The destination of the 2013/14 UEFA Futsal Cup will be decided, not by past results, rather by which of FC Barcelona and FC Dynamo can impose their will on Saturday's final.
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Two years ago FC Barcelona beat FC Dynamo 3-1 in the UEFA Futsal Cup final. It is a result that bears no relevance to this season's decider in Baku, according to the respective coaches Marc Carmona and Tino Pérez.
Addressing the media ahead of Saturday's showpiece match at the Sarhadchi Olympic Sport Complex, Carmona and Pérez agreed that they were more interested in making history than in revisiting it. The long-serving Barcelona boss said: "We won't consider the 2012 final at all. What happened doesn't matter, even if the squads are very similar. We are just delighted to be playing another final.
"After seeing the matches yesterday we are pleased to be here with Dynamo, because both sides understand the game and try to play the right way," continued the 49-year-old, overseeing Barça's third consecutive last-four campaign and second final. "They have a magnificent team and coach, they are the club with most final appearances. We expect a really difficult game – it's 50-50."
Indeed, this is a record sixth shot at the title for the Russian masters, whose 2007 UEFA Futsal Cup triumph was directly preceded by back-to-back final defeats; if that pattern repeats itself in the Azerbaijani capital they will be champions again. However, for all Dynamo's strength and experience, have the ghosts of finals past been truly exorcised? Pérez, twice a European champion coach with Playas de Castellón FS, argued so.
"We are living in the present, this is a totally different final," said the man celebrating his 45th birthday. "It could affect the mentality but it shouldn't: I prefer not to look at past disappointments." In charge since 2010, the Spaniard preferred to think that strength of character could be key. After Dynamo squeezed past holders Kairat Almaty 2-1 in Thursday's sequel to last term's showpiece, Barcelona toughed out a penalties win over hosts Araz Naxçivan, with both successes owing to grit rather than grace.
"We both deserve to be here after surviving some tough moments," said Pérez, missing Sergei Sergeev with a knee injury. "Yesterday wasn't just about tactics or technique. It was about mentality. We both had to deal with flying goalkeepers. When you aren't allowed to do exactly what you want on the pitch, you have to think outside the box – you have to have the character to overcome the situation. It's about your ability to truly affect matches and to find goals. It's about delivering in the moments that really matter."
While Pérez also applauded the Catalan side's ability to produce even when the opposition are doing everything to stop them, his opposite number returned the compliment by saying: "Dynamo have a great winning tradition, plus some of Russia and Brazil's best players. But the main thing is their coach. He's the difference."
As if to underline his professional appreciation, Carmona echoed Pérez's comment about teams enforcing their will on a game. "Efficiency is one of the most important things in this sport. That's an area where we have to improve. If we don't we could be in for a tough time. There are lots of similarities between the teams but what matters is whether the players get it right on the day."