Tuesday sees a showdown in Rio de Janeiro between Argentina and Russia in Group F with a place in the last four at FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 at stake. The eastern Europeans will go into the final game boosted by their last-minute 5-4 win over Paraguay, a victory which handed them a two-point cushion over their South American rivals in the table. While a draw for coach Oleg Ivanov’s Russia team should see them progress into the semi-finals, nothing less than a win for the Albiceleste would be good enough.
Ahead of the crucial encounter, Argentina’s FIFA Futsal World Cup debutant Matias Lucuix took time to speak to FIFA.com about the game against Russia and his experiences so far at Brazil 2008.
“We knew that the game against Spain would be very important, and we wanted to come away with three points. We did our very best against the reigning world champions. We’ll give everything we can now in the game against Russia, as a semi-final spot is up for grabs,” Lucuix told FIFA.com.
The Albiceleste no 9 knows that his side will have their work cut out against a fearsome Russian attack that includes Brazilian-born Pula, the tournament top scorer. “It’s going to be a difficult game and we’ll have to be well-organised in defence," says Lucuix.
"With Pula and Sirilo in their ranks, they are a very strong team. We must be very careful to track back as their counter-attacking ability is one of their main strengths.”
Brazil tie the reward
The determination in Lucuix’s eyes betrays his desire to reach the last four of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, where an encounter against South American rivals Brazil is a very real possibility. “We will give everything we can to achieve our aim. We’ll be going into the game totally focused. We know we have to defeat Russia and we believe we can do it,” he said.
The 22-year-old Lucuix, playing in his first edition of the showpiece event, has enjoyed an impressive tournament so far, scoring three times in five appearances for the Albiceleste. “I’m just getting my first taste of a World Cup here. I’ve played well at times, less so at other times, but, on the whole, I think I’ve made a positive contribution to the team’s success,” a modest Lucuix told FIFA.com.
Lucuix at home in Spain
In a team with many more experienced colleagues, Lucuix’s easy-going nature is perhaps one of his strengths. Though he may appear extremely relaxed on the pitch, his shooting ability and assured technique on the ball can be breathtaking. Qualities that are no doubt appreciated at Spanish club Caja Segovia, where Lucuix plies his trade. “Futsal in Spain is at a different level. The league there is more professional. We train every day and players can make a living from the game,” said the Argentinian wide player.
“It really is an honour to be playing in Spain, as I believe the league there is stronger than the Brazilian or Italian leagues. You can learn a lot playing there as you’re up against the best players in the world every week.”
Tuesday’s intriguing encounter will decide if Lucuix’s first FIFA Futsal World Cup adventure continues or not. And after losing 2-1 to Spain on Sunday, he would surely relish the prospect of another meeting with his adopted country in the final on October 19. Albeit with a different outcome, of course.