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UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 Group B preview
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 02:14
futsalwireThe last two UEFA Futsal EURO runners-up Portugal and Russia are head to head in Group B along with the Netherlands, in the finals for the first time since 2005.

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The last two UEFA Futsal EURO runners-up Portugal and Russia are head to head in Group B along with the Netherlands, in the finals for the first time since 2005.

RussiaWinners of the first fully fledged UEFA European Futsal Championship in 1999, Russia have failed only once to make it past the group stage and seldom miss the last four.

In 2012 in Croatia they reached their first final in seven years and were less than a minute away from beating Spain before a dramatic equaliser and extra-time defeat.Best performance: winners 1999Qualifying: Kazakhstan 5-1, Romania 2-1, Latvia 6-0 (Group 3 winners)Key players: Gustavo (goalkeeper), Aleksandr Fukin, Cirilo, PulaSergei Skorovich, coach: "Every team in the world wants to win.

We definitely want to play in the final.

Last time we were close to winning, but lost to Spain in extra time.

We will try all we can to take one more step."PortugalProbably the strongest European futsal nation not to have won this trophy, Portugal have stepped up a gear in recent years since advancing to the 2007 semis in Porto, aided by the stellar quality of Ricardinho.

They also got to the 2010 final without him due to injury.Best performance: runners-up 2010Qualifying: Greece 6-1, Poland 5-2, Serbia 2-1 (Group 5 winners)Key players: Cardinal, Joel Queirs, RicardinhoJorge Braz, coach: "The Netherlands are re-emerging in European futsal, with that creativity, that abundance of individual quality.

Russia at the moment are an international power, with a lot of quality and a very strong domestic league."NetherlandsThe Netherlands were runners-up at the inaugural 1989 FIFA Futsal World Cup, with current coach Marcel Loosveld among the team, and an early force in European competition.

However, this is their first major tournament since 2005, and they only just pipped Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-offs.

Still, they had been the ones to narrowly miss out in recent years with a strong generation that is now coming to maturity.Best performance: fourth place 1999QualifyingMain round: Belarus 2-1, Georgia 7-3, Czech Republic 1-5 (Group 6 runners-up)Play-offs: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-3 (a), 2-1 (h), agg: 4-4 (Netherlands win on away goals)Key players: Mohamed Attaibi, Najib El Allouchi, Samir MakhoukhiMarcel Loosveld, coach: "It is not the easiest group, that may be clear, but let me say we are very happy to be back on this stage again, and of course we will do our utmost to get any result out of it."