The final of the second UEFA Women’s Futsal EURO kicks off on Friday at Porto’s Pavilhão Multiusos de Gondomar, which also hosted the inaugural edition three years ago.
We get a glimpse of the action as holders Spain take on Ukraine before hosts Portugal, runners-up in 2019, meet final debutants Hungary. The match for third place and the final will take place on Sunday.
Spain clinched the first title here three years ago and return with high confidence, having won 7-0 and 3-1 in January friendlies against Ukraine, as well as 3-2 against Brazil in March. The squad only fully came together at the start of the week after the league play-off final, which involved much of the squad, but looks formidable. Unfortunately, 2019 player of the tournament Vanessa Sotelo hasn’t recovered from a serious knee injury in time to make the squad, but regular keeper Silvia Agute is fit after a recent absence. She is one of nine on the winning team from three years ago again for more.
Ukraine, who finished fourth in 2019, were able to meet again in early June in San Marino and have since held a series of training camps in Italy, France and here in Portugal, where they lost 6-0 to the hosts in a friendly last Friday. Still, they can call on goalkeepers Viktoriia Sahaidachna, Kseniia Hrytsenko and Yuliya Tytova, who all made the 2019 squad of the tournament, when they ran close to Portugal in the semi-finals before losing 5- 1 after late goals.
key fact: Spain have won all eight games they have played in this competition, the shortest of their 2-0 loss to Italy in the main round of this edition.
Oleg Shaytanov, Ukraine coach: “It was really difficult for us to try to organize this month of preparations, it had a huge meaning for us. We were still trying to create a team. The players had gone to different countries, different clubs. It was really difficult for us but anyway we were able to organize everything and spend a month preparing in different countries, and we hope we will do well because it would have been very difficult without what we have done this month better! “
Iuliia Forsiuk, Ukrainian captain: “There is no need for words to say how motivated and happy we are to be here. Thank you to everyone who has helped us over the last month by giving us the chance to prepare. We know good Spain. We don’t need any motivation: we’re happy to play them in the semi-finals. Of course, you only play to win, and we’ll do our best to win. We just want to enjoy [the game]. It’s like a party. We are happy to be here regardless of the outcome.”
Claudia Pons, Spain coach: “The players are very motivated. Things are going well, we have worked hard and we are expecting a very good semi-final. Of course, we are expecting a difficult match but we hope that it will go well and that We will reach the final. We know they will be tough opponents: both teams will have their chances. We miss Vane [Sotelo] but we still have 14 very good players. We have what it takes to win. We hope we don’t miss Vane too much.”
Silvia Aguete, Spain goalkeeper“Emotions are running high because we won here in 2019. Of course we want to do the same this time. We’re happy to be here again and we’ve worked hard for it.”
Portugal fell 4-0 to Spain in the 2019 final but their form since then will give them confidence they can do better this time around in Gondomar, with a crowd already sold out. Not only have they won five of their 11 meetings for Spain since, losing just three, they were also top scorers with 29 goals in qualifying, eight different players on target. In the 6-0 friendly loss to Ukraine last Friday, Carolina Pedreira scored twice on her debut while Ana Azevedo became the first Portuguese player to reach 100 caps. She is one of eight members of the 2019 squad to return to the final, including 18-year-old star Fifó.
Hungary, called up in May to replace Russia, are the only one of the four teams present not to have taken part in the 2019 final tournament. With an experienced squad including several players with international football experience at senior or junior level, Hungary warmed up with four games last week in Croatia Futsal Week, winning one, drawing two and losing to tournament winners Poland.
key fact: Portugal have won the last three meetings with Hungary, including two Gondomar friendlies just before the 2019 final.
Luís Conceição, Portugal coach: “We watched Hungary many times and did our job of scouting. We played them twice three years ago and the team is more or less the same. They will want to take advantage of this moment; it is difficult to to the EURO and now “They have this opportunity and want to do their best. Hungary will defend deep, we will have more possession and maybe create more chances. We are prepared for this and we will be ready to be patient.”
Ana Azevedo, Portugal captain“Obviously Portugal were finalists last time but we have to prove that status on the pitch. Hungary are super motivated to do well and reach the final, and Portugal will face a good team.”
Tamás Frank, Hungary coach: “We are a small team on the European futsal map. Our players are amateurs, they play futsal alongside their daily work. So it was very difficult to prepare because the players had to take annual leave to be here and training camp was difficult but we will try to make Portugal sweat!”
Csilla Krascsenics, Hungarian striker“None of our team has played in front of 3,000 people before. So maybe it will be a bit of a disadvantage, but it will also be very motivating because we really want to show what we can do. If we succeed, everything the world will be able to see how much work we have put in.”