With four titles to their name, Brazil are the most successful team in the history of the FIFA Futsal World Cup. A Seleção dominated the tournament’s early existence, claiming the trophy in each of the first three editions: Netherlands 1989, Hong Kong 1992 and Spain 1996. Their monopoly was then broken by the Spanish, at whose hands Brazil fell in the final of Guatemala 2000 and at the semi-final stage of Chinese Taipei 2004. However, the South Americans’ pre-eminent position was re-established on home soil in 2008, albeit only just, with Spain edged out on penalties in a dramatic final.
Reigning champions they may be, but Brazil endured a difficult qualifying campaign for Thailand 2012. As expected, they coasted through the group phase, becoming the first team to qualify for the semi-finals – and, in the process, the global showpiece – by seeing off Bolivia (15-1), Peru (9-0), Argentina (3-0) and Chile (10-0). The Argentinians, however, were to have the last laugh, as they ended up winning the tournament, triumphing on penalties over a Paraguay side that had shocked Brazil in the last four with a wholly unexpected 5-3 win.
Brazil will hope that this unlikely loss was merely an aberration, and they certainly returned to their best form in the third-place play-off, beating Colombia 5-1. Certainly, most observers are still tipping A Seleção and Spain to be the teams to beat in Thailand, although concerns have been raised that the holders remain reliant on the prolific but aging Falcao. This futsal icon, winner of the adidas Golden Ball at each of the two most recent FIFA Futsal World Cups, will be 35 by the time Thailand 2012 rolls around. Nonetheless, seven goals in the recent South American qualifiers would suggest that Brazil’s veteran star – scorer of 34 goals in 25 FIFA Futsal World Cup appearances – will be as potent as ever in the Far East.
Facts and figures
Falcao, Je and Tiago
Qualification in numbers
Brazil could hardly have been any more impressive during the group stage of the South American qualifiers, winning all four of their matches by an aggregate score of 37-1. However, a rare slip-up followed in the shape of a 5-3 defeat in extra-time to Paraguay, leaving their subsequent bronze-winning 5-1 win over Colombia as scant consolation.
64 – The number of goals Brazil scored during their triumphant 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup campaign, making for an astonishing average of 7.1 goals per game.