only major senior honour. However, the way they played at the World Cup, when a side inspired by the ageless Robinho and captain Sergei Abramov was only stopped in the quarter-final by holders Argentina in an epic shoot-out, suggests that they will be tough to beat as Sergei Skorovich looks for an elusive title after 13 years at the helm.

Slovakia are making their final tournament debut and their 7-1 loss to Russia in World Cup qualifying two years ago shows the size of their task. However, Tomáš Drahovský and Gabriel Rick pose a particular threat and Slovakia showed grit when needed in qualifying, especially against fast-improving Moldova.

Sergei Skorovich, Russia coach: "Expectations are very high and positive, and we have been looking forward to this tournament for a long time. We are always happy to participate in this tournament. We expect a great celebration at this event. If we talk about Slovakia, this is the first match, and it is always difficult. We have all prepared well and nobody comes here to lose. Everyone wants to win. The match will be difficult for both sides, but we want to show our best."

Marián Berky, Slovakia coach: "Russia are favourites in this match, they are the better team. But we will try to do well and maybe we can spring a surprise. It will be very important to be focused and try to score the chances we have."

Key stat: Russia have finished in the top three at the last four final tournaments.

Poland vs Croatia (20:30 CET, Amsterdam)

Futsal EURO: Great final goals
Futsal EURO: Great final goals

These teams also met in their group opener in 2001, Croatia winning 2-1. Those were the only points either side got in that tournament, and for the next decade, neither qualified again. Since reaching the semi-finals as 2012 hosts, Croatia have become a force to be reckoned with, and even if they missed out in 2018, they were particularly impressive in qualifying this time, particularly the 7-2 win in Ukraine. However, Luka Perić will miss the tournament after being diagnosed with angina while Tihomir Novak is an injury doubt against Poland.

Poland, oddly enough, only returned to the final tournament in 2018, and although they did not get out of a tough group, opened with a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Russia, and qualified for this event by holding Portugal 2-2 and winning an extraordinary decider 8-5 against the Czech Republic.

Błażej Korczyński, Poland coach: "We have to play fast, because we don't have the ability to play the way Croatia play. We don't have to play very long spells of possession, Croatia are better at that, but we have to play fast and look for different things. Croatia are a great team with very good players and with a lot of individual quality. Our strength is that we are a united group, and all the players give their all.

Marinko Mavrović, Croatia coach: "Poland are tough opponents. They are physically a strong team. I expect to see the Poland I know. Our goal in this tournament is to be in the next round. It doesn’t matter as first in our group, or as runners-up, but we want to be in the next round."

Key stat: Poland are seeking their first final tournament win.