The final of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Spain 1996 ended with Brazil claiming their third world crown at the expense of the host nation. Now, in an intriguing twist of fate, La Roja have the chance to match that impressive feat here at Brazil 2008.
Spain were victors at Guatemala 2000, where they defeated the Auriverde in the final, as well as at Chinese Taipei 2004, where they ushered the Seleção to a semi-final exit. So which of these two futsal giants will take the honours at the sixth edition of the global competition?
"Everyone was talking about this final, but I think that we've always had our feet on the ground. We were aware that Brazil, perhaps because of the way they play, would make it through more easily," Spanish star Kike tells FIFA.com. "But that's not our style. We're always made to suffer, our game is more tactical and less easy on the eye but, fortunately, we're in the last game of the competition once more."
The experienced defensive player is still slightly shaken by the events of La Selección's nerve-jangling semi-final against Italy, decided by an Adriano Foglia own goal in the last second of extra time. "I've played in a lot of games, but never one that's ended like that. Our games against Italy are always tightly contested though," said the El Pozo player.
"Our game's about building a lead and then holding onto it. We did the hard work by opening the scoring but then we defended too deep and got into trouble. But we proved capable of bouncing back and stayed focused right to the end."
Past and future
Kike is one of three surviving members of the 2000- and 2004-title winning squads, the other two being Luis Amado and Javi Rodriguez, and as such is well-placed to compare those sides with the current crop. "For one thing, I'm much older now!" grins the experienced performer, "But these squads don't really have much in common."
"I think the squad in Guatemala was the best generation of futsal players Spain has ever produced and, though I really wish it were so, I doubt we'll see another like it," says Kike. "The squad at Chinese Taipei was a strange one. We had problems going into the tournament; Daniel (Spain's ten-goal top scorer in 2000) was out injured... But the defeat against Italy (in the second group phase) made us roll up our sleeves and show our character. Now we're coming to the end of an era and a big overhaul is round the corner. We'll see what the future holds."
On the verge of making his 21st FIFA Futsal World Cup appearance, is Kike thinking of hanging up his trainers after Sunday's final? "I've not made a firm decision, although I do think the journey is coming to an end," says the 30-year-old defender.
"That said, now's not the time to be thinking about it. Decisions like that need to be taken calmly and without hurrying. But World Cups do tend to signal the end of an era. I think that's quite healthy."
Next up, Brazil
Flipping back to the present, Kike gives his verdict on this weekend's all-important clash in Rio de Janeiro: "How do you beat Brazil? With hard work, humility and togetherness - all things this squad has. And most of all it's important not to be overwhelmed. Yes they can beat you, but you can also beat them. That's something we're very clear about and have proved in the past."
"Spain always believe they'll be champions. Then if we lose, we'll congratulate our opponents and move on. That's what sport is about," the player tells FIFA.com as the interview draws to a close. "Having said that, beating Brazil in Brazil would be something else. Right from the moment we knew the event would be hosted here, we wanted to be in this situation, playing this match, savouring the atmosphere and everything surrounding it."
"Only the match will show whether we've got what it takes to win. We respect them and we know they're a tremendous national side, but we're very confident in our own ability."