The first round of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 comes to an end this Thursday, on a matchday when six of the eight teams involved are still in with a chance of reaching the next round. FIFA.com takes a closer look at the action.
The big match
Czech Republic-Iran, Group D, 9 October, 10.30 local time, Brasilia
A quick look at the Group D standings underlines the crucial nature of this match. Iran have seven points and need a draw to reach the second group phase, while for opponents Czech Republic, on six points, only a win will do.
Both sides have exhibited similar styles of play since touching down in Brazil, with tactical discipline the order of the day. The key to victory could, therefore, lie with those two men most likely to create something out of nothing: Roman Mares of Czech Republic and Iran's Vahid Shamsaee. Also sure to play decisive roles are the respective keepers, Tomas Meller and Mostafa Nazari, who have shown great consistency between the sticks.
The other games
In the section's other match, reigning world and European champions Spain take on the already eliminated Uruguay, seeking a win that would ensure their place in the next round as group winners. After a stumbling start, Venancio Lopez's charges have gone from strength to strength and not conceded a goal in their last two-and-a-half matches. All the signs, therefore, point to another victory for La Roja.
Over in Group C, leaders Ukraine are expected to add to their seven-point tally when they take on China PR, a side that have lost all their previous nine games at the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Though top of the table on goal difference, the Europeans must stay focused if they wish to guarantee a first-place finish and thus avoid the most potentially difficult second-round opponents.
Over in Brasilia, meantime, the outcome of the game between Argentina and Guatemala will also have a huge bearing on the Group C standings. The Albiceleste go into the match needing just a draw to progress, given their one-point advantage and superior goal difference, though they can still snatch top spot from Ukraine. The Chapines, for their part, will be determined to catch the Argentinians off-guard and secure their own place in the next phase.
Note: To learn more about how teams that finish level on points are separated, click on Regulations FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 on the right-hand column and go to page 24.
Valeriy Legchanov, Ukraine
The 28-year-old wide player has been his team's orchestrator-in-chief during the group stage, making full use of his vision and decision-making to keep the Ukrainian machine constantly ticking over. And the Energy Lviv player also knows where the goal is, having weighed in with two strikes.
23 - The number of FIFA Futsal World Cup appearances made by Spain's Javi Rodriguez. The Barcelona star moved ahead of his compatriot Julio's mark of 22 against Czech Republic, and now lies third in the all-time list behind former Brazilian internationals Manoel Tobias (31 appearances) and Fininho (27).
What they said
"Guatemala have made huge progress since the 2000 World Cup and against Argentina we'll be going all out to qualify. It's difficult but we're going to give it a go," Carlos Merida, Guatemala player.
Have your say
Can Guatemala make it through to the next round? Click on 'Add your comment' to give us your verdict.