Courtesy: UEFA.comDownload the Lleida programme
The official programme for the UEFA Futsal Cup finals in Lleida is packed with interviews, statistics and everything you need to know about the four teams can can be downloaded here now.
Courtesy: UEFA.comVilla and Xavi back Barcelona futsal bidDavid Villa and Xavi Hernández are backing FC Barcelona's bid to add the UEFA Futsal Cup to their European football crown, and Torras and Javi Rodríguez appreciate their support.Thursday 26 April 2012
by Lucy Turner
& Simon Hart
The sight of blue and red ribbons on a European trophy is nothing new where FC Barcelona are concerned. But it has never been seen in futsal and as Marc Carmona's men bid to emulate their footballing counterparts by winning the UEFA Futsal Cup, it is worth noting they will do so with more than a passing interest from Josep Guardiola's side.
David Villa, who helped make the draw for the semi-finals during half-time of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final triumph against AC Milan, pairing Barcelona with Sporting Clube de Portugal in Lleida on Friday night, is an enthusiast of the small-sided game. So too Xavi Hernández, which should come as little surprise; after all, to use the broadest of brushstrokes, Barcelona's swift, short-passing game, with its focus on technical excellence, is not dissimilar to the style employed in futsal.
Villa himself accepts the similarities "especially when attacking with all those short passes between many players, handling the ball well, and keeping a lot of possession".
The Spain striker played futsal up to the age of nine, and believes it provided a good grounding, despite its slightly differing demands. "Futsal is a bit more technical than football. I also think that, because you play a shorter amount of time, there are different physical requirements, because you need constantly to run," he explains.
It is a reflection of futsal's popularity in Spain that Villa and Xavi still play the sport with friends when the opportunity allows. Xavi, as he explains, also enjoys watching. "I like the sport because you can see a player's talent," says the Blaugrana and Spain playmaker.
"Perhaps in normal football you cannot always appreciate their talent – everything is more physical and in futsal you have small details of quality, class, tactical aspects. Barcelona have put together an amazing team. Last year they almost won every title, and they're a very competitive team, it is a pleasure to watch them."
This support is gratefully received according to Jordi Torras, the Barcelona player and UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 golden boot winner in Spain's latest triumph. It is a by-product of being part of a club which promotes excellence in various sports. "We often run into the basketball, hockey, and handball squads," Torras says. "They are close to us, as we train and play on the same pitch, but there is also great support from the football players. I have met Xavi many times, and he is a real fan of this sport; he congratulates us and always has something to say."
According to Javi Rodríguez, captain of the UEFA Futsal Cup hosts, the European conquests of not just the club's footballers but also their basketball, hockey and handball players are "a source of inspiration" for the futsal team, who only won their first national title in 2011.
After their victory in the Spanish Futsal Cup in March, the futsal team paraded the trophy at Camp Nou when Barcelona played Granada CF. There is an evident mutual respect underlined by Villa as he singles out Rodríguez, who won everything there was to win as Spain captain and aided Playas de Castellón FS to the first two UEFA Futsal Cups in 2002 and 2003, as his favourite player.
"He is the best player for me, in terms of the history of this sport," Villa says. His hope is now is that Rodríguez is soon celebrating another triumph. "I hope that Barça have a good final tournament. Let's see if they can win the title. I would like to see them do well and have as much luck as possible."
Courtesy: UEFA.comCarmona calms Barcelona for Sporting semiFC Barcelona will not let Tuesday's football setback effect them for Friday's semi-final with Sporting Clube de Portugal, whose coach says the hosts are setting new standards.Thursday 26 April 2012
by Paul Saffer
Three days after FC Barcelona relinquished the UEFA Champions League title, they face another European semi-final in the UEFA Futsal Cup in Lleida on Friday night and Sporting Clube de Portugal coach Orlando Duarte believes that in this discipline the hosts are also the team to beat.
Staging this tournament 150km from the Catalan capital, Barcelona have proved impressive in their debut campaign, scoring 41 goals in six games and boasting a two-time competition winner in former Playas de Castellón FS man Javi Rodríguez and UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 top scorer Torras. Duarte, who led Sporting to the final a year ago, is clear: "Barcelona could be the best team in European futsal of recent years. I say this with all sincerity. They have a very strong squad, a good coach, a good organisation."
