Marquinho plays it cool
© Foto-net

Brazil's semi-final clash with Russia might be just around the corner, but judging by the relaxed mindset of Auriverde wideman Marquinho you would think it was just another game. Despite being the oldest member of the Brazil squad at 34, this is Marquinho's first appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup finals, which makes his phlegmatic approach to tomorrow's high-stakes clash all the more remarkable.

Gaining the confidence of coach Paulo Cesar de Oliveira has been no easy task for the man who plays his club futsal for Inter Movistar in Spain. But after establishing himself as a key component in the Brazil set-up, he has run out in six of the host nation's seven games at the tournament to date.

All of which makes the No11 well qualified to tell the secret behind Brazil's implacable march to the last four. "It's the defence," he reveals. "Brazilian players like to attack and score goals, but now they know how to mark opponents and play a tactical game. And that means we can strike the perfect balance."

The Brazilian rearguard had been pierced just once before their defeat of Ukraine in the final group game, with Valeriy Zamyatin's opening goal ending a record of 227 minutes without conceding. And although the Ukrainians went on to score twice more, Marquinho does not believe Brazil will be dropping their guard.

"We played a pretty relaxed game but that was only to be expected," he says. "We were surprised to go a goal down and we had to work a little harder than we thought we would. The good thing was it showed we can come from behind, which we haven't had to do at the tournament before yesterday."

Russia back for more
Despite Russia's 7-0 reverse to the Brazilians in the group phase, the veteran is not surprised to see them in the semis. "They're a tough side who've shown a lot of class at this World Cup and in the matches leading up to it. They did very well at the European Championships last year too."

And when asked if that win will serve as a benchmark for the Brazilians, Marquinho is adamant. "Of course it does. You're always learning. We need to go back over that game and see how they have improved since then. All the same, if we can produce the same kind of performance, we'll have a great chance of going through to the final."

Should the hosts go through, the winger is reluctant to say whom the hosts might meet there. "Spain and Italy know each other inside out and there won't be much between them. We need to analyse that game very closely but no matter which of them gets to the final they will have deserved it."

For the time being, though, Marquinho has Russia on his mind and is anxious to play down Brazil's status as favourites. "We are well aware of the pressure that's on us. We're at home, after all, and our fans are very demanding. But they know as well as we do that matches are won and lost on the pitch, not in the build-up, and that once the referee blows his whistle you have to run hard to win. We need to stay calm and play at our own pace, not the pace people want us to play at."