Nowadays, Italy rate as one of Europe's most consistent futsal nations, although the early years were anything but plain sailing. The Italians did contest the first FIFA Futsal World Cup in the Netherlands back in 1989, but were eliminated in the second group phase. The next two global match-ups also failed to produce any significant success, and Italy missed out altogether on the 2000 finals in Guatemala. Their greatest success to date came just four years later, however, with the runners-up spot in Chinese Taipei after an unlucky 2-1 defeat by Spain in the Final. The Italians boast a much better record on the continental stage, winning the European crown in front of their home crowd in 2003 with a 1-0 triumph in the final against Ukraine. Spain again provided the opposition in last year's European final, the Iberians once more coming out on top by a 3-1 margin.
Italy breezed to a place at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 in impressive style, emerging from a group containing Kazakhstan, Cyprus and Andorra with maximum points and a towering goal difference of +27 after scoring 28 times and conceding just once. Adriano Foglia starred with six goals apiece against outclassed opposition. Moving on to the two-legged final qualifying play-off against Croatia, the Italians won the home leg in Pescara 6-3 with another brace from deadly Foglia. For the return match, the Italians switched their focus to defending, completing a rock-solid 3-0 victory to stride into the global finals.
Once they arrive in Brazil, Italy will be aiming to build on their burgeoning status as a major power in world futsal. After coming second to Spain at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in 2004 and the UEFA Futsal Championship in 2007, the Italians will be determined to go one better in South America.
Facts and figures
Andreas Bearzi (1996), Gabriele Calcea (1996)
Adriano Foglia, Adriano Foglia, Alexandre Feller, Edgar Bertoini and Sandro Zanetti
After scoring 28 goals and conceding just one in claiming maximum points from three group matches, Italy comfortably won their play-off against Croatia with a 9-3 aggregate score.
The numbers game
5 - a fifth FIFA Futsal World Cup finals appearance beckons for the Italians, who have only missed out on the finals once, back in 2000.