Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Futsal World Cup Final Brazil 3 - 2 Spain

Futsal World Cup
Futsal World Cup Final

Brazil 3 - 2 Spain 18 November 2012

Ref Hector Rojas (Peru)

Huamark Indoor Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand.

If Barack Obama had timed his visit to Thailand to coincide with this world cup final he must have been too busy to attend. Either that or he couldn't get a ticket. In any case the POTUS missed an interesting and exciting contest between the world's two top teams.

Early on in the game, Spain controlled possession somewhat easily and looked worthy of the title of number one team in the world. Yet it was Neto (Bra) who looked to be the most inventive player. Brazil came close to conceding a goal in these early stages, but Vinicius (Bra) blocked the ball on his own goal line. Vinicius is proving to be an important yet aggressive player as Aicardo's (Spa) very quick outside pullback turn leads to a foul by the Brazilian.

A vicious foul by Je (Bra) on Lozano (Spa) amazingly does not result in a card for the Brazilian as the Spaniard in tears of pain is helped from the court. A shot on the turn by Fernandao (Spa) at an acute angle is the first of many by him in a flurry of shots as Brazil's 1-3-1 formation is put to the test.

It's not surprising that it is Brazil who take the first time out with about 6:55 remaining in the first period. It seems to have paid dividends as Brazil come more into the game and Ari at last manages to get an off-target shot on Spain's goal.

Brazil are getting more possession now, and in an exciting moment Rafael shoots the ball from under teammate Je's foot. The ball is too high to worry Spain's keeper Juanjo however, which is just as well as he was moving the wrong way. With 1:26 left in the first half, it's Spain's turn to have their time out. This one also seems to work, as, on the resumption of play, Fernandao's flick is just wide of the Brazilian goal.

At the end of the first half it is 0 - 0, though Spain should easily be ahead given the number of shots they've had.

It's a bright start for the Brazilians in the second half as they look as though the half-time repose has rejuvenated them more than their Iberian opponents. But there is an extra element that has come into play in Brazils' favour, their "nuclear option": the introduction onto the court of Falcao, for years now the world's best player.

He shoots from distance, the ball whistling just wide of Juanjo's right post. Then, from a corner, Je, shedding his thug persona for a moment, hits the ball on the full, but the impressive Spaniard Kike blocks.

Je shoots again, Kike blocks again. Brazil look the better team now - and it's all down to the skill, vision and movement of one man: Falcao. It's his flick behind the standing leg that leads to a corner. The ball is played back up the line and Neto rockets the shot inside the far post. Brazil 1 - 0 Spain.

Vinicius reminds us that all that propaganda about the marvellous, skillful, Brazilians often ignores the violent and cheating side to their game; he dives for the second time in this match to get Kike booked. This is serious in futsal as the sixth booking and subsequent bookings mean a penalty against your team. 11:13 left in the game and Spain have had 27 shots.

More shenanigans from Brazil as Ari is booked for an off-the-ball incident. Brazil rightly pay for this - from the resulting free kick Miguelin's shot is blocked but Spain's number 4 Torras follows up and finishes near post.

Brazil 1 - 1 Spain.

Back come Brazil with Gabriel shooting across the face. From a corner the excellent Aicardo shoots and Brazil keeper Tiago attempts a kick save but it goes in. Brazil 1 - 2 Spain.

Falcao is back on court for Brazil .. and they need him as Spain press forward with Torras' half-volley on the turn saved, then Torras hits the bar after a free kick.

Falcao!! The ageing maestro receives the ball about 15 metres out and hammers into the top left-hand corner. Great goal: precision and power. Brazil 2 - 2 Spain.

A sweeping move, Ari to Je to Rafael whose shot is blocked. So it's 2 - 2 at full time, just as it was four years ago in Rio.

Extra time. This game has heated up, as have the players given the failure of the air-conditioning system in the stadium; pretty poor for a World Cup Final.

Brazil are favourites now that Spain have committed 5 card fouls, so one more and Brazil go to the penalty mark. A pullback L by Falcao brings a cheer from the crowd. Though Brazil are pressing high up the court, there is more cheating from the Latin Americans as Neto is "fouled" by Fernandao. Penalty. But the Spanish keeper Juanjo makes the save! Justice is done.

With just nineteen seconds remaining on the clock before the game goes to penalties, Neto, getting ball on the left touchline, lifts the ball over his defender, the ball landing on the line. He unleashes a tremendous shot that hits the inside of the far post and it's in. Brazil 3 - 2 Spain.

Sepp Blatter is almost beside himself with joy as he hands the trophy to the winners. There is the suspicion the 11-a-side game World Cup Finals Brazil in 2014 will follow a similar pattern to this tournament with FIFA engineering for Brazil a very easy group so that they have an easy route to the final.

So why did Spain lose, apart from their having to work harder than their opponents to get to the final? One reason lies in their shape; their 2 - 2 formation in the attacking phase meant the highest forward found it difficult to impossible to square the ball for shots.

Too many times, for example, Fernandao simply hit the ball on the half turn only to be blocked by a defender. In short, not enough combination play. And they don't have Falcao. Or Neto, who won the adidas Golden Ball with seven goals in the competition and two in the final.

Peter Rodd

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