Quarter-finals: Serbia-Ukraine, Portugal-Spain

The UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 quarter-finals start with a bang at Arena Belgrade on Monday as hosts Serbia play Ukraine before old rivals Spain and Portugal meet.

Spain face another meeting with neighbours Portugal
Spain face another meeting with neighbours Portugal ©Getty Images

The UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 quarter-finals begin on Monday with two well-poised fixtures as hosts Serbia play Ukraine and Portugal meet old nemeses Spain.

SUNDAY'S LAST GROUP RESULTS

Group C: Croatia 2-2 Russia
Russia survived a scare to win Group C ahead of Kazakhstan and eliminate Croatia.

Group D: Czech Republic 0-7 Italy
Holders Italy turned on the style to win the group, with Azerbaijan through in second.

MONDAY'S QUARTER_FINALS

Serbia's 3-1 win against Portugal on Saturday with two late goals ensured the hosts won Group A to the delight of another sell-out Arena Belgrade crowd. That meant they avoided Spain and face a Ukraine side beaten 4-1 by La Roja in the Group B decider.

The quarter-finals have been the limit for both teams since the expansion to a 12-nation format in 2010; Ukraine losing in all three and Serbia the first two before not qualifying in 2014. Ukraine were 2001 and 2003 runners-up, and semi-finalists two years later, but will have to face a passionate home crowd delighted so far with the performances of the likes of goalkeeper Miodrag Aksentijević, captain Marko Perić and Mladen Kocić.

Watch: Serbia beat Portugal
Watch: Serbia beat Portugal

Player to watch: Yevgen Rogachov (Ukraine) – His experience will be crucial if Ukraine are to hold their nerve.

Key number: 22,161 The total number to watch Serbia's two group games, a record.

Aca Kovačević, Serbia coach: "After my many, many years in futsal, here might finally be the time we reach a long-awaited semi-final. The most important thing is now that the players keep their feet on the ground, and that they recuperate and prepare well for Ukraine. I can't say much about Ukraine ... but I know already that Monday will be another big day for Serbian futsal."

Oleksandr Kosenko, Ukraine coach: "We lost to Spain due to our own mistakes. We have to analyse where we went wrong and put those mistakes right. When we used the flying goalkeeper against Spain, we conceded twice. Maybe I decided to use it too early; perhaps I ought to have waited. In this situation, it just didn't prove useful. Serbia will clearly have the home crowd behind them."

By losing to Serbia, despite Ricardinho's wondergoal, Portugal were forced into a showdown with neighbours Spain. History is on Spain's side; not only have they never failed to reach the semi-finals, but they have won 17 and lost just one of 23 meetings with Portugal, victories including the 2014 third-place play-off, 2010 final and an epic 2007 semi in Porto, where Portugal led 2-0 late on only to fall on penalties.

Spain will have captain Ortiz fit again after injury while Cardinal ends his two-game Portugal suspension. The man of the moment, Ricardinho, missed the 2010 final with Spain injured but is now playing at his very peak – and if Spain are to go two UEFA Futsal EUROs in a row without winning a title for the first time, the man from Madrid-based Inter FS will be the key.

Spain see off Ukraine
Spain see off Ukraine

Player to watch: Cardinal (Portugal) – Ricardinho's Inter team-mate takes on several club-mates in his first match of these finals after a two-game suspension.

Key number: 1 – Portugal's only win against Spain was a 3-2 friendly victory in Salamanca in September 2005.

Jorge Braz, Portugal coach: "We are used to saying 2016 would be an important year for Portuguese futsal. We were anxious to play Spain. I am glad, honestly. Portugal against Spain will honestly be a great match. If we want a large number of goals [for the spectators], that's the match we want. If it's earlier than the semi-finals or final, no problem."

João Matos, Portugal player: "We played well against Serbia and we will not let that defeat effect us in any possible way. I think that Spain have changed a bit compared with the past as they are now a more mobile, skilful and quick team. It will certainly be a very intense match and a good futsal spectacle. Ricardinho's goal against Serbia was just incredible and probably the best goal in the world. We're used to seeing that kind of magic in training and we expect some more against Spain."

José Venancio López, Spain coach: "We are improving with every match. We have to improve some small details, but I congratulate the players for their performances on and off the pitch. We are playing like a real team. They key thing is unity and playing as a team; that is the attitude of the players. In attack we have to read our opponents' strategy better and move the ball more quickly."

TUESDAY'S ACTION

Quarter-final 3: Russia v Azerbaijan (18.30)
Azerbaijan coach Tino Perez is reunited with several former charges at his old club FC Dynamo.

Quarter-final 4: Kazakhstan v Italy (21.00)
Debutants Kazakhstan tackle holders Italy.

THURSDAY'S SEMI-FINALS

Semi-final 1: Serbia/Ukraine v Russia/Azerbaijan (18.30)
Semi-final 2: Portugal/Spain v Kazakhstan/Italy (21.00)

All times CET

Now watch ...

Ricardinho's crazy goal


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