Saturday’s match for third place at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 is an all-European affair, with Russia and Italy meeting at the Maracanazinho in Rio de Janeiro to contest the bronze medal. FIFA.com previews the clash between the 2004 runners-up and Oleg Ivanov’s team.
Russia-Italy, Rio de Janeiro, Saturday 18 October, 10.30 am (local)
The match between Russia and Italy promises to be a free-flowing and entertaining exhibition of futsal. The former, the second-highest scorers at the tournament, take on an Azzurra side renowned for its tactical nous and finesse.
Alessandro Nuccorini’s charges will be seeking to erase the memory of their bitter semi-final defeat by Spain, and round off the tournament on a winning note. Naturally, the same goes for the east Europeans and their star turn, Pula, the competition's leading marksman. The Russians were left to ponder what might have been after their semi-final against Brazil, as a 4-2 defeat barely reflected the true balance of play.
The key to success
The match for third place could well hinge on mental strength. The Italians have just one day to shake off their disappointment from the semi-final, and must somehow rekindle their desire after coming so near to a place in the final. Russia may enjoy a slight psychological edge, as their semi-final loss to the hosts was not entirely unexpected, and occurred in far less dramatic circumstances.
Adriano Foglia was Italy's stand-out performer against Spain, earning his side a second bite at the cherry with a sublime equaliser and energetic all-round display, before agonisingly putting through his own goal in the very last second. The crowd will be watching closely to see how the Italian No10 responds to that cruel twist of fate.
3 – Saturday will be Russia’s third appearance in the bronze-medal match at the FIFA Futsal World Cup. They defeated Ukraine to claim a podium place at Spain 1996, but went home empty-handed after losing to Portugal four years later.
"We have to turn our attention to the future. I felt pain in my knee in the last minute, but I’ll do my best to help us win the bronze medal," Pula, Russia player