Quarter-final day is beckoning at Thailand 2012, and the line-up for the last eight includes more than one match worthy of being the final itself. Brazil’s showdown with old rivals Argentina pits the holders against the shock winners of South America’s qualifying competition, while Russia and Spain are reunited nine months after battling it out for the European title. Thrills can also be expected from another all-European clash between Italy and Portugal, while Ukraine’s meeting with Colombia showcases two of the tournament’s dark horses.
Match of the day
Spain-Russia, Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 14 November 2012, 21.00 (local time)
It needed extra time to separate these futsal giants in February’s UEFA Futsal EURO final, and a match every bit as dramatic and closely-fought looks a near-certainly. The battle for continental glory eventually ended with Spain victorious, and that alone marks them out as favourites according to Russia coach Sergey Skorovich.
However, while his opposite number attempts to skilfully shift the burden of expectation, Spain’s Venancio Lopez will know only too well that the Russians are well capable of exacting revenge. Skorovich’s team do, after all, boast Thailand 2012’s leading marksman in Eder Lima, and have enjoyed a near-flawless campaign thus far, scoring 30 goals without reply.
One of international football’s oldest and fiercest rivalries will be reprised at the Huamark Indoor Stadium when Argentina and Brazil go head-to-head. The reigning champions will be favourites against an injury-weakened Albiceleste side but Fernando Larranaga’s side will at least be boosted by the return from suspension of Cristian Borruto.
Continental bragging rights will also be up for graps when Portugal play Italy, and with the likes of Cardinal, Saad Assis and Ricardinho all in sparkling form, goals should be guaranteed in the first of Nimibutr Stadium’s quarter-finals.
Stopping teams from scoring has become Colombia’s speciality, meanwhile, although they will need yet more heroics from goalkeeper Juan Lozano if they are to cause another shock against in-form Ukraine.
Player to watch
All eyes will be on Falcao after he made a goalscoring return from injury in the last 16 just two weeks after his Thailand 2012 campaign seemed to be at an end. Scoring against Panama enabled the Seleção legend duly to become just the fourth player to find the net at four different editions of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, and he will be desperate to continue his comeback – and add to his 35 goals at this tournament – against opponents he knows extremely well.
2 – The number of confederations represented in the quarter-finals, with five of the remaining teams representing UEFA and three hailing from CONMEBOL. Only once before in the history of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, at Spain 1996, has the last eight been comprised entirely of teams from two continents.
“It’s very likely that our game-plan against Ukraine will be similar to the one we used against Iran. In my experience, every time we have gone out to play an attacking game in tournaments like this, we have been eliminated. Some will compliment us; others will criticise our defensive system. But our concept is clear and our conscience is clean. The dream is not over yet,” Arney Fonnegra, Colombia coach.
Argentina-Brazil (Bangkok, Huamark Indoor Stadium, 16.00)
Colombia-Ukraine (Bangkok, Huamark Indoor Stadium, 18.30)
Portugal-Italy (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 18.30)
Spain-Russia (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 21.00)
(All kick-off times are local)