FC Barcelona are aiming to make it through the elite round once again, but Group A hosts FK EP Chrudim have other ideas, as do City'US Târgu Mureş and Lokomotiv Kharkiv.
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FC Barcelona (ESP)
Champions as hosts in their debut European season of 2011/12, Barcelona will look to recover from defeat by eventual winners Kairat Almaty in the semi-finals last April in Tblisi. Despite that setback, Marc Carmona's side retained the Spanish title and have promoted youth-team players Ferran Plana and Alejandro Constantino Viñas. Club captain and influential voice in the dressing room, Torras, said: "We know each other very well and you can be certain that we want to win. Every player here is willing to give his all for his team-mates. The squad has not changed [in terms of personnel] and each of us knowing exactly how the team plays is something to take into account. Ambition is the best asset of this side, however, if we don't think as a team, we are nothing."
Main round: bye
Key players: Fernandao, Torras, Wilde, Sergio Lozano
FK EP Chrudim (CZE, hosts)
In the elite round for the sixth time, Chrudim sealed their ninth Czech title last season with a perfect record. Coach Cacau left to lead Kairat to victory in Tbilisi but they have an experienced replacement in Spain's former FIFA Futsal World Cup winner Daniel. "The team is well-balanced with experienced and ambitious young players," he said. "They have big ambitions which suits me. We would like to fulfil our dreams in the UEFA Futsal Cup."
His only major addition is Brazilian goalkeeper Olinha while these matches have been moved to Pardubice with the plan to break the Czech futsal attendance record. Experienced forward Lukáš Rešetár said: "Everybody talks about Barcelona, but it is necessary to realise that all the teams in our group are strong and will be hungry to succeed. There are three very demanding games in front of us."
Main round: Baku United FC 3-3, FC Litija 5-4, AC Omonia Nicosia 5-0 (Group 4 winners)
Key players: Lukáš Rešetár, Roman Mareš, Max
City'US Târgu Mureş (ROU)
After four straight Romanian doubles, Târgu Mureş are now facing strong challenges from leaders FC Odorheiu Secuiesc and FC Deva, not unconnected to the departures of international László Klein, Vlad Iancu, Robert Lupu, Florin Robert Matei and Cristian Matei. Coach Kacso Endre said: "It is hard, because obviously we don't have the same team as last year, when we competed with dignity in Europe, but I have faith in the ones who stayed and in those who were promoted from our second team."
Romania regulars Dumitru Stoica, Cosmin Gherman, Ion Al-Ioani and Vlad Ignat remain, while Endre added: "We will play in the toughest possible group, in which certain favourites are FC Barcelona. Last year we beat FK Chrudim and if we beat them in the first match, we will have a chance."
Main round: Châtelineau Futsal 6-6, Athina '90 7-6, Araz Naxçivan 3-3 (Group 6 runners-up)
Key players: Dumitru Stoica, Cosmin Gherman, Ion Al-Ioani
Lokomotiv Kharkov (UKR)
Long-time coach Yevgen Ryvkin led Lokomotiv to their first title last season and now also leads the national team, takinging them to UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 with a squad based around his club, among them brothers Yevgen and Dmytro Klochko, and Oleksandr and Dmytro Sorokin, with whom he has worked since their childhood in the academy. They are all now in the national squad with goalkeepers Dmytro Lytvynenko and Yevgen Ivanyak, defender Mykola Bilotserkivets and forwards Serhiy Zhurba and Yevgen Siryi. "It is difficult to combine work in the club and the national team," Ryvkin said. "Not only do Lokomotiv players not have time to rest but me as well. However, the most important thing is that all this is very interesting to us. We want to achieve the maximum in every match. I hope that we will fulfil our fans' hopes in the elite round."
Main round: Tulpar Karagandy 2-2, Sporting Club de Paris 4-6, Marca Futsal 4-1 (Group 3 runners-up)
Key players: Yevgen Ivanyak, Dmytro Klochko, Dmytro Sorokin