As FC Barcelona's Gabriel prepares for his seventh final in ten years, the four-time champion reflects on what the competition means to him and an encounter with Kairat Almaty.
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On Sunday the 14th UEFA Futsal Cup final will be played: for the seventh time it will feature Gabriel.
The Brazil winger helped Inter FS win the title in 2006 before losing in the decider to FC Dynamo the following year. In 2009 Gabriel was again celebrating with Inter and then history repeated itself as he once more fell at the final hurdle 12 months later. Since his 2011 move to FC Barcelona he has triumphed in 2012 and 2014, a record fourth victory for a single player.
A fifth is on the cards if Barcelona beat Kairat Almaty at Lisbon's Meo Arena – the very venue where Inter fell in extra time to SL Benfica in 2010. "It's an immense joy to have played so many finals, every one is special," said 34-year-old winger Gabriel, who also has to his name two South American club titles with Carlos Barbosa de Futsal.
"I had the misfortune to lose here in Lisbon against Benfica in this arena and I hope that doesn't happen again," the two-time FIFA Futsal World Cup winner added. "In each competition the teams are different and we try to adapt in the best way possible to win; tomorrow will be no different. We are going to do all we can to take the cup back to Barcelona."
Twice with Inter, Gabriel got the better of Kairat teams containing Cacau. Now coach of Kairat, Cacau said: "Gabriel needs no introduction. His titles say everything about him, his character and his leading role in the team on and off the pitch. I have a lot of respect for him, a player who won everything, two-time world champion with Brazil. He and Vinicius are my reference points."
As for Cacau's team, Gabriel will hope for better than when Barcelona suffered their only European defeat two years also in Tbilisi, falling 5-4 to Kairat and their attacking goalkeeper Higuita. Gabriel said: "Mentally it will be a difficult match, and very even, so we have to prepare for their goalkeeper playing high and the quality of their players. They `have signed very quick players. We cannot afford to lose focus."