Arguably the three tournament favourites all face their first challenge outside the group stages on Wednesday, with Brazil, Spain and Portugal all taking to the court in their bid to reach the last eight.
FIFA.comlooks over their trio of games as Iran, Kazakhstan and Costa Rica all plot upsets.
Match of the day
*Spain-Kazakhstan, Medellin, 17:30 (local time)
*It’s only just over seven months since these two clashed at UEFA Futsal EURO 2016, but this time around the encounter is set to have quite a different feel to it. When Spain triumphed 5-3 both sides were without some of their top talent.
Fernandao, Aicardo and Lozano, all of whom missed the tournament through injury, are amongst their squad in Colombia – with the latter pair scoring three in the 4-3 win over Morocco. Kazakhstan, meanwhile, were missing suspended goalkeeper Higuita in that semi-final clash – a player who is so pivotal to how they play – so it’s set to be a whole new encounter this time out.
The other matchesHaving been unable to put Azerbaijan to bed in Medellin, Iran have paid a high price in being paired with tournament favourites Brazil in the first knockout round. Having conceded more than twice as many as Brazil, while registering just a third of A Seleção’s tally at the other end, the odds are heavily stacked against them. The reigning champions will also have newly-crowned all-time top-scorer Falcao fully focussed on claiming the title after setting that new benchmark. A worrying prospect.
Portugal, similarly ranked high amongst the favourites, present Costa Rica with a daunting task. While the Central Americans are enjoying their first foray into the latter stages of the Futsal World Cup, the sight of an in-form Ricardinho – with nine goals in his last two games – is enough to bring any team out in a cold sweat. But having given Argentina a serious run for their money in their 2-2 draw to round out Group E, Los Ticos will be enthused by the proof that they can frustrate teams with more perceived quality on the court. Though this is likely to be another step up in difficulty.
Player to watch*Tiago Brito (Portugal)
*While Ricardinho has, quite rightly, been garnering all the plaudits from Portugal’s last couple of games, spare a thought for Tiago Brito. No goals to his name as of yet, but the Braga pivot has been quietly making the team tick with four assists to his name so far, and a key instrument in the Portuguese machine. Should Costa Rica solely focus on Ricardinho, expect him to gleefully utilise the space.
The stat 29 – Brazil bagged ten more goals than any other side in the group stage, featuring nine different goal-scorers – a tally only matched by Russia. Brazil managed an impressive eight different scorers in their final group game versus Mozambique.
The words“As a team we haven’t been very good, we haven’t deployed our tactics as well as we can and that’s what normally makes us stand out. But now we have to focus on Kazakhstan, which is going to be a pretty challenging game.” Lozano, Spain
Brazil-Iran (17:30, Bucaramanga)
Spain-Kazakhstan (17:30, Medellin)
Portugal-Costa Rica (20:00, Cali)