UEFA Futsal EURO daily preview: Group A and B deciders
Friday, January 28, 2022
Four quarter-final spots are up for grabs – and all eight teams remain in at least mathematical contention – as Groups A and B end on Friday.
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A maximum four quarter-final spots are on offer – and all eight teams remain in at least mathematical contention – as UEFA Futsal EURO 2022 Groups A and B end on Friday.
We preview the action as the competitors in both Monday quarter-finals are set, with the winner of each group meeting the runners-up in the other.
Group B Live now
Kazakhstan vs Italy (17:30 CET, Groningen)
Kazakhstan came from behind three times to draw their opener against Slovenia 4-4 and then trailed twice to debutants Finland before running away with a 6-2 victory that took them clear at the top. A draw will be enough for Kazakhstan, who have reached the semis in both their previous Futsal EURO finals, and they could even afford to lose if Slovenia do not win.
Italy drew 3-3 with Finland and 2-2 with Slovenia, coming from behind each time and pushing hard at the end for winners. Victory would take them through and avoid a second straight group exit, and also avenge their last knockout game, a 5-2 quarter-final loss to Kazakhstan in 2016. Kazakhstan's Albert Akbalikov and Italy's Eduardo Alano are both suspended.
Kaká, Kazakhstan coach: "We know that a draw is enough to get us through to the next stage but you cannot start a match thinking that way as it is the first step towards defeat. We will play to win and in the end we will see what is better for us. Italy always had world class players and in order to face them you need to know how to stop those players. Like our players they have their strenghts and weaknesses."
Massimiliano Bellarte, Italy coach: "I wanted badly to win our fist two matches because the players wanted it badly. I only know one way to do things well and that is to play the game. And to play the game means controlling the ball most of the time. We face a team that is in the top four of the world and it will be difficult to do it but we will try our best."
Key stat: Italy had never failed to finish among the top eight in a Futsal EURO until their group exit at the hands of hosts Slovenia in 2018.
Slovenia vs Finland (17:30 CET, Amsterdam)
Slovenia's two draws have left them knowing a win would definitely take them to a third quarter-final in four editions. Even a draw will be enough if Italy lose, while Slovenia could also progress on goals scored if both games end all square.
Finland were within sight of victory in their opener against Italy before a late equaliser and dared to dream against Kazakhstan when they deservedly led 2-1 in the second half. A win would keep their debut campaign going into the knockouts unless Kazakhstan lose, which would mean Finland missing out on second place on head-to-head.
Tomislav Horvat, Slovenia coach: “I expect Finland to play as they have before, and how they played in qualifying, They are quick. Aggressive and tough in one-on-ones. We want to make sure they don’t get the opportunity for counterattacks. The squad is in a positive mood, we saw that against Italy when things went against us, the team got together, and it will be the same against Finland. There are no injuries to report.”
Mićo Martić, Finland coach: “I believe Slovenia have played the best in our group, they have played two wonderful matches, only just missing out on winning and having already qualified so now they need to beat us to go through. If we give a bit more than in the first two matches then we have a chance of winning, so we have the resources to be better in difficult moments. But the players need to find those qualities from within themselves and I’m sure my players have the potential to be competitive against the best team in our group so far, Slovenia."
Key stat: These teams last met in a January 2017 friendly, Denis Totošković scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 Slovenia win.
Group A Live now
Ukraine vs Portugal (20:30 CET, Groningen)
Holders Portugal have started steadily rather than spectacularly, but that was also the case in last year's FIFA Futsal World Cup, where they ended up with the trophy. After beating Serbia 4-2 and the Netherlands 4-1, the only way they can go out is if they lose by six goals or more and the hosts win.
Ukraine lost 3-2 to the Netherlands in their opener but roared back on Sunday when they stunned Serbia 6-1. Another victory will take them through, and a draw would be enough if the Dutch lose. Even if Ukraine are defeated, they will go through if the Netherlands are beaten by eight goals or fewer.
Oleksandr Kosenko, Ukraine coach: "We all know that Portugal are very strong and that they are the current European and world champions. They are really that good and have players capable of deciding a match on their own but we will work hard in order to beat them and show that we are also a strong team. I think everybody knows we don’t have a full squad to play tomorrow but the available players are all OK. We had to change our training process because of all the players who are missing but it was good to have time to rest and to prepare this match. We will do our best to win and make our fans happy.”
Jorge Braz, Portugal coach: "We always play to win and this match will not be an exception. Nevertheless, we know that the Ukraine are an opponent who will give everything to win in order to qualify for the next stage. We are talking about a team used to getting through the group stage, so we know it's going to be a tough game. Above all, we have to be Portugal. We have to play with our dynamics, to complicate Ukraine's task defensively and, above all, we cannot allow them anything."
Key stat: Ukraine have only failed to get out of the group stage once in their nine previous finals appearances – in 2007, the last eight-team tournament.
Netherlands vs Serbia (20:30 CET, Amsterdam)
The hosts have performed well in both games so far and when tickets went on sale on Wednesday for this game, they sold out instantly. A win is enough for the Netherlands unless Ukraine win by between one and five goals. A Dutch draw would mean progress unless Ukraine win, but the hosts will be out if they lose.
Serbia, depleted by pre-tournament injuries that have deprived them in particular of Jovan Lazarević and Slobodan Rajčević (who both could return today) have not been able to show the level of performance they displayed in reaching the World Cup round of 16, where they pushed Portugal to extra time. Only a nine-goal win, and a Ukraine loss, can take Serbia into the quarter-finals.
Max Tjaden, Netherlands coach: "The spirit is high. A great spirit in the team. A great confidence, so we are ready, we are prepared. We have to be prepared – we say be prepared or be prepared to fail. Of course [it’s great to have fans back]. Especially our families, but also friends, futsal fans from Netherlands, and maybe also from across Europe. For both teams it’s good they are there. Serbia, in spite of their results here, are a great team with great individual players."
Dejan Majes, Serbia coach: "It will be a tough game. We are in a situation where we have lost two games and we need a win. We want to win and show our fans what we can do as a squad. We need to show that Ukraine was a bad day for us. Our first goal is to win, we will worry about the margin later. We will take it goal by goal. We know the Netherlands will have support but there will also have support for our team. We want to show that futsal in our country is growing and that our World Cup performance was no fluke.”
Key stat: Netherlands are aiming to avoid becoming only the fourth Futsal EURO hosts to go out in the group stage after Belgium (2014), Hungary (2010) and the Czech Republic (2005).