Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

2022 UEFA Futsal Euro Preview Group D (Part 6)

Posted on 18 January 2022 by Felipe Lima
Group D – Georgia, Spain, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Last up group D. Georgia, Spain, Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

GEORGIA (debutants)

Photo Credit – UEFA Official Programme

Georgia could be the debutants to make the most noise and surprise their competitors. They may be new to this level of competition, but the level of experience runs through this squad.

In 2018, France were the only debutants and they made their entrance in style. They only narrowly lost to Azerbaijan 5-3 and held Spain to an exciting 4-4 draw. Georgia find themselves in a similar situation facing both of these teams in this group D.

They topped their group F in the qualifying round in front of Germany, Kovoso and Austria. The results showed the capabilities of this squad, they beat Germany 3-1, Austria 9-2 and Kosovo 6-1.

Embed from Getty Images

To the surprise of many, they went to book their place in final tournament coming runners up ahead of France and Armenia. The Russians were too much for them to handle but expect to see a well drilled team.

Zviad Kupatadze, is an inspiriration for those wanting to prolong their playing years. The 43-year-old goalkeeper playing years date back to the early 2000’s. He has also previously won the UEFA Futsal Cup with Ugra.

Pivot Elisandro is another player to have achieved the same honour. Thales, Roninho and Vilian could all add their know-how to help this nation succeed.

Coach Avtandil Asatiani has been in charge of this squad since 2016 and his team sit in 31st position in the Futsal World ranking.

Asatkani is an ex-international having coached in Malta and Georgia. Since leaving the Tbilisi State University team his whole focus has been on taking the international team to the next stage.

Form:

L: 3-0 Russia (21/04/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 3-2 France (09/04/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 3-2 Armenia (10/03/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 5-0 Armenia (05/03/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

L: 4-0 Russia (02/02/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

Squad List:

Coach

Avtandil Asatiani

Goalkeepers:

Tornike Bukia (Kemi, Finland) and Zviad Kupatadze (Gazprom Yugra, Russia)

Defenders

Roninho (Halle-Goic, Belgium), Archil Sebiskveradze (FC SMS Viimsi, Estonia), Thales Feito (Candoso, Portugal) and Shota Topuria (Telasi, Georgia)

Forwards

Bruno Petry Branco (Jaen, Spain), Chaguinha (Palma Futsal, Spain), Elisandro (Braga, Portugal), Giorgi Ghavtadze (PMFK Sibiryak, Siberia), Vakhtang Kekelia (FC Sipar, Tajikistan), Nikoloz Kurtanidze (PSP, Tbilisi, Georgia), Irakli Todua (Telasi, Georgia) and Vilian (Ugra Yugorsk, Russia)

https://twitter.com/UEFAFutsal/status/1483105683507662852

SPAIN

Photo Credit – UEFA Official Programme

This may be the first time of UEFA Futsal Euro that Spain doesn’t come in as out and out favourites. It may just be what they in order to take centre stage again. They have never gone two consecutive Euros without winning the title.

“La Roja” are undeniably the European giants. So, you can begin to understand, in the entire history of this tournament, they have always been amongst the best four teams in the tournament. Every single edition.

The Spanish have only not reached the final in 2003 and 2014 and have become champions an astounding seven times 1996, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2016). Their domination is evident.

The story follows a similar pattern in the world stage. Since the begin of FIFA Futsal World Cup Spain has been among the top four for every edition, but 2016 and 2021.

Last year, Portugal sentenced Spain to an early exit in the quarter-finals but Spain in second place for world titles, only behind Brazil.

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By their standards, it can’t be denied that Spain is overdue some international success and they will attack this task in the same way the bulls run through the streets of Pamplona.

Ranked number one in the world may come with a target on your back but when you can spare players of the calibre of Juanjo, Marc Tolra, Solano, Bebe and Lin you can count yourself lucky.

Prior to the start of the tournament tomorrow, the announcement of the Futsal Planet awards will be held this evening at 7pm. Spain’s Didac was nominated for “Best Goalkeepers in the World” and Esteban Cerrudo Guerrero was nominated for “Best Men’s Player in the World”.

Carlos Ortiz, Sergio Lozano, Catela and Chino are all extremely talented players but the one that could single-handedly cause a riot and pick defences apart is Adolfo Fernandez.

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The FC Barcelona player scored six goals in Lithuania and is ready to shine in the European stage once again.

Leandro Afonso is a Brazilian coach who has most recently been coaching his Futsal in England for London Escolla. In 2020, he was invited to be within the coaching staff of the Brazil team while they played a series of friendlies in Europe.

