Courtesy: UEFA.comMarca and Sporting going for bronzeA year ago Baptistella and Déo faced off in the final but on Sunday they will instead compete for third place as Marca Futsal and Sporting Clube de Portugal look to bow out on a high.Saturday 28 April 2012
by Paul Saffer
& José Nuno Pimentel
A year ago the UEFA Futsal Cup final featured an Italian side playing Sporting Clube de Portugal but this time it will be for third place that the Lisbon club encounter Marca Futsal on Sunday.
Marca, who knocked out holders ASD Cittŕ di Montesilvano C/5 in the elite round, fell 3-0 to MFK Dinamo Moskva in the semi-finals in Lleida on Friday, after which 2011 runners-up Sporting were beaten 5-1 by hosts FC Barcelona. Baptistella, who like Marca team-mate Adriano Foglia helped Montesilvano win in Almaty last year before joining their Serie A rivals, bemoaned the slow start against Dinamo.
"They started much better than us, they were more focused on the match from the beginning and we took five to ten minutes to start playing for real," Baptistella told UEFA.com. "But then we become more confident and it ended with us playing in Dinamo's faces.
"Unfortunately, the ball hit the post many times. Last year I had the experience of playing [in the semis] against Benfica, when we scored the goals and then survived so many shots and we ended winning the match. It was the same kind of game [against Dinamo] but unfortunately this time I was on the losing team."
On the losing team a year ago against Baptistella and Montesilvano, Déo was suspended for Sporting's semi-final. "Being out was very tough," he said. "You always have the feeling that you could have helped the team but in general we weren't good. We faced an above average team but the result was a bit harsh on us and Sporting could have done a little more."
Déo can return on Sunday but does not have the rematch with Baptistella and Foglia in his mind. "It's not about revenge but a question of honour to come here and win at least a game in this competition. Our goal was to win but unfortunately we couldn't do it."
Looking back at their season as a whole, not least the comeback from 4-1 down to get the draw they needed with Iberia Star Tbilisi to make the finals, Déo added: "We have to say that this campaign was positive, we cannot forget what happened at Odivelas. We knew that here we were going to face three very good teams and now we have to go on working to see if we get back to the UEFA Futsal Cup next season, and win it."
Baptistella is also determined that Marca end their first European season on a high. "We are going to fight for third place as we know it will also be important for us in our debut campaign," he said.
Courtesy: UEFA.comBarcelona face 'Spanish' Dinamo in finalFC Barcelona will aim to lift the UEFA Futsal Cup at the first attempt when they stage Sunday's final in Lleida but MFK Dinamo Moskva's Spanish coach Faustino Pérez is plotting their downfall.Saturday 28 April 2012
by Paul Saffer
FC Barcelona will aim to lift the UEFA Futsal Cup at the first time of asking when they stage Sunday's final against MFK Dinamo Moskva in Lleida, but compatriot Faustino Pérez is plotting their downfall.
Spanish sides won five of the first ten finals of this competition and it was Pérez who actually triumphed in the inaugural two in 2002 and 2003 at the helm of Playas de Castellón, his team including the man who will captain Barcelona on Sunday, Javi Rodríguez. Barcelona have performed superbly on their debut European campaign, and the Pavelló Barris Nord will be packed with their fans again for the final, but Dinamo are not lacking in experience, several of their team having won this trophy in Murcia five years ago.
Barcelona showed their worth with a fine 5-1 defeat of Sporting Clube de Portugal on Friday, and as they attempt to add one of the few European trophies missing for the famed club, coach Marc Carmona said: "This will be the most important match in Barça's futsal history. We have played important matches in the past but this one will full of emotion for our fans."
Dinamo overcame Marca Futsal 3-0 even without the hero of the 2007 final, Pula, who will return from suspension on Sunday, but Pérez said of the other last-four game: "I think that we all have seen and agree that Barcelona were superior [to Sporting] from start to finish; they showed ambition and got the reward they deserved. There were only azulgrana colours for the entire match."
While Dinamo's noisy section of 200 fans will not be able to dominate vocally on Sunday as they did in the semi-final, Pérez is expecting "an even match" and had a special tribute to former Spain skipper Rodríguez. "I think he's a special case, he started late in futsal and will end late," he said. "He's a model professional and a complete player."
Carmona, whose rapport with Pérez was clear at the pre-final press conference, mused: "Tino knows what we are going to do on Sunday because we have been playing like this for two years.
"It will be important to score first but it will not be all. I think that Spanish teams have an advantage over the majority of the European teams if we take into account the tactical knowledge but this Dinamo side are the most Spanish team outside the Spanish league, because of Tino, because of the players that have played in Spain and because you saw on Friday the similarity with the best Spanish teams.
"We played well on Friday with and without the ball but my players are aware that it will now be more demanding. [Dinamo] are a better team, individually and collectively. We have to be even better than against Sporting."
