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Ugra v Benfica: Futsal Cup semi-final preview

The 2010 UEFA Futsal Cup winners Benfica play their first semi-final in five years against finals debutants Ugra, a side packed with Russian stars.

Ugra Yugorsk coach Kaká and Benfica's Joel Rocha show mutual respect
Ugra Yugorsk coach Kaká and Benfica's Joel Rocha show mutual respect ©Sportsfile

The 2010 UEFA Futsal Cup winners Benfica play their first semi-final in five years when they meet competition debutants Ugra Yugorsk to open the finals in Guadalajara on Friday.

Ugra, packed with Russia players that were runners-up at UEFA Futsal EURO 2016, come into the finals on fine form, with a recent Russian Cup win to boost their confidence, while Benfica have to deal with the suspension of Bruno Coelho, and the fact that several other players are one booking from missing Sunday's deciders.

  • What they say:

Kakà, Ugra coach
We've got a lot of players with experience from the Futsal EURO and we've had to get through two rounds to get here. We have a lot of players who have played in this competition before – they are players that are used to playing at this level. This is the biggest futsal club competition in the world.

The two teams have both studied each other very well – there won't be any secrets between us. These are two teams with a similar style of play – high-quality, attacking futsal. Both teams have strength in depth, and they both have some great individuals. Given how closely-matched the teams are, the difference could come down to those individuals.

Joel Rocha, Benfica coach
It's an honour and a privilege to be here. It's the result of a lot of hard work, and for Benfica as a club it's an honour to be able to be continue to respect this club's tradition in this competition, which means a lot to us. First and foremost, Benfica are going to focus on doing justice to ourselves as a club.

We respect our opposition – Ugra are one of the best teams in one of Europe's most competitive leagues. They have the best attacking record and the best defensive record in that league; they have the top scorer in this competition [13-goal Eder Lima]; they have five or six players who reached the Futsal EURO final [with Russia]. If you bring all those ingredients together with the individual quality they have, it is going to be an extremely challenging match for Benfica, and extremely exciting.

  • Road to semi-finals

Main round: Kremlin Bicêtre United 5-0, APOEL 4-3, Georgians Tbilisi 3-0 (Group 1 winners)
Elite round: Kairat Almaty 5-2, EP Chrudim 4-1, Győr 5-4 (Group C winners)

Main round: Centar Sarajevo 8-2, Grand Pro Varna 9-2, Dobovec 6-1 (Group 2 winners)
Elite round: Ekonomac Kragujavec 3-0, Slov-Matic Bratislava 4-5, Lokomotiv Kharkiv 2-0 (Group D winners)

  • Key factors
Ugra are in the finals for the first time
Ugra are in the finals for the first time©Győri ETO FC

Ugra form impressive
This might be Ugra's first European season but it was no surprise to see them make the finals, eliminating holders Kairat Almaty in the elite round. The Russian league takes some winning and anyone who has watched their national team in recent years will be more than aware of the qualities of the likes of Vladislav Shayakhmetov, Robinho and Eder Lima.

Benfica's fighting spirit
Benfica's form this season has been mixed but in the elite round they showed tremendous character to recover from losing against Bratisalava to then beat Lokomotiv with two late goals to win their group. The yellow card picked up by Bruno Coelho in that game that leaves him suspended on Friday was a blow, though.

Can Benfica stop Ugra's stars?
A team with the flair of Robinho, Dmitri Lyskov, Eder Lima and Marcênio, plus Vladislav Shayakhmetov pulling the strings, will be a serious challenge to Benfica, whose defence has occasionally been vulnerable this season.

  • Players to watch

Ugra: Robinho – Despite reaching the UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 final, Russia were not at their best but Robinho played excellently throughout, and his influence has also been vital for Ugra's rise.

Benfica: Juanjo – While generally behind Paco Sedano as Spain's No1, the goalkeeper is recognised as world-class, as proved in this competition for Murcia, as well as during a subsequent spell at Inter.

  • Suspended

Ugra: none
Benfica: Bruno Coelho

  • Will be out on Sunday with booking

Ugra: Katata
Benfica: Chaguinha, Wilhelm, Gonçalo, Alan Brandi