Record crowd awaits Sporting and Barcelona
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Nuno Dias hopes a sell-out 10,500 crowd will roar hosts Sporting Clube de Portugal to victory in their semi-final against holders FC Barcelona, who expect a tough occasion.
Article top media content
• Sell-out crowd of 10,500 at Lisbon's Meo Arena will break competition record
• Barcelona aim to equal two records by winning second straight title and third overall
• Hosts Sporting striving to avenge 2012 semi-final loss to Barcelona in Lleida
• Barça's Sergio Lozano expected to miss game through thigh injury
• Sporting's Paulinho out with sprained knee having also missed 2011 finals injured
• Final and third-place play-off both on Sunday
A UEFA Futsal Cup record crowd of 10,500 is expected to pack Lisbon's Meo Arena when hosts Sporting Clube de Portugal tackle holders FC Barcelona in Friday night's second semi-final.
It was at the same venue five years ago that 9,400 fans watched SL Benfica defeat Spain's Inter FS to secure Portugal's only European crown to date. But with tickets having sold out very swiftly for the 2015 finals, that attendance mark is set to be shattered.
Sporting did stage the inaugural eight-team 2002 finals at the waterfront arena but fell 4-0 in the semis to another Spanish side, Playas de Castellón FS. Ten years later in Lleida, hosts Barcelona beat 2011 runners-up Sporting 5-1 on their way to victory on their continental debut, a trophy conquest they repeated 12 months ago in Baku. Another win would emulate both Castellón's feat of successfully defending the title in 2003 and Inter's record of three tournament triumphs.
Nuno Dias, Sporting coach
The competition is near and the desire for it to start is huge. The anxiety levels are growing but what we want is that by the time the whistle blows all of that has gone. It could mean that we play more with our emotions than we have planned. It's impossible in a competition like this to say that we are not nervous, that we don't want it to start quickly. But we are going to try and ensure that won't harm us.
I have seen lots of Barcelona matches, it's hard to say just one thing that they do well. They are a team with lots of quality, all their players are internationals more than used to these kind of matches, difficult matches.
From my side I hope that playing at home could be decisive and I am sure it will be. Playing with 10,500 'Sportinguistas' will give us strength when we don't have it, will help us when things don't go so well.
We've known that we will be without Paulinho for a long time, so we are prepared to play without that option, unfortunately.
Marc Carmona, Barcelona coach
[Comparing Sporting to 2012] They are very different. They have different players, a different coach and different systems of playing. We like them in attack, we like them in defence – they are a very compact team, playing with or without a pivot. With all due respect, I think this Sporting is better than the team we faced in Lleida.
Sometimes [playing as hosts] can make you more nervous. But I don’t think it will be the decisive factor. It helps but at this level it isn't decisive.
Of course we saw [Sporting beat Spanish league leaders Inter 1-0 to qualify for the finals]. We took some notes to see how they deal with certain situations and it helped us as a reference for any tactical situation.
Will miss final/third-place play-off if booked
Barcelona: Lozano, Ari
Sporting: João Benedito, Cristiano, Pedro Cary
Competition top scorers
Barcelona: Wilde 4
Sporting: Fábio Lima 4
Barcelona: W2 L1
Sporting: W1 L2
• Of the teams in the 2012 encounter, Carmona's Barcelona retain Cristian, Ari, Lin, Saad, Wilde, Gabriel and Lozano.
• Wilde scored twice and Ari also struck.
• From that game, Sporting can still field João Benedito, Cristiano, Marcelinho, Cary, João Matos and Caio.
• If Gabriel features for Barcelona, he will become the first player to appear in nine semi-final matches (including the old two-legged format).
• Gabriel will also set a record of 13 outings in the 'final four' since its 2007 introduction. He currently shares both distinctions with FC Dynamo's Cirilo.
• Gabriel has won this competition a record four times – two titles with Inter and two with the Blaugrana.
• Cristian, Lin, Saad, Wilde, Gabriel and injury doubt Lozano are also chasing third titles with Barcelona.
• Carmona is seeking to become the first coach to win the competition three times.
• Sporting's Alex landed the UEFA Futsal Cup with Action 21 Charleroi in 2005.
• Sporting's record in five games against Spanish sides in this competition is W2 L3, including the 1-0 defeat of Inter in the elite round.
• Barcelona will finish second behind Inter in the Spanish regular season. The championship is decided by an eight-team play-off.
• Sporting came third in Portugal's regular season. They take on Módicus in the play-off quarter-finals next month.