UEFA Futsal Champions League debutants Mallorca Palma Futsal and 2010 winners Benfica booked their place in the finals with one game to spare in the elite round with the other two groups to be decided on Saturday.
The four group winners will advance to the final on May 4/5 and 6/7, with hosts to be confirmed.
Competitors: Sporting CP (POR), Uragan Ivano-Frankivsk (UKR), Città di Eboli (ITA, hosts), Loznica-Grad 2018 (SRB)
- Sporting beat Loznica-Grad and Uragan 4-2 to lead the group with one game to play. But they are yet to finish as their Saturday opponents Città di Eboli beat the Serbian champions 2-0 to bounce back from their loss to Uragan and give themselves a chance to beat Sporting when they face off on Saturday. .
All the way to the final: Mallorca Palma Futsal (ESP, hosts)
Also in the squad: Piast Gliwice (POL), Novo Vrijeme Makarska (CRO), Dobovec (SVN)
- Palma beat Dobovec 8-2 and fellow debutants Piast 5-0 to clinch top spot with one game to spare. Piast had won their opener against Novo Vrijeme, who drew with Dobovec early Thursday. Chrudim drew 2-2 with Luxol, meaning Benfica’s 2-1 loss to Kairat sealed the group.
Advance to finals: Benfica (POR)
Also in the group: Chrudim (CZE), Kairat Almaty (KAZ, hosts), Luxol St. Andrews (MLT)
- The opening two games were drawn as Benfica finished 3-3 against Chrudim and Luxol-Kairat were scoreless. Benfica beat Luxol 6-0 and Chrudim edged Kairat 2-1 on Thursday (having lost the previous five elite round encounters with the two-time champions), leaving all four teams in mathematical contention.
Competitors: Barça (ESP, starters), Sporting Anderlecht Futsal (BEL), Futsal Pula (CRO, hosts), United Galati (ROU)
- Barca and Anderlecht won their opening games and then played out a thrilling 5-5 draw on Thursday. Anderlecht trailed 5-2 but a last-minute equalizer from the former Benfica Fits man ended the holders’ 12-game European winning streak. Pula beat United Galati 5-2 but home hopes ended when Anderlecht beat the Romanian champions. That leaves Barca needing to beat Pula by six goals to beat Anderlecht.
Meet the teams
- Barca won their fourth title last season and will be hoping to equal Inter FS’ record of five.
- Sporting CP lost the 2022 final but won in 2019 and 2021; they and Barca have shared all four titles since the renaming of the 2018/19 UEFA Futsal Cup.
- Kairat (2013 and 2015) and Benfica (2010) are also former champions.
- Both Barca and Kairat are hoping to qualify for a record tenth time.
- Sporting’s João Matos is the competition’s new record holder for player appearances, having surpassed the old mark of 69 held by Rizvan Farzaliyev and Lúcio in the main round.
- Kairat is playing his record 19th season in Europe and has appeared in the elite round in all