High-octane duels on third day
© Foto-net

Scheduled for the third matchday at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 are two games that could prove decisive in the final reckoning in Groups A and B: title contenders Russia and Portugal, yet to get their campaigns underway, take on Cuba and Paraguay respectively. Hosts Brazil will also be in action once more, with the demanding local fans expecting another display of exhibition futsal from their Seleção.

FIFA.com brings you an extensive preview of another exciting day here at Brazil 2008.

The big game
Paraguay-Portugal, Group B, 2 October, 10.30 local time, Rio de Janeiro
After a crushing opening victory over the United States, Paraguay face a real test of their mettle against European heavyweights Portugal. The Guaraníes put in a display full of attractive futsal and attacking power against the Stars and Stripes, though the Selecção das Quinas will not give them such an easy ride.

The Lusitanians, for whom this is their first match here at Brazil 2008, are heavily fancied to reach the second group phase - a factor which makes this Group B clash vital for both nations' aspirations. However, the statistics are not in their favour, Portugal having failed to score in three matches against CONMEBOL sides at this competition: 4-0 and 8-0 against Brazil in 2000 and 1-0 versus Argentina in 2004.

The other games
Another intriguing duel is the Russia-Cuba game in Brasilia. And though the Europeans start the match as clear favourites, they have yet to get their Brazil 2008 bid underway. Their Central American opponents, in contrast, opened their campaign with a storming 10-2 success over the Solomon Islands - their first win in the history of this competition. Can they follow it up with victory number two?

One place where there is little hope of a surprise is the Brazil-Solomon Islands tie. Nothing in their performance against the Cubans indicates that the Oceania outfit have what it takes to stop the hosts in their tracks.

Rounding off the day's play will be the United States and Italy, over in Rio de Janeiro. The Nazionale were made to work harder than expected in their opener but still did enough to secure a narrow victory. The North Americans, for their part, were way off their game against the Albirroja and need to turn things round fast to avoid a rapid-fire exit from the elite event.

The player
Eduardo Morales, Cuba
A veteran from their Chinese Taipei 2004 campaign, the Cuban wide-player grabbed four goals against the Solomons, including two goals in a minute, to put in one of the outstanding performances of Matchday 1. Can he put in a similar display against the mighty Russians?

The stat
3 - The number of times the United States and Italy have met in this competition. The Stars and Stripes won 4-1 in 1989 but lost the following two: 4-2 in 1996 and 6-3 in 2004.

What they said
"Paraguay are a team who have some great players at clubs in Spain and Italy, but I still think we can beat them." Ricardinho, Portugal wide-player.

All the fixtures
Brasilia
Solomon Islands - Brazil
Russia - Cuba

Rio de Janeiro
United States - Italy
Portugal - Paraguay

Have Your Say
Can Cuba spring a surprise against Russia?