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UEFA Futsal Champions League final preview: Barça vs Sporting CP

Sporting CP aim for a second straight final win against Barça, who hope to be only the second team to four titles as they face off in Riga.

Barça coachJesús Velasco and Sporting's Nuno Dias at Arena Riga on Saturday
Barça coachJesús Velasco and Sporting's Nuno Dias at Arena Riga on Saturday SPORTSFILE

For the second year running, Barça take on Sporting CP for the UEFA Futsal Champions League title as they meet at Arena Riga on Sunday.

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A year ago in Zadar, Sporting came back from two down to win 4-3 and to claim their second title in three years, one behind Barça's tally. That game was behind closed doors, as was Barça's home victory against Murcia in the 2020 decider; this time the biggest futsal crowd in the history of Latvia is expected to be in attendance.

Where to watch: TV/streams

The lowdown

Semi-final highlights: Benfica 4-5 Barça (aet)

In the last 12 seasons there have only been two finals without one of these clubs and both progressed unbeaten. Each topped their groups in the main and elite round, though Sporting did draw one of their games.

The holders then beat France's ACCS Asnières Villeneuve 92 6-2 in Friday's semi-finals, though Pany Varela's red card means he is out on Sunday. Barça trailed Benfica 3-0 at half-time but came back to lead before extra time was forced, Adolfo winning it 18 seconds from the end.

That comeback is the mirror image of many achieved by Portuguese teams in recent years, not least when Sporting recovered from 2-0 down in last year's final to defeat Barça 4-3, with a starring performance from the then teenage Zicky. Barça were the holders, and whatever happens the record of one or either of these clubs winning the trophy since the rebranding of the old UEFA Futsal Cup in 2018/19 will continue.

Meet the teams

Views from the camps

Semi-final highlights: ACCS 2-6 Sporting CP

Jesús Velasco, Barça coach: "We are ready and our motivation couldn’t be higher. The players are a bit tired following their effort against Benfica but we still have some time to recover for the final. It was a very hard match but it will give us ever more strength for the final.

"There’s not much to say about Sporting because by now everybody knows just how good they are. They are where they are with merit and they are the reining champions. We are talking about a top team who excel in every single aspect of the game."

Nuno Dias, Sporting coach: "The team is in good shape both physically and mentally. It’s no secret that we will face a very tough opponent but we will prepare in the best possible way so we can prevail and retain our title. I think the best way to explain our success in recent years has to do to the fact that we are always learning. It’s a learning process. When new players arrive they add something to the team and we all improve thanks to that.

"Barça are a team who are used to winning and the way they beat Benfica tells you everything you need to know about them. Our success will depend of those moments when they put us under pressure and others where we will need to be clinical when we have the upper hand on them."

Ferrao, Barça player: "People are talking about revenge but all I can say is that we are fully focused on the match and nothing else. It will be very, very hard. We will need to leave everything out there on the pitch if we are to succeed. Last year we lost focus a bit after going two goals up and then Sporting took advantage of that, and that’s what also happened yesterday with Benfica. This only reinforces the fact that at this level you need to be totally focused for 40 minutes."

Erick, Sporting player: "We are more than ready for the final and confident. When you reach a final it’s all about getting some details right as all the hard work which allowed us to be here is already done. It’s Sporting against Barça once again in the final and we, as a team, are prepared for the challenge."

Key stats

  • Barça are aiming for a fourth title after 2012, 2014 and 2020 to go within one of Inter FS's record.
  • Sporting, winners in 2019 and 2021, can join Barça on three titles.
  • For both it is the sixth final, all since 2012 for Barça and 2011 for Sporting. Only Inter (8) have more.
  • Barça have reached three straight finals, matching the record held by FC Dynamo (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012, 2013, 2014), Inter (2016, 2017, 2018) and Sporting (2017, 2018, 2019).
  • Sporting can become the third team to successfully defend the title after Playas de Castellón (the inaugural 2002 and 2003 editions) and Inter FS (2017 and 2018). On both occasions those teams beat the same club in each final.
  • Sporting are the first team to reach five finals in six seasons and would be the first to win three titles in four years.
  • This is the fourth time that the same final has been played two years running. Castellón defeated Action 21 Charleroi in 2002 and 2003, Inter beat Sporting in 2017 and 2018, and Inter defeated FC Dynamo in2006 but lost to them 12 months later.
  • Barça's Sergio Lozano can become the first player to win the title four times with the same club. Dyego hopes to make it three having helped them win in 2014 and 2020.
  • Ortiz of Barça can also win a fourth title (he won with Inter in 2009, 2017 and 2018, the current equal most with one club). He and Lozano would equal the record of Gabriel, who won twice with both Inter and Barça.
  • This final matches the two coaches with the most games in this competition. After the semi-finals, Jesús Velasco of Barça had 57 while Sporting's Nuno Dias had become the first to reach 50 with a single club.
  • Both these coaches have won the competition twice (Velasco with Inter in 2017 and 2018, Dias with Sporting in 2019 and 2021). One will become the first three-time winning coach.
  • Nuno Dias will coach his 13th finals game in his sixth final tournament and his fith final, all outright records.
  • Sporting captain João Matos will play his 17th finals game; reaching 16 made him the outright record holder.
  • Sporting’s Guitta, Erick, João Matos, Alex Merlim, Pauleta, Zicky, Tomás Paço, Diego Cavinato and back-up keeper Bernardo Paço all remain from the 14 that took part in the 2021 final defeat of Barça in Zadar. Guitta, Erik, Merlim, Cavinato, João Matos also were involved in the 2019 final win against Kairat in Almaty, as was Cardinal, who missed last year’s tournament injured. Pany, suspended on Sunday, was also part of both.
  • Cavinato scored his tenth goal of the campaign on Friday, within one of season leader Mirko Marinković of Diamant Linz (last season the Italian international finished within one of top scorer Petro Shoturma).
  • Ferrao's goal against Benfica took his career tally to ten in UEFA futsal club final tournaments, equalling the record held by his injured club-mate Esquerdinha.