Brazil played a couple of games against Portugal and Spain. When speaking to him he was able to draw on the ability and quality of the players on display.

“I was able to closely observe some of the best players and coaches in the world. Brazil, Portugal, Spain have all had their success in the global Futsal stage.”

“I remember the friendlies between Brazil and Spain, it was unforgettable. Some of these players play for the same team at club level, but when it came to representing their country, the intensity was incredible.”

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Seth Burkett is the author of The Boy in Brazil, which was shortlisted for Football Book of the Year at the 2016 Sport Book Awards. He has now written 11 books, including collaborations with footballers and world famous Youtubers.

He is also an advocate for Futsal and has been involved in the game for a long time. When speaking with him he shared his thoughts on the upcoming tournament.

“I am looking forward to what should be a great tournament. It really feels like we are being treated given how recently the World Cup was. It’s hard to see past Spain, especially given their recent result against Portugal. They will be looking to avenge that quarter final exit in style.”

https://twitter.com/SeFutbol/status/1483063836089503748

Form:

L: 4-2 Portugal (27/09/2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup)

W: 5-2 Czech Republic (24/09/2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup)

W: 4-1 Angola (20/09/2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup)

W: 4-2 Japan (17/09/2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup)

W: 4-0 Paraguay (14/09/2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup)

Squad List:

Coach

Federico Vidal

Goalkeepers

Jesús Herrero (Movistar Inter, Spain) and Didac Plana (FC Barcelona, Spain)

Defenders

Boyis (Movistar Inter, Spain), Sergio Lozano (FC Barcelona, Spain), Mellado (Jimbee Cartagena, Spain) and Carlos Ortiz (FC Barcelona, Spain)

Forwards

Adolfo Fernández (FC Barcelona, Spain), Raúl Campos (Palma Futsal, Spain), Catela (Viña Albali Valdepeñas, Spain), Cecilio Morales (Movistar Inter, Spain), Chino (Viña Albali Valdepeñas, Spain), Borja Díaz (Movistar Inter, Spain), Esteban (MFK KPRF, Russia) and Raúl Gomez (Movistar Inter, Spain)

AZERBAIJAN

Photo Credit – UEFA Official Programme

Azerbaijan’s introduction to the European stage came thick and fast. In 2010, they shocked the Futsal world and reached the semi-finals on their first participation at this level.

This defeat came on penalties to Portugal followed by a third-place play-off loss to Czech Republic. But since then, they have never failed to qualify.

In 2018, they fell at the quarter-finals stage losing out to Portugal once again. This time they were served a heavy 8-1 defeat.

Their matches are filled with excitement with goals typically flying in at both ends of the court. In the qualifying group stage, they topped group three ahead of Greece, Moldova and Slovakia.

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Coach Alesio began his coaching career in Russia. He will used all of his experience to try and take his team one step further than 2010. He also coaches Araz Naxçivan where the core of his squad comes from.

Azerbaijan currently sits in 14th in the Futsal World rankings and they will be desperate to climb up the ranks.

Bolinha plays his Futsal at ACCS of Paris, where the likes of Ricardinho and Ortiz have been at recently. Bolinha scored a hattrick against France and a few of his team mates in the 2018 Slovenia.

Vince Van de Vreken is the owner of one of the biggest Futsal media brands called 7Futsal. It’s main platform channels boats over 750 thousand followers on Instagram and 1.9 million followers on Tik Tok.

When speaking with Vince about the 2022 UEFA Futsal Euros, he explained:

“My favourites are Portugal, Spain, Russia and Kazakhstan but I have Azerbaijan as my dark horse. Azerbaijan have Vassoura, the best player in the world of Fut7. I am a big fan of his style of play.”

Form:

W: 4-0 Greece (14/04/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

D: 1-1 Slovakia (08/04/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 5-3 Moldova (09/03/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 5-1 Moldova (09/03/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 3-0 Greece (02/02/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

Squad List:

Coach

Alesio

Goalkeepers:

Rovshan Huseynli (Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan) and Emin Kurdov (Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan)

Defenders

Hadi Ahmadi (Baiterek Uralsk, Kazakhstan), Eduardo (FP Halle Gooik, Belgium), Rizvan Farzaliyev (Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan), Gallo (Levante UD, Spain), Amir Shojaei (Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan) and Vassoura (Sporting Paris, France)

Forwards

Isa Atayev (Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan), Khatai Baguirov (Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan), Bolinha (ACCS Villeneuve, France), Ramiz Chovdarov (Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan), Fineo (Sporting Paris, France) and Rafaewl Vilela (Palma Futsal, Spain)

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA (debutants)

Photo Credit – UEFA Official Programme

Arguably, Bosnia and Herzegovina have been the surprise qualifiers for this tournament. In a tough qualifying group with Serbia, Romania and North Macedonia they were the first in the group to book their tickets to the finals with two groups game to spare.

