Italian job for on-fire hosts
© Foto-net

Matchday 2 in the second round of the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 includes the titanic clash between 2004 runners-up Italy and tournament hosts Brazil, while the biggest game in Group F pairs Spain with Argentina. Russia meet Paraguay in the day’s second match in Brasilia, with Asian champions Iran taking on Ukraine in Rio to round off Sunday’s programme.

The big game
Italy-Brazil, Sunday 12 October, 10.30 local time, Rio de Janeiro
It is the clash between the 2004 runners-up and the on-fire FIFA Futsal World Cup hosts: Italy and Brazil go head-to-head in Rio de Janeiro on Matchday 2 in the second round of this year’s global showdown. Both teams started the second group stage with a win, and victory for either on Sunday would put the victors in a commanding position in the hunt for a semi-final berth.

The other games
On paper at least, the second game in Group E is a meeting between the section’s underdogs. Ukraine and Asian champions Iran have yet to put points on the board, but neither team has given up hope of making the last four. However, victory has now become essential for both in the match which kicks off at 12.30pm in Rio.

Over in Group F, the focus is on world champions Spain and their clash with Argentina. The Albiceleste were held to a 3-3 draw by Paraguay on Matchday 1, whereas Spain downed Russia to chalk up all three points. Sunday’s match promises to be an intriguing comparison between European discipline and South American flair.

Russia and Paraguay contest the day’s other game in the group. Paraguay’s draw with Argentina, who finished fourth at Chinese Taipei 2004, saw them off the mark in the standings, and they will be hoping for another successful outing against the eastern Europeans. For their part, the Russians have their backs to the wall and must win to retain a realistic shout of making the last four.

The player
Mostafa Nazari, Iran
The Iran keeper turned in a scintillating display against Brazil, restricting the highest-scoring team at this FIFA Futsal World Cup to just a single goal. The Iranians will again turn to their 1.78m (5 ft 10 in) shot-stopper to provide a rock-solid platform against Ukraine.

The stat
8
– The eight fairest teams at the event make up the field for the second round. World champions Spain currently top the Fair Play rankings in Brazil.

What they said
"Every game at a World Cup is important, but there’s none more important to us than the one against Iran. We mustn’t blow it," Fedir Pylypiv, Ukraine player

All the fixtures
Brasilia
Spain-Argentina (10.30)
Russia-Paraguay (12.30)

Rio de Janeiro

Italy-Brazil (10.30)
Ukraine-Iran (12.30)