Excitement levels at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 will be turned up a notch from Saturday onwards, as the competition's eagerly awaited second group phase gets underway. As always, FIFA.com is here to preview all the action on the 11th day of play.
The big match
Spain-Russia, Group F, 11 October, 12.30 local time, Brasilia
The battle lines have been drawn. On one side are reigning champions Spain, who have gone 148 minutes without conceding a goal and hold the second-best defensive record of the tournament thus far. On the other side are Russia, who boast the competition's most lethal attack including Brazilian-born Pula, tournament top scorer with 12 first-round goals.
The history books, however, are heavily in favour of La Roja, who have yet to lose to the Russians at the showpiece event. Following a 7-7 draw at Hong Kong 1992, La Selección won 2-0 at Spain 1996 and 3-2 at Guatemala 2000.
The other matches
Kicking off the day's action in the Brazilian capital is the all-South American duel between Argentina and Paraguay, a match whose outcome few have dared to predict. The most recent meeting between the pair ended in a 3-2 win for the Albiceleste in the play-off for third place at June's Copa America. However, the Albirroja will be buoyed by their group success over 2004 runners-up Italy and emerged victorious in their only previous clash with Argentina at a FIFA Futsal World Cup - winning 4-3 at Hong Kong 1992.
Meanwhile, anticipation is building in Rio de Janeiro where hosts Brazil are due to get their second-phase campaign underway against tournament revelations Iran. Though acutely aware of the Asian outfit's potential on the counter-attack, illustrated by their 3-3 group draw with champions Spain, the Seleção are unlikely to ditch their all-out attacking style in front of their home crowd. Iran will therefore have to put in a perfect defensive display and hope key men Vahid Shamsaee and Ali Hassanzadeh's inspired form continues. The only previous meeting between the sides at this event ended 8-3 to Brazil at Spain 1996.
Finally, Italy will be hoping to bounce back from that Paraguay reverse when they take on a fiercely competitive Ukraine side. Though both teams stand out for their tactical discipline, players such as Sandro Zanetti, Adriano Foglia, Valeriy Legchanov and Valeriy Zamyatin are all capable of moments of magic that can swing the result in their team's favour.
Player to watch
Ali Hassanzadeh (IRN)
The 21-year-old wide player grabbed a brace against Czech Republic and now has three goals to his name here at Brazil 2008. And if Iran are to spring a surprise against Brazil their No 7 will need to keep up his rich vein of goalscoring form.
5 - The number of teams in the last eight here in Brazil who also achieved the feat at Chinese Taipei 2004. Spain, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine have all made it safely through to the second phase, though Portugal, Czech Republic and United States have fallen by the wayside.
What they said
"We've been drawn in the most difficult of the two groups, but if we're disciplined and we give it everything we've got, we could perhaps reach the semi-finals." Gennadiy Lisenchuk, Ukraine coach
Have your say
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