Courtesy: UEFA.comLozano wants to spark Barcelona partyFC Barcelona hope to add a futsal European title to the ones they have won in many other sports, and forward Sergio Lozano predicts Sunday's final will be a "party".Saturday 28 April 2012
by Dunia Martin Hernández
& Paul Saffer
FC Barcelona have been European champions at football, basketball, handball, ice hockey and roller hockey, and on Sunday hope to add futsal to that roll of honour.
In their first UEFA Futsal Cup campaign they have made it to the final, which they will stage in front of as partisan crowd in Lleida against MFK Dinamo Moskva. While as a club Barcelona's European experience pales against Dinamo, they had a set of players with plenty of international honours between them, not least forward Sergio Lozano, the man of the match in the 5-1 semi-final defeat of Sporting Clube de Portugal as part of a spectacular first season with the Blaugrana.
Lozano was the two-goal hero of Spain's dramatic 3-1 extra-time UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 final defeat of Russia a couple of months ago in Zagreb, the beaten team containing several Dinamo players. However, he is not among the Barcelona players to have won the UEFA Futsal Cup with previous clubs.
Asked whether his feats in Croatia have given him any words of wisdom to pass on to his team-mates, Lozano told UEFA.com: "No, I need advice from those with experience in these types of games. The truth is that the final of the European Futsal Championship was very nice, we went through a lot but we had a very good ending. On Sunday I hope we can repeat that and celebrate."
Of course this time Lozano and his team-mates will have home advantage. "If the atmosphere in the semi-finals was amazing, in the final I hope for the same or even better," he said. "I'm sure everything will be fantastic and it will be a party. We hope to contribute to it. We always work for the fans' enjoyment and we'll work to win the UEFA Futsal Cup. It is clear that without them everything will be more difficult."
Another star of the semi-final was goalkeeper Paco Sedano, who saved a penalty having himself hit the post with a long clearance a few minutes earlier. He struck a confident note, saying: "We believe we can win it. The goal was to reach the final and we have already achieved it.
"Dinamo are a great team, full of stars. We have been impressive but on Sunday we have to be even better. It will be a great match, maybe one of the best that could be seen in Europe since Dinamo would certainly be fighting to win the league here in Spain."
Courtesy: UEFA.comGladiator Popov ready to defend DinamoMFK Dinamo Moskva goalkeeper Aleksei Popov says the atmosphere generated by the fans of final opponents FC Barcelona makes him feel like a gladiator and explained his ambitious drive.Sunday 29 April 2012
by Dmitri Mamykin
MFK Dinamo Moskva goalkeeper Aleksei Popov admits that FC Barcelona are slight favourites to win Sunday's UEFA Futsal Cup final – but he points out they were against Chelsea FC in the UEFA Champions League too.
Popov was in the Dinamo squad that won the trophy in Murcia five years ago and has since graduated to first choice, keeping a fine clean sheet in Friday's 3-0 semi-final defeat of Marca Futsal. That means a showdown with the hosts in Lleida.
"Considering home advantage I think Barcelona should be considered as slight favourites," Popov told UEFA.com. "But Barcelona were favourites against Chelsea and also Real Madrid were favourites against Bayern München in the recent Champions League semi-finals."
In fact, so were Interviú Madrid in the 2007 final against Dinamo, when the Russian champions – who had lost to the very same side 12 months before - snatched the trophy, and Popov is relishing the chance to deny the Spanish fans once again. "To be honest, for me is a huge boost even if the fans are against me," Popov said. "This huge crowd and noise transports me to the Ancient Roman era when the sport was born. It's like being a gladiator. It allows you to concentrate 100% and give everything you have."
He did that pretty well already on Friday, making 14 saves to keep out Marca. "It was a really tough match," Popov said. "The pressure was too high so despite being a goal up we allowed our opponents too much space and they were able to create some really good chances. Counterattacks were part of our game plan at that moment but we certainly didn't want to defend that deep."
Popov's crowning moment was supplying Romulo to shoot into an unguarded net with a minute to go to set up what more many neutrals was the dream final. "Barcelona have so many great players in their squad," he said. "I can't even pick out just one. This team consists of Spanish, Brazilian and Italian internationals – these are the greatest in futsal."
But there is one Spaniard on Popov's side – Dinamo's coach. "Working with Faustino Pérez is absolutely fantastic," said Popov. "He brought so many new things to our club. We concentrate a lot on the psychological aspect of the game and there is a lot of individual work with goalkeepers, unlike the experience I've had before.
"Any pundit would agree – a club can't win trophies without having a decent goalkeeper in their squad," Popov added. "So it is easy to understand, I have to constantly improve to allow my team a chance of winning. That what drives me in my career. And that's why I admire Tino's professional approach.
"What's the best thing about sport? The best thing about sport is that you always have to prove you are better. And what is the worst thing about sport? No matter how good you are, you always have to prove you are better."
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari