Quarter-final preview: Two huge rematches in store
RFU and Argentina are set to meet in a repeat of the 2016 final
Portugal edged upcoming opponents Spain in the last UEFA Futsal EURO decider
Can Morocco stun record champions Brazil?
Morocco-Brazil Sunday, 16:00 in Vilnius
RFU-Argentina Sunday, 18:30 in Kaunas
Spain-Portugal Monday, 17:30 in Vilnius
IR Iran-Kazakhstan Monday, 20:00 in Kaunas
How can Morocco stifle Brazil’s individual brilliance? Perhaps no other quarter-final has a clearer favourite than this match, as record champions Brazil aim to clinch their sixth title in Lithuania. “This Brazil team was built to win the World Cup,” Ferrao recently told FIFA.com. By contrast, Morocco celebrated reaching their first-ever quarter-final as if they had won the whole tournament. The pressure undoubtedly rests on the shoulders of Ferrao & Co, as anything else from here will be a bonus for Round-of-16 hero and hat-trick scorer Soufiane El-Mesrar and his compatriots. The key for the North Africans will be to deliver a team performance that stifles the individual brilliance of exceptional players such as Ferrao, Pito and Leozinho.
Can RFU exact revenge on Argentina for the 2016 final? Both teams have nine players here in Lithuania who were also part of their squads for the final five years ago, and the memories of that day still burn brightly for all involved. Do Argentina have the edge again this time? While Eder Lima, who scored a hat-trick for RFU in the 2016 final, has yet to play a minute in Lithuania, Argentina’s Brandi – who netted a brace that day – is still in fine goalscoring form this time around, with five goals to his name at this tournament.
Kazakh steels versus Iranian flair Kazakh fans will be hoping that their quarter-final against IR Iran is decided in normal time, as Team Melli won two penalty shootouts and another match after extra-time at the last Futsal World Cup. On the other hand, the AFC representatives might want to avoid another open encounter like their Round-of-16 epic against Uzbekistan, as scoring against Kazakhstan and their formidable goalkeeper Higuita, aided by defensive stalwart Douglas, has proven extremely difficult here in Lithuania. The Falcons boast the best defensive record of the tournament, having conceded just two goals in four matches.
Will a Spain victory clear the way for their third World Cup win? When Spain beat Portugal in the second round of the 2000 and 2004 tournaments, they went on to become world champions. Will another win here be a good omen for their third title? Whatever the case, Portugal captain Ricardinho and his team-mates will go into the match full of confidence, having won to the UEFA Futsal EURO final in 2018 to beat Spain for the first time ever in a competitive fixture. This all-European quarter-final will pit several club-mates against one another, including skippers Carlos Ortiz and Ricardinho, who both played for ACCS Paris last season.
"RFU will be very tough opponents. We’re both big teams and it will be a replay of the World Cup final in 2016. There’s no pressure on us because we became world champions that day. We need to be relaxed and brave and try to play our game. That way we can win or lose without ever losing our identity." Matias Lucuix, Argentina coach "I always see pressure as a positive thing. It’s a sign that you’ve achieved something, and with that comes added responsibility. But I always say that the top title contenders are the teams that have already won the World Cup: Argentina, Brazil and Spain. Compared to them we’re outsiders who want to triumph. We need to work hard without piling pressure on our shoulders, as our aim is to move forward one step at a time." Ricardinho, Portugal captain