The Argentinian Vicente de Luise certainly has an impressive CV, with having coached his homeland at the first two FIFA Futsal World Cups arguably taking pride of place among his many achievements.
What's more, De Luise is currently coach of the Chilean national futsal team and a member of the prestigious FIFA Technical Study Group – thus making him an ideal authority on Thailand 2012 and the sport he loves. Just hours before the tournament’s eagerly awaited final between Spain and Brazil, he sat down with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Sr. De Luise, what’s your overall impression of the tournament so far?
Vicente de Luise: On the whole very positive, as it’s been a very engrossing competition. Using a format in which you go directly from the first phase to the Round of 16 without the need for a second group phase has given us a lot of exciting games. We're seeing a great World Cup.
Compared to Brazil 2008, what are the biggest differences you’ve noticed in terms of playing styles and tactics?
I’ve noticed that most of the sides are playing a more attacking style. Since the ball can't keep going back to the goalkeeper, teams have had to put more work into their transitional play. The use of keepers playing outfield is also no longer an option just used in the dying minutes, and in terms of attacking systems, we are seeing the use of different systems within the same game. That’s why we’re seeing more vibrant matches.
And in defensive terms?
There has also been tangible progress in that area, resulting in fewer one-sided scorelines than in previous editions. What’s interesting in that you can see more and more teams alternating between man-to-man and zonal marking systems. As they’re able to do this during the course of a single game, that speaks volumes both for the flexibility of this sport and the standard of play that’s been reached. This makes matches more unpredictable and interesting for spectators.
The average number of goals scored is higher than Chinese Taipei 2004 and nearly as high as Brazil 2008. How positive is that for futsal and why?
A good goal average, when it’s accompanied by tactical developments, means that the quality of play has improved too. What I mean to say is: more goals are scored due to the work put in to force mistakes, rather than through unforced errors. And this, of course, makes the game better to watch.
Do you think that the gap between the established forces and emerging nations has narrowed?
Without a doubt! In addition to the support that FIFA provides via its training courses, it’s clear that football associations have decided to work professionally not just with their fledgling league competitions, but also with their national sides. There are countries that have long-term projects in place and the results are there for all to see.
On that note, were you surprised that three of the six sides making their tournament debuts reached the knockout stages, with one going as far as the semi-finals?
Not really. This tournament format, which allows four of the best third-placed teams to reach the Round of 16, is an incentive for those nations who, despite having pedigree in this sport, have not been involved in FIFA futsal for long. Serbia and Colombia are just two examples of that. What’s interesting is that they’ve been able to take advantage of the opportunity, in the process providing the best incentive that other up-and-coming nations, further back along the development trail, could have.