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Araz main threat to Barcelona

Debutants FC Barcelona have high hopes of winning Group B as hosts but 2010 bronze-medallists Araz Naxçivan present a tough challenge alongside FK EP Chrudim and Club Futsal Eindhoven.

Barcelona celebrate during their 12-0 main round defeat of Nikars Riga
Barcelona celebrate during their 12-0 main round defeat of Nikars Riga ©Andrejs Vorobjovs

Araz Naxçivan (AZE)
Araz Naxçivan were founded in 2004 and the following year took the first of what is now seven Azerbaijan titles in a row, and in 2009/10 took UEFA Futsal Cup bronze with a team based around the national squad that were also UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 semi-finalists. Despite losing such key figures as Biro Jade and Serjão, Araz are still ambitious and believe they can outdo Barcelona. Key man Vitaliy Borisov said: "Barça in futsal are almost the same as Barça in football. They may be stronger than us, but we will do our best to beat the odds. We must try to score as many as possible against the two other teams and try not to lose against Barça."

Main Round: Bye

Key Players: Andrey Tveryankin, Vitaliy Borisov, Felipe Ribeiro

FC Barcelona (ESP, hosts)
Last season Barcelona achieved a spectacular treble of Liga, League Cup and Copa del Rey – the first time they had won any of the three titles. Marc Carmona's side began the 2011/12 campaign with hopes of winning all five trophies on offer, however, in the first – the Spanish Super Cup - they fell to Interviú Madrid. Nevertheless, they are unbeaten at the top of the Liga and made a fine European debut in the main round. "Araz have a good side with some stand-out players," the coach said. "The opponents in our way will be a lot harder than those we met in the last phase and have demonstrated that by getting this far."

Main round: KMF Leotar Trebinje 9-0, Győri ETO FC 8-2, FK Nikars Riga 12-0 (Group 2 winners)

Key players: Fernandao, Jordi Torras, Wilde, Sergio Lozano, Javi Rodríguez

FK EP Chrudim (CZE)
Chrudim, winners of seven of the last eight Czech titles, have fallen at this stage four times but have something of a hoodoo against Spanish clubs, having lost 3-1 to ElPozo Murcia FS last year and 5-1 against Interviú in 2009. With five Brazilians in the squad including the 40-year-old player-coach Cacau, they are well prepared for Barcelona‘s playing style, though will be without Czech Republic captain Lukáš Rešetár after he suffered a leg break at last month's Grand Prix in Brazil. "Barcelona are one of the best sides in the world, but we were able to play an even game against the Spanish champions last year," said Chrudim club manager František Tichý.

Main round: Vegakameratene 6-2, MFC Real Chatelineau 2-4, Akademia FC Pniewy 5-2 (Group 4 runners-up)

Key players: Roman Mareš, Michal Mareš, Max

Club Futsal Eindhoven (NED)
Former by a merger in 2008, Eindhoven did their first Dutch double last season and also won the Super Cup, while Karim Bali was elected player of the year. Third so far this year having lost their first game and won six since, they are one of only two survivors at this stage from the initial preliminary round having beaten the very experienced Athina '90 Athens. "The guys did fantastically in qualifying, so I am very satisfied we have come this far," coach Carmelo Nieddu said. "The guys were eager to go to the elite round, and they proved to be worth it. We have got to be realistic now, every group has four top teams. But as a club we can be proud."

Preliminary round: Istanbul Üniversitesi SK 7-3, Excess RP Bidnija 8-2, KMF Zelezarec Skopje 7-4 (Group F winners)

Main round: MFK Dinamo Moskva 5-0 (forfeit), KMN Svea Lesna Litija 2-5, Athina '90 Athens 10-3 (Group 1 winners)

Key players: Adil Zouthane, Najib El Allouchi, Karim Bali


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