Ever-presents at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, Argentina have had enough of losing out to the big guns and are looking for more in their first semi-final in the tournament since Chinese Taipei 2004. Opponents Portugal have not missed a world finals since Guatemala 2000, where they achieved their best ever finish of third. Both sides have designs on pushing on and making their first final, but which of them will achieve that objective? FIFA.com offers some pointers as it looks ahead to the second semi-final at Colombia 2016.
Argentina-Portugal, Coliseo el Pueblo, 28 September 2016, 19.00 (local time)
La Albiceleste have won four of their five matches at Colombia 2016 thanks to a combination of hard work, alertness and a solid defence. They set the tone with a hard-fought 1-0 defeat of Kazakhstan in their opening game, which was followed by an emphatic 7-3 defeat of Solomon Islands. In their final group match, the Argentinians showed their resolve by coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Costa Rica, a quality also much in evidence in the 1-0 defeat of Ukraine in the last 16, which came after extra time. The quarter-final against Egypt turned out to be easier than expected, as Argentina cantered to a 5-0 win they will hope is a sign of things to come. Boasting a well-drilled system, a proven ability to take their chances and a goalkeeper at the peak of his powers in Nicolas Sarmiento, Diego Giustozzi’s men are full of confidence ahead of Wednesday’s big match.
Think of Portugal and the name Ricardinho immediately comes to mind. A mere glance at the stats reveals why. The star act of A Selecção das Quinas, the winger is the driving force behind his side, continually bursting out of defence, setting up his compatriots and also finding the back of the net himself, invariably with the utmost style. His team-mates have proved themselves to be perfectly in tune with their chief orchestrator, with Portugal easing through the group phase with a near-perfect record before flexing their muscles in a 4-0 demolition of Costa Rica in the last 16. The 3-2 quarter-final win over Azerbaijan was less handsome than expected, a sign perhaps that the Portuguese were keeping something in reserve for the sterner tests that lie ahead.
Player to watch
The highest scorer in the European qualifiers with eight goals, Cardinal has yet to find his best form at Colombia 2016, having struck only three times so far, though he could well be saving his best till last. A veteran of the Brazil 2008 squad, he is well acquainted with the big occasion, and his experience and influence in shaping Portugal’s game have proved invaluable.
9 - the total number of goals conceded by the two teams so far at Colombia 2016. With just four goals against, Portugal have the best defensive record of the tournament, while Argentina have let in just one more. The South Americans have kept three clean sheets to date, more than any other side.
“We know Argentina. They are a good side with some good players. That’s not going to stop of us from preparing the game the way we usually do, though. We’re in the semi-finals and if we want to go further, then we’ll need to take all the chances that come our way.” Portugal coach Jorge Braz
The final will take place at 14.30 (local time) on Saturday 1 October at the Coliseo el Pueblo in Cali, the venue also for the match for third place, which kicks off at 12.00 the same day.