Benfica won the 2010 UEFA Futsal Cup with Ricardinho; now he could stand in their way in Guadalajara as they return to the finals after a five-year absence.
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The team from the central Russian city claimed their first league title last summer with victory against former UEFA Futsal Cup winners FC Dynamo to earn a European debut.
Their impressive 5-2 defeat of holders Kairat Almaty in their first elite round game was key to their perfect qualification, in which they scored 44 goals. Eder Lima got 13 and leads the way as competition top scorer, just as the Russian international did at UEFA Futsal EURO 2014. Two weeks ago they won their second Russian Futsal Cup 10-2 on aggregate against Sibiryak. Sunday's 7-3 league win at the team they succeeded as champions, Dina Moskva, kept them within a point of FC Dynamo with one regular season match to go.
Ugra Yugorsk (RUS)
- v Benfica (Friday, 17.30CET)
Finals appearances since 2007: debut season
Best performance: debut season
Top scorer: Eder Lima 13
Key players: Vladislav Shayakhmetov, Robinho, Eder Lima
League position: second
- Three questions: Dmitri Lyskov
It was a terrific achievement beating champions Kairat in the elite round. How much confidence does that give you ahead of the semi-finals?
I'd say beating Kairat was a huge confident booster in the elite round, because it was our first game. After that win we were confident in our qualification. As for the final four – it's a completely different tournament. All four teams are really strong and anyone can win in the end. Our opponents will give 100% just like we will, so it's completely unpredictable.
Your team-mate Vladislav Shayakhmetov won the UEFA Futsal Cup with Sinara Ekaterinburg in 2008 – so although Ugra are in their first season you have players who have been there before. How can his experience help Ugra?
Robinho won it as well! Those two are great players with a lot of experience. During our first games in the competition they tried to convince us we didn't have to be nervous. Although I think it's only natural to be nervous as it is our first time in the competition. At the same time all our players know our strengths and weaknesses. We know our level and we know what we have to do in order to get the result.
2015 was a terrific year for you, with your goals leading Ugra to the title. Describe the moment when Ugra lifted trophy as Russian champions for the first time?
It was very special. I was deeply in shock, in a good sense of course. The emotions were very similar to the ones I felt after winning the European Under-21 title in 2008. I was very happy, but somehow that feeling didn't last for long. Already the next day we were joking that we have to start preparing for the next season to defend our title. But still it was a huge satisfaction. We worked so hard for it and our supporters deserved that success.