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Benfica and Sporting closely matched in Portugal

SL Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal go into the winter break locked in a fascinating league tussle but there are contrasting domestic fortunes for the other two finalists.

Benfica defeated Sporting 4-2 a few days after both reached the UEFA Futsal Cup finals
Benfica defeated Sporting 4-2 a few days after both reached the UEFA Futsal Cup finals ©Sporting Clube de Portugal

UEFA Futsal Cup holders SL Benfica and fellow finalists Sporting Clube de Portugal go into the domestic winter break locked in a fascinating league tussle while Kairat Almaty are on course for another title in Kazakhstan but ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 are not having things their own way in Italy.

The top eight finishers in Portugal all go into the play-offs but last year Sporting made the most of the top seeding for finishing first to take the domestic title off Benfica in the final. However, Sporting find themselves three points adrift of both Benfica and CF Os Belenenses, largely down to a 4-2 loss at the Eagles a few days after both had clinched their place in the four-team UEFA Futsal Cup showpiece in late April. That is the only defeat for any of the top three with Belenenses having drawn with both Benfica and Sporting.

Kairat are also unbeaten with a seven-point lead over Tulpar Karagandy in the four-team Kazakhstan championship. Each team takes part in seven rounds of competition where they play the other three. So far three of those rounds are complete with the fourth beginning on 13 January; Kairat are aiming for an eighth straight title.

The fourth of the finalists, European debutants Montesilvano, lie only sixth in Serie A1 following Friday's 3-0 home defeat by Marca Futsal, who are 11 points clear of the reigning champions and five ahead of TSC Lazio C/5. The top eight will qualify for the play-offs; Montesilvano are currently five points ahead of Promomedia Sport Five in ninth.

For the first time since the UEFA Futsal Cup began in 2001/02, neither Spain nor Russia will provide at least one finalist between them and the race is on in each country to earn a berth for next season. Spain also ends in an eight-team play-off and at the break reigning champions ElPozo Murcia FS, beaten to the European finals by Sporting, are on top through lead Lobelle de Santiago FS on goals scored with FC Barcelona two points behind. Sole three-time UEFA Futsal Cup winners Interviú FS are one point further back.

Unbeaten MFK Dinamo Moskva lead fellow former European champions MFK Sinara Ekaterinburg by five points in the Russian Super League, which is played as a straight season with, for the second year, 50-minute matches. The key result was on 10 December when Dinamo secured a 3-2 win against an Ekaterinburg side aiming for a third straight title having fallen to Montesilvano in the UEFA Futsal Cup elite round. The finals venue will be selected in January with the last-four draw to follow.

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