After 17 days of futsal action and 50 matches, the final of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 will be contested this Sunday, when Spain and title-holders Brazil battle it out for futsal’s ultimate prize. However, before the finalists can take to the pitch, Italy and Colombia will face off to decide who will walk away with third place. Gli Azzurri will be aiming for a second bronze in a row, while for tournament newcomers Colombia, every victory represents another little bit of history.
The final promises to be a feast for futsal lovers everywhere, with two of the best teams in the world bringing star-studded line-ups to this heavyweight clash. Brazil make their sixth appearance at a FIFA Futsal World Cup final and will be hoping to add to the four titles they already hold, while opponents Spain, who are the only other side to have won a FIFA Futsal World Cup, will be contesting their fifth final.
Spain’s journey through the tournament has been largely untroubled. After topping Group B, ahead of Iran, Panama and Morocco, they knocked out tournament hosts Thailand in the Round of 16 and overcame a dangerous Russia in the quarter-finals. A semi-final victory over Italy completed their run to the decider.
Brazil started out in Group C alongside Portugal, Japan and Libya and moved comfortably past Round of 16 opponents Panama. Their toughest test came against Argentina in the quarter-finals, when they needed extra time to complete a dramatic comeback. A Seleção then dispatched semi-final opponents Colombia to keep their title hopes on track.
This is the second time in a row that Gli Azzurri have just missed out on the final, so coach Roberto Mennichelli will keen to secure bronze to maintain the game’s progress in Italy. Colombia, however, have proved remarkably resilient at Thailand 2012 and are sure to provide stiff opposition for the Europeans.
Indeed Los Cafeteros have been the revelation of the tournament. After qualifying from Group F, they eliminated pre-match favourites Iran in the Round of 16 then sprang one of the shocks of the tournament in the quarter-finals by beating Ukraine. Reigning champions Brazil proved too strong in the last four, but the Colombians will be desperate to cap a historic debut with a podium finish.
And while his side have surpassed all expectations, coach Arney Fonnegra insisted they would not be resting on their laurels: “We’ve got a shot at third place and we must try to get it,” he said. Italy can consider themselves warned.
Player to watch
A player well worth keeping an eye on is Brazil's Fernandinho, whose seven goals put him second on the list of top scorers. Moreover, he has an equal number of assists to him name, underlining the threat he poses. Spanish goalkeeper Juanjo will need to be at his best to deny the prolific No10.
4 – The final of Thailand 2012 will be the fourth time Brazil and Spain have competed for the title of futsal world champions. Their first was at Spain 1996, when Brazil defeated the tournament hosts, only for the Spaniards to exact their revenge four years later in Guatemala. The final of Brazil 2008 was the closest fought to date, with the South Americans winning on penalties.