This came after a dominating performance in the qualifying round stage where they dispatched with Cyprus, Switzerland and Gibraltar.

Bosnia and Herzegovina are entering this level of competition for first time alongside Slovakia, Finland and Georgia.

Coach Evo Krezo combines his time coaching his local team Seljak and the international squad.

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His players are mostly part-time but do not let that fool you, the time that they have together they manage to organise themselves fantastically well.

Currently in the 28th spot in the Futsal World rankings they will be needing Krezo to lead from the front.

In the Futsal Planet awards, Krezo was nominated for “Best Men’s National Team Coach in the World”, a well-deserved recognition.

Team mates Josip Sesar and Srdjan Ivankovic will aim to bring their experience from playing in the German side Stuttgarter. Youthful Blago Gašpar and Almedin Bundevica will be hoping to make their mark.

FC Mostar SG players Stannislav Galić, Marijo Aladžić, Bilal Jelić, Nermin Kahvedžić and Anel Radmilović will need to bring their team chemistry in order for Bosnia and Herzegovina to succeed.

https://twitter.com/NFSBiH/status/1480603477285953539

Form:

L: 3-1 Serbia (14/04/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 3-2 North Macedonia (08/04/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 5-0 Romania (10/03/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 3-2 Romania (04/03/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

W: 4-2 Serbia (03/02/2021 UEFA Futsal Euros)

Squad List:

Coach

Ivo Krezo

Goalkeepers

Stanislav Galić (Mostar SG, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Darko Milanović (Salines, Slovakia)

Outfielders

Marijo Aladžić (Mostar SG, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Davor Arnautović (Salines, Slovakia) and Kristijan Pantić (Brotnjo, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Forwards

Josip Sesar (Stuttgarter, Germany), Srđan Ivanković (Stuttgarter, Germany), Bilal Jelić (Mostar SG, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Nermin Kahvedžić (Mostar SG, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Anel Radmilović (Mostar SG, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Josip Bošković (Vrgorac, Croatia), Sabahudin Petak (Sloga. Bsonia and Herzegovina), Blago Gašpar (Novo Vrijeme, Croatia) and Almedin Bundavica (Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Head-to-heads

Photo Credit – UEFA Official Website

Georgia vs Azerbaijan

Georgia will play Azerbaijan in group D opener. It will be Georgia’s debut at this level while it is Azerbaijan’s sixth straight appearance.

Total encounters

Georgia wins 0 (4 goals)

Azerbaijan wins 2 (11 goals)

Draws 0

Spain vs Bosnia and Herzegovina

Spain play Bosnia and Herzegovina in group D when Spain starts their campaign aiming at acquiring their eight title.

No previous encounters

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina face Georgia in group D in a match where both team will be making their debut in this level.

No previous encounters

Spain vs Azerbaijan

Spain play Azerbaijan in group D. Spain beat Azerbaijan in 2016 and 2018 groups.

Total encounters

Spain wins 2 (9 goals)

Azerbaijan 0 (3 goals)

Draws 0

Georgia vs Spain

Georgia face Spain in last group D game. Spain beat Georgia 3-2 in World Cup qualifier in 2019 with a late winner by Marc Tolra.

Total encounters

Georgia wins 0 (3 goals)

Spain wins 1 (14 goals)

Draws 0

Azerbaijan vs Bosnia and Herzegovina

Azerbaijan play Bosnia and Herzegovina in Group D. Azerbaijan won 2014 and 2018 qualifying meetings.

Total encounters

Azerbaijan wins 2 (8 goals)

Bosnia and Herzegovina wins 0 (6 goals)

Draws 0

Editor’s Verdict

The stage is set and the canvas is blank. The best European talent are in the Netherlands and the show is about to begin.

It’s been a pleasure looking into these nations and analysing their history, their stats and their chances in becoming the next champions.

You can expect these dancing artists to paint wonderful images which will be long remembered within the Futsal folklore.

The no spectator void will be filled with smiling athletes showcasing years of work. Don’t you dare blink, you just might miss it.

In this month you can expect, flair, excitement, rhythm, combinations, detail, tactician mastery, opportunism, skills, goals and more goals.

2022 is for Futsal.