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Ugra v Inter: UEFA Futsal Cup final preview

It is the seventh Russia v Spain UEFA Futsal Cup final in 11 years as debutants Ugra Yugorsk face record three-time winers Inter FS in Guadalajara.

Ugra coach Kaká and Inter's Jesús Velasco ahead of the final
Ugra coach Kaká and Inter's Jesús Velasco ahead of the final ©Sportsfile

Inter FS have won two of their record three UEFA Futsal Cup titles against Russian teams, and the hosts aim to make it four when they face Ugra Yugorsk in Sunday's final in Guadalajara.

Ugra have reached the final on their debut after defeating Benfica on penalties, but a red card for goalkeeper Zviad Kupatadze on Friday leaves them without their captain against Inter, while top scorer Eder Lima faces a fitness test. The Spanish champions have a big injury doubt over Ricardinho, who hurt his ankle in the 4-2 semi-final defeat of Pescara, while their other Portuguese international Cardinal also sat out training on Saturday having picked up a knock.

  • What they say:

Kakà, Ugra coach
It's always a huge challenge to play a final, especially against the hosts with all the fans behind them, but I think that with the players we have and the experience they have, they will be able to handle it.

In the semi-final, we spent more energy emotionally than physically, as in Russia every game is 50 minutes anyway so extra time was just like a normal game, though emotionally being in a semi-final going to penalties takes its toll … But I think two days is more than enough for the players to recover from that.

Eder Lima is taking a fitness test so let's see how he progresses. But knowing the kind of player he is, he always wants to play. When it's a final you find a way to play, whatever it takes.

Watch: Inter reach the final
Watch: Inter reach the final

Jesús Velasco, Inter coach
I don't think we'll be able to get our normal fluidity back because if the semi-final was tough, the final will be even more so. It's the final of Europe's biggest futsal competition, and our opponents will be doing everything they can to stop us from playing at our best. It's going to be a game that is about competing, concentrating, making as few mistakes as possible, and on that basis, whichever team can give that little bit extra will probably win.

Those who know Ricardinho, and who know me, know how surprised I would be if he told me he wasn't able to play some part. He's having a fitness test to see how severe his injury is, but the good thing is that it is not a muscular injury – it's a knock, so there's no risk of creating a long-term injury. Even not at 100%, he's a player who can make his mark.

  • Road to the final

Ugra
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)
Semi-final: Benfica 4-4 (3-2 pens)

Inter
Elite round: Dobovec 8-0, Kremlin Bicêtre United 10-2. Lidselmash Lida 4-2 (Group A winners)
Semi-final: Pescara 4-2

  • Key factors

Ricardinho doubtful, Kupatadze out
The absence of Kupatadze is a huge blow for Ugra, for the captain's leadership and charisma as well as his goalkeeping; Sergei Slemzin covered well against Benfica both in the match and the shoot-out but of course Ugra will have no cover in the final.

Ugra will at least hope tournament top scorer Eder Lima can play a part but for Inter, despite the depth of their squad, the absence of Ricardinho would be as significant of that of Kupatadze on the other side. The talent of the Portuguese winger is undoubted and he is also a man for the big occasion, as he proved in the 2010 final for Benfica against Inter and then in several big matches since joining the Spanish club three years ago.

Can Ugra raise their game?
Benfica were able to cut through the Ugra defence at key moments on Friday, not least as normal time was running out to make it 3-3 and then to take the lead early in the extra ten minutes. Ugra were able to respond each time, but Inter's Ortiz-marshalled defence are tougher to break down and the Russian champions will have to be tighter at the back to give their hugely talented attack the best chance of producing victory – something they proved they could do in the 5-2 elite round defeat of holders Kairat.

Andrei Afanasyev: no stranger to Russia v Spain club finals
Andrei Afanasyev: no stranger to Russia v Spain club finals©Sportsfile

Yet another Russia v Spain final
For the seventh time in the last 11 editions, clubs from Russia and Spain compete in the final, not to mention the fact those nations played for the UEFA Futsal EURO title in February – as has been the case in five out of ten competitions. Spanish sides have generally had the edge at both club and national-team level (as they have against sides from pretty much anywhere else in Europe) but this side do not bear quite as many scars: Andrei Afanasyev and Vladislav Shayakhmetov's Ekaterinburg were debutants when they beat Murcia FS in 2008, as indeed were Barcelona against Dynamo four years later.

  • Russia v Spain finals: full list

UEFA Futsal Cup
2006: Inter (ESP) 6-3/3-4 Dynamo (RUS) – agg: 9-7
2007: Dynamo (RUS) 2-1 Inter (ESP) – Murcia
2008: Sinara Ekaterinburg (RUS) 4-4, 3-2pens Murcia (ESP) – Moscow
2009: Inter (ESP) 5-1 Sinara Ekaterinburg (RUS) – Ekaterinburg
2012: Barcelona (ESP) 3-1 Dynamo (RUS) – Lleida
2014: Barcelona (ESP) 5-2aet Dynamo (RUS) – Baku

Belgrade final: Spain beat Russia 7-3
Belgrade final: Spain beat Russia 7-3

UEFA Futsal EURO
1996: Spain 5-3 Russia – Cordoba
1999: Russia 3-3, 4-2pens Spain – Granada
2005: Spain 2-1 Russia – Ostrava
2012: Spain 3-1aet Russia – Zagreb
2016: Spain 7-3 Russia – Belgrade

  • Players to watch
Robinho will be vital for Ugra
Robinho will be vital for Ugra©Sportsfile

Ugra: Robinho – The man that converted the winning penalty against Benfica was his usual, tireless creative self and knows all about winning this title from his success with Action 21 Charleroi in 2005, when they defeated Dynamo to become the first non-Spanish champions.

Inter: Ortiz – The Spain captain commands the Inter defence and showed his attacking skills in setting up Ricardinho's equaliser in the semi-final. The 32-year-old was on the Inter team that won in 2009 and claimed yet another UEFA Futsal EURO title in February.

Robinho scores the decisive penalty against Benfica ...
Robinho scores the decisive penalty against Benfica ...©Sportsfile
... and wheels away to celebrate
... and wheels away to celebrate©Sportsfile