Semi-final preview: A spellbinding Superclásico and a geniuses' joust
Brazil-Argentina is one of the biggest fixtures in FIFA Futsal World Cup history
Portugal and Kazakhstan clash in another intriguing semi-final
We deliver info, key points, stats and quotes
Some are calling it the biggest fixture in futsal history. A semi-final that is, somehow, bigger than the eight previous FIFA Futsal World Cup™ finals. How? Well, it pits the record champions against the reigning champions – a meliorated model of the Colombia 2016-conquering battalion. It pits arguably the two fiercest rivals in futsal, in football, in sport together for a South American Superclásico. It pits Rodrigo, Pito, Ferrao and Co against Cristian Borruto, Alan Brandi, Leandro Cuzzolino and team-mates. It is a match you simply cannot miss. Then Portugal, captained by six-time Best Player in the World Ricardinho, will face Kazakhstan, who have never appeared at this stage of the competition but boast two of Lithuania 2021’s outstanding performers in Leo Higuita and Douglas Junior.
Brazil-Argentina Wednesday, 20:00 in Kaunas Portugal-Kazakhstan Thursday, 20:00 in Kaunas
History versus recent history Brazil have won all five of their meetings with Argentina in this tournament, but has the balance of power changed? In 2016, A Seleção suffered Round-of-16 elimination – they had never previously bagged less than bronze at a Futsal World Cup – as La Albiceleste went on to triumph. Furthermore, in the arch-rivals’ last meeting, the final of the qualifying competition for Lithuania 2021, the Argentinians silenced the Brazilian crowd with a 3-1 victory in Rio Grande do Sul.
Fatigue a factor? Portugal went to extra-time in both their knockout-phase games here, while Bebe, Ricardinho, Bruno Coelho and Joao Matos – four of their five starters against Spain – are 38, 36, 34 and 34 respectively. Kazakhstan's go-to player Douglas Junior, meanwhile, has had very little rest at this tournament, playing virtually the whole game against IR Iran. Argentina also had an energy-sapping, 50-minute run-out in the last round, while Brazil have been able to limit the minutes of captain Rodrigo and reigning two-time Best Player in the World Ferrao.
Over in 40 Only three Futsal World Cup semi-finals have gone to extra time. Brazil beat Belgium 5-3 in a shootout in 1989, while Spain edged Brazil 5-4 on spot-kicks in 2004 and beat Italy 3-2 after 50 minutes in 2008.
Milestone in sight No player has, surprisingly, lifted the FIFA Futsal World Cup trophy more than four years apart. Guitta and Rodrigo, key members of Brazil’s Thailand 2012-winning squad, would set a new record if they claim glory at Lithuania 2021. Ten Argentinians could also become world champions five years after doing so in Colombia.
Fans need not worry about matches becoming low-scoring in the last four. The 16 previous semi-finals have averaged almost six goals per game, with the highest-scoring Italy’s 7-4 victory over Argentina in 2004.
Argentina will become the third nation to win 30 Futsal World Cup matches if they taste victory. Brazil and Spain are on 57 and 48 wins respectively.
“Another derby is coming. We accomplished what we set out to: play seven games. Now we will play for the coveted place in the final, against a team we know a lot, and we play against a lot.” Matias Lucuix