Serial continental champions collide
© Foto-net

Record European champions Spain get their first taste of the action on the second day of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012. The Iberians face a tough opening encounter against ten-time AFC Championship winners Iran in Group B, while the meeting of tournament newcomers Panama and Morocco promises to be an equally fascinating spectacle.

In Group D, South American champions Argentina go up against debutants Mexico, while Italy, who finished third at Brazil 2008, play Australia.

Match of the day
Spain - Iran, Bangkok, Indoor Stadium Huamark, 2 November 2012, 21:00 (local time)
A veritable futsal classic will be on offer when six-time European champions Spain lock horns with Asian heavyweights Iran. Given the countries' relatively balanced record from their four previous meetings at FIFA Futsal World Cups, it is sure to be another hard-fought battle.

In 1992 they played each other twice, with Iran winning the second-round fixture before Spain exacted revenge in the match for third place. Eight years later, La Roja once again came out on top, but in Brazil 2008 the sides drew. The fifth contest between the two historically strong futsal nations is not to be missed.

Other highlights
Argentina arrived in Thailand riding a wave of euphoria following their triumph at the South American qualifying tournament. La Albiceleste are looking to start their campaign with a win for the seventh successive time. They will do battle with a Mexico side participating at a FIFA Futsal World Cup for the first time. Nevertheless, the North Americans are not be underestimated, as seven of Mexico’s squad have plenty of top-level experience, having participated at one or more FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups.

Elsewhere in the group, Italy meet Australia. The Squadra Azzurra finished third at Brazil 2008 and are likely to have loftier ambitions than the Futsalroos, who are back among the world’s elite after failing to reach the showpiece four years ago.

The second matchday in Bangkok is rounded off by Panama and Morocco. Both nations will be hoping for a positive start to their futsal adventure, in order to carry the momentum of reaching Thailand 2012 into their subsequent matches.

Player to watch
Saad Assis is one of only two players in the Italy squad to have featured at Brazil 2008. Given the lasting impression he made there, it is little wonder he is still around. In the match for third place against Russia, Assis scored the decisive goal to put his country 2-1 up with just 13 seconds left. He will be using all his experience to ensure Italy are once again involved at the business end of proceedings this time around.

The stat
0
- Argentina and Mexico have never met on a futsal court before, making Friday evening's game in the Nimibutr Stadium in the Thai capital Bangkok a world first.

The words
“I’m not sure they can win the title, but Iran are the kind of team who can knock out one of the big favourites,” Kike, a veteran of three FIFA Futsal World Cups with Spain.

The schedule
Italy-Australia (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 17:00)
Argentina-Mexico (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 19:00)
Panama-Morocco (Bangkok, Indoor Stadium Huamark, 19:00)
Spain-Iran (Bangkok, Indoor Stadium Huamark, 21:00)
(All kick-off times are local)