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Sporting hope for home comforts

Sporting Clube de Portugal have never failed to win an elite round section at home, but Győri ETO FC, 2010 bronze-medallists Araz Naxçivan and CF Eindhoven have other ideas in Group D.

Győr also played when Sporting hosted an elite round group in 2011
Győr also played when Sporting hosted an elite round group in 2011 ©Miguel Albuquerque

Sporting Clube de Portugal (POR, hosts)
Sporting have hosted three previous elite round mini-tournaments or equivalent, and each time reached the finals: in 2002, 2011 (when they ended runners-up) and 2012. They hope to repeat that in Almada, on the outskirts of Lisbon, having beaten SL Benfica to the title and Lisbon Taça de Honra last season under new coach Nuno Dias. However, Benfica did get their revenge last week with an 8-7 league win, Sporting's first loss this season.

The squad remains familiar, with goalkeepers João Benedito and Cristiano, physical defenders João Matos, Pedro Cary, Paulinho and Djô, and Brazilian attackers Deo, Marcelinho, Divanei and Alex (a 2005 winner with Action 21 Charleoi), though Leitão did leave in the summer. "The great effort was to keep the players in the squad," said 40-year-old Dias. "Our responsibility remains the same: winning. We have a lot of things to win; the UEFA Futsal Cup will not have special treatment."

Main round: Bye
Key players: Alex, João Benedito, Divanei, Deo, João Matos

Győri ETO FC (HUN)
Győr are in this round for the third time in succession and hope to make it a step further, flying high at home with nine perfect wins. Coach David Madrid has a full-strength squad and said: "The luck was with us that we weren't drawn against the two most recent winners of the competition, Kairat Almaty and FC Barcelona, or the two-time runners-up, MFK Dinamo. But with this I do not want to say this group will be easy, for we will play against one of the tournament favourites in hosts Sporting Clube de Portugal. I would like to take all my players to Portugal in good condition and therefore there is still some work ahead of us."

Main round: KMF Tango Sarajevo 4-2, FC Grand Pro Varna 5-0, Iberia Star Tbilisi 3-1 (Group 2 winners)
Key players:
Alvarito, Fábio Aguiar, Zoltán Dróth

Araz Naxçivan (AZE)
Araz Naxçivan are looking to repeat their achievement of 2010, when they made it to the finals and finished third, with the club celebrating their tenth anniversary in a few months. The squad has changed much in the intervening period, the likes of Rizvan Farzaliyev, Namig Mammadkarimov, Rajab Farajzade and Jadder Dantas departing, though all-time top scorer Vitaliy Borisov is still there. Defender Elnur Gambarov told UEFA.com: "We have been training hard twice a day, each of the sessions last two hours. We want to hear Europe once more speaking about Azerbaijani futsal."

Main round: Athina '90 5-1, Châtelineau Futsal 3-1, City'US Târgu Mureş 3-3 (Group 6 winners)
Key players: Vitaliy Borisov, Biro Jade, Felipe

CF Eindhoven (NED)
After reaching the elite round for the first time in 2011/12, Eindhoven are back again, having set a record with their fourth straight Dutch title last season. However, they are only second in the league after last week's 9-4 loss to JCK-Aiso and have been hit by injuries to key men like goalkeeper Pieter Grimmelius and playmaker Oualid Saadouni, who are both doubts for Lisbon. However, general director Anil Badloe said: "Being among the best 16 in Europe is an even better performance than winning the Dutch championship."

Main round: Vegakameratene 3-0, MNK Nacional Zagreb 5-4, KMF Ekonomac Kragujevac 1-6 (Group 5 runners-up)
Key players:
Jamal El Ghannouti, Oualid Saadouni, Iliass El Attabi, Karim Bali

Reporters: José Nuno Pimentel, Matthew Watson-Broughton, Oktay Atayev & Berend Scholten

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