At what is likely to be a sold-out Pavelló Barris Nord, Barcelona are hoping to capitalise of the experience of clinching their first Spanish title last year in a play-off decider against Caja Segovia FS in front of a capacity 8,000 crowd at their usual home opposite the Camp Nou. However, they are not letting Tuesday's footballing disappointment against Chelsea FC distract them.
"We don't have more pressure to win the UEFA Futsal Cup after Barcelona's defeat in the UEFA Champions League," coach Marc Carmona said. "We will fight to give this trophy to the club, which is the only one that is missing, but we don't feel more pressure or more responsibility."
He is also not underestimating the opposition. "I said before that the other coaches will make us favourites," Carmona added. "Being favourites doesn't give you any security. Sporting's best virtue is that they are a very good team. They may have not the names that Barça or Dinamo have but they have a very good coach and are full of international experience."
Subtracting from Sporting's experience is the suspension of Brazilian winger Déo plus Buiu's knee injury. However Duarte confirmed that João Matos has recovered from his ankle problem, though he, like Alex – a 2005 winner with Action 21 Charleroi – is a booking from missing Sunday's final day.
Former Portugal coach Duarte, who believes the presence of famous footballing names like Sporting and Barcelona can only help futsal's profile, is hoping to go one better than 12 months ago when they beat hosts Kairat Almaty in the semi-finals only to then lose to ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5.
"[Our experience] may help if we have the ability to do something that we have should have done in the last edition," Duarte said. "We are going to do everything we can to win against a very strong team. But even the best teams lose. We will see if we have the capacity, the intelligence and the ability to do it. I expect an intense, high-quality match. This is a very important match for us and we want to win it."
Courtesy: UEFA.comMarca motivated for Dinamo showdownMarca Futsal coach Tiago Polido hopes to give absent goalkeeper Alexandre Feller "a present" as they face former winners MFK Dinamo Moskva, who played down their greater experience.Thursday 26 April 2012
by Paul Saffer
For the first time Marca Futsal are in the UEFA Futsal Cup finals but there is a bitter-sweet feeling as they approach Friday's last-four encounter in Lleida with 2007 winners MFK Dinamo Moskva.
The Italian team are without 40-year-old goalkeeper Alexandre Feller because of personal reasons, and his experience and personality, as well as his ability, would have been invaluable against a Dinamo side featuring several players who featured in three consecutive finals for the club, culminating in their triumph in Murcia five seasons ago.
Marca coach Tiago Polido, himself eight years Feller's junior, said: "It's very difficult for us but much more for him after such a long career not to be here in this competition. We want to see if we can give him a present. It's one more motivational reason but motivation is inside you, the motivation of champions, character.
"An opportunity like this only happens once in a lifetime and that has to be the motivation and, of course, we want to give a present to someone who we love so much. This year has been very difficult, although good. We have come through many troubles and made many sacrifices."
Not only is there contrasting experience between the clubs – Dinamo are preparing for their sixth semi-final, Marca are in their debut campaign – but also the trainers. Although Polido has coached for many years in several countries despite his young age, Dinamo's Faustino Pérez won the first two editions of the UEFA Futsal Cup, in 2002 and 2003, with Spain's Playas de Castellón FS.
However, Pérez said: "I start from zero, here that experience does not count. This is a different competition, in different circumstances. My experience comes from the 'black and white era', from many years ago. I feel that I am new to this competition and that is the message I am trying to give to my players."
Missing the man who scored the goal that clinched the 2007 title, Pula, through suspension, Pérez pointed out that Dinamo are making a return to the finals after a three-year absence, while two of the Marca team – Adriano Foglia and Baptistella – won the trophy last season with ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5.
Pérez said. "We want to use our experience only as a motivation for being here after such a long time. For some of us it's three years, seven years, nine years – as in my case – to enjoy this match, doing things well."
Polido concluded: "In these kind of games, the winners are the ones who makes fewer mistakes and we'll try to do that against a team that has incredible quality, who come from a very competitive league and have experienced players from their national teams.
"We are going to try to put Dinamo in trouble, and when we can't we will be a humble team. These competitions, above all, are not about tactics but it is at the emotional level that you win."
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari