Italy

The past
Despite boasting a highly competitive domestic futsal scene, Italy have yet to win a single FIFA Futsal World Cup in five attempts - though they do have one final appearance to their name. Italy made their first showing in the competition at Netherlands 1989, the tournament’s inaugural edition, and went on to appear in the next two finals, though all three attempts were to end in disappointment. After the failure to qualify for Guatemala 2000, many doubted the Italians' ability to prove their quality on the world stage, but they came roaring back to take the runners-up spot at Chinese Taipei 2004 followed by a creditable third place four years later in Brazil.

The present
Italy had a relatively comfortable journey to the finals of Thailand 2012, with successive wins over Poland, Bulgaria and Romania putting them top of their group in the European qualifiers before going on to beat Norway over two legs. As well as only conceding five times in five games in qualifying, the Italians’ 26 goals scored meant they boasted the second most-prolific attacking line-up – inferior only to two-time world champions Spain.

The future
Coach Roberto Menichelli has made sweeping changes to the side that came third at Brazil 2008. Only two players, Marcio Forte and Saas Assis, survived the cull and the pair returned the favour by scoring vital goals in the opening leg of their qualifying play-off tie against Norway. Menichelli, who himself played for Italy at Hong Kong 1992, was full of praise for his side but also sounded a note of caution. “We achieved our main objective by getting to Thailand, but after the win against Norway it won’t be easy to maintain our intensity,” he said in the wake of the play-off triumph. “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us and helped us realise our goals to date.”

Facts and figures
Key players
Saad Assis, Marcio Forte, Gabriel Lima, Humberto Honorio

Qualifying in numbers
Italy’s progress in Group 2 of the European qualifiers began with a 5-2 win against Poland, followed up by a 10-1 demolition of Bulgaria and a 4-2 defeat of Romania. In the play-offs against Norway, the Italians racked up a sizeable advantage when winning the opening leg 5-0 away from home. They subsequently recorded a 2-0 victory in the return leg, thus breezing through to Thailand with a 7-0 aggregate score.

The stat
10 – The number of goals Italy netted against Bulgaria in the second of their Group 2 matches, more than any other team managed to score in a single qualifying match for this FIFA Futsal World Cup. Ten is also the total number of different players who managed to score for Italy during the course of their qualifying campaign.