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UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 Group D preview
Thursday, 23 January 2014 02:59
futsalwireSpain are aiming for a fifth straight UEFA Futsal EURO triumph but 2010 bronze-medallists the Czech Republic and 2012 semi-finalists Croatia challenge them in Group D.

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Spain are aiming for a fifth straight UEFA Futsal EURO triumph but 2010 bronze-medallists the Czech Republic and 2012 semi-finalists Croatia challenge them in Group D.

Spain (holders)Spain have won six of UEFA's eight European futsal competitions and are targeting a fifth success in a row.

They have also reached the last five FIFA Futsal World Cup finals, winning in 2000 and 2004 but being pipped by Brazil in 2008 and 2012.

Even with the likes of Luis Amado and Kike having bowed out since last time, they remain the team to beat as shown by their qualification performances.Best performance: winners 1996, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012Qualifying: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 5-1, Sweden 13-0, Croatia 10-0 (Group 4 winners)Key players: Torras, Sergio Lozano, FernandoFederico Vidal Montaldo, assistant coach: "We are in a constant renewal process.

Great players always leave the team, as happened now, but new players come in who we have full confidence in.

We know we have a great team which is a good mix of experienced players and young lads.

We know we will do well."Czech RepublicQualifying for their seventh consecutive Futsal EURO, the Czech Republic also regularly make the World Cup stage but have tended not to have long runs in any finals, their 2010 European bronze notwithstanding.

However, with experienced talent like the Mare brothers and young players coming through as well, they are never easy opponents.Best performance: third place 2010, semi-finals 2003Qualifying: Georgia 4-1, Belarus 4-3, Netherlands 5-1 (Group 6 winners)Key players: Luk Reetr, Roman Mare, Michal Mare, David Fri Tom Neumann, coach: "Our group is very, very hard.

In the last EURO we had Spain, and Spain became champions.

As for Croatia, they were fourth in that EURO.

But for us it's a success to play in this championship."CroatiaAwarded the opportunity to end an 11-year finals absence as hosts in 2012, Croatia attracted fervent competition-record crowds in Split and Zagreb as they stormed into the semis.

Now, despite a heavy qualifying loss to Spain, the Croatian side are back in the finals and eager to prove they can do it away from home too.Best performance: fourth place 2012QualifyingMain round: Sweden 7-0, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 3-2, Spain 0-10 (Group 4 runners-up)Play-offs: Slovakia 3-1(a), 4-0(h) agg 7-1Key players: Ivo Juki (goalkeeper), Dario Marinovi, Tihomir NovakMato Stankovi, coach: "We must be realistic we know what we are capable of and we know where we belong, and that's not in the semi-finals.

Spain are a team from another world for most other countries.

They are better than most other sides by four to seven goals and if they have a good day it will be ten."