After a disappointing debut at the inaugural FIFA Futsal World Cup in the Netherlands in 1989, where they failed to survive the group phase, Spain have become a veritable tour de force in the discipline. So much so, in fact, that they are one of the few sides to have challenged Brazil’s dominance of the sport. After finishing third at Hong Kong 1992 and second to Brazil on home soil in 1996, Spain won back-to-back titles at Guatemala 2000 and Chinese Taipei 2004, consigning A Seleção to runners-up spot on both occasions. At Brazil 2008, La Roja almost avenged that defeat in Spain 12 years earlier by pushing the hosts all the way, before finally losing out on penalties.
After finishing second last time out, coach Venancio Lopez successfully renewed his squad and led his side to their fourth consecutive European title this year. Their dominance also extended to the qualifying campaign for Thailand 2012, during which they recorded main-round victories over Norway (8-0), Belgium (6-0) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (6-0), followed by two more against Slovakia in the play-off round, winning 12-0 on aggregate.
“We didn't want to take any chances,” said Lopez after the second leg against Slovakia. “This team is now unbeaten in almost seven years, over 108 matches, and we have developed a real winning mentality. Despite winning the first leg 4-0, we knew we could make it hard or easy for ourselves. When it all depends on you, you therefore have to be utterly focused and play with maximum intensity. We’ll try to continue in the same vein,” the coach added.
Spain won all five of the qualifying games they played en route to Thailand. In total, they racked up 32 goals and conceded none. Their top scorers were Sergio and Fernandao with six each.
The numbers game
44 - The number of games Spain have played at FIFA Futsal World Cups, a total exceeded only by Brazil (49). In addition, Spain are one of only three sides (along with Brazil and Argentina) to have appeared at all six editions of futsal’s flagship tournament to date.