Lithuania 2021: Round of 16 preview
Holders Argentina face a tough Paraguay test
A familial subplot adds intrigue to Brazil-Japan
Nine nations are out to reach the quarter-finals for the first time
Wednesday, 22 September RFU-Vietnam, Vilnius Venezuela-Morocco, Kaunas Thursday, 23 September Brazil-Japan, Kaunas Argentina-Paraguay, Vilnius Kazakhstan-Thailand, Kaunas Friday, 24 September Uzbekistan-IR Iran, Vilnius Portugal-Serbia, Kaunas Spain-Czech Republic, Vilnius
Banana skins Brazil, Portugal, RFU and Spain will be overwhelming favourites to advance, but beware: upsets abound in the Round of 16. At Colombia 2016, Brazil and Italy, two of the favourites for glory, were stunningly eliminated by IR Iran and Egypt respectively. Father and son PC de Oliveira guided a Falcao-headlined Brazil to the trophy in 2008. His son Arthur is now poised to play against them for Japan. The Samurai Five No15 also believes A Seleção have the world’s best three players. “For me Dyego, Ferrao and Pito, whose improvement has been absurd, are the best,” he told FIFA.com.
Brothers out to emulate brothers The Vaporaki brothers helped Argentina seize the trophy five years ago. Now the Salas siblings are aiming to help Paraguay do the same. Javier Salas and Constantino Vaporaki are both based in Italy, while Juan Salas of ElPozo Murcia regularly plays against several Argentinians at club level. Matches between these bordering nations are often tight, with La Albiceleste beating La Albirroja 2-0 in the semi-finals of the South American qualifying tournament for Lithuania 2021. White Wolves eye world-stage revenge IR Iran and Uzbekistan have met in three AFC Futsal Asian Cup finals, with the former winning them all, the last 2-1 after falling behind in 2016. Can Bakhodir Akhmedov's troops take revenge on the biggest stage of all? Nonet eye personal bests Czech Republic, Japan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Serbia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Vietnam will aim to reach a FIFA Futsal World Cup quarter-final for the first time. Of the three teams making their competition debut in Lithuania, Venezuela are the only survivors. The Golden Shoe race Ferrao is in pole position (6 goals), but Alan Brandi (5), Arthur and Adolfo Fernandez (both 4) are in close pursuit. Those sharpshooters will seek to enhance their tallies at a stage in which goals fly in. Brazil, indeed, scored 16 times in the Round of 16 in 2012, while Azerbaijan beat Thailand in a 21-goal thriller five years ago.
“It would be a dream to play against Douglas. Every player dreams of coming up against their hero, and it would be even more amazing to do it in a World Cup.” Anaskhon Rakhmatov on a potential meeting with the Kazakhstan icon in the quarter-finals