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Youth Olympics

Tough semi-finals to call

(FIFA.com)
Igor Cherniavskii #7 of Russia challenges Yuri of Brazil
© Getty Images
  • Men's Youth Olympic futsal semi-finals take place on 15 October
  • Egypt face Russia, Brazil take on hosts Argentina
  • "In an Olympic semi-final there’s no such thing as an easy game"

The semi-finals of the Men’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament Buenos Aires 2018 may feature very different teams, but what the two games have in common is the sheer unpredictability of the outcomes.

On one side of the draw, Egypt versus Russia promises to be a tight game decided by fine margins, while Brazil against Argentina has all the makings of a classic South American futsal derby.

Egypt-Russia

Monday 15 October, Main Futsal Hall, 18:00 (local time)

Many thought Egypt’s draw against Argentina in their opening match had a large element of luck about it. The North Africans have proven otherwise, exuding organisation and talent in their subsequent games while making the most of their chances in front of goal. That said, of the four semi-finalists, Egypt are the lowest scorers, with 15 in four matches.

Unquestionably, Egypt possess very talented individuals, with the pick of the bunch being goalkeeper Abdelrahman Algarwany and pivot Belal Elsayed.

However, they will need to be at at their best if they are to overcome a Russia side known for its speedy transitions and precise attacking play. Seven of their eight outfield players have found the net and have provided at least one assist each. Like Egypt, the key figures in the Russian team are also their keeper, Dennis Subbotin, and one of their forwards, Danil Karpuik.

The stat
41.66 - the percentage of Egypt’s shots on target that result in goals, the highest out of the four semi-finalists.

What they said
“In an Olympic semi-final there’s no such thing as an easy game. The teams that have made it this far have got what it takes to win a medal.”
Danil Samusenko, Russia forward

Brazil-Argentina

Monday 15 October, Main Futsal Hall, 20:00 (local time)

Brazil have proven to be the best team so far in the competition, justifying their label as favourites to go home with a gold medal. They are the tournament’s top scorers, have dropped the fewest amount of points and are the second most effective side in front of goal, scoring 35 per cent of their shots on target.

A Seleção boast an excellent all-round side, but the stars of the show would be their goalkeeper Francoar, forward Gulhermao, winger Wesley and defender Neguinho. Recent history is also on their side, having beaten Argentina in the final of the U-18 South American Futsal Championships 3-2 which perhaps gives them an edge heading into this semi-final.

That said, like in any derby match, keeping the emotions in check will be vital. This will be especially important for the hosts, for whom Buenos Aires 2018 has been a veritable rollercoaster of emotions thus far.

If La Albiceleste do manage to banish the memories of a torturous group stage and get their fans behind them, then they should be an opponent to be feared.

The stat
15 - The number of assists Brazilian players have made, more than any of the other semi-finalists. Opponents Argentina have managed ten.

What they said
"They’re just another opponent. Perhaps players are more fired-up to play in this fixture because of the history, but at the end of the day it’s a semi-final and we’d want to win it regardless of who we were facing."
Santiago Rufino, Argentina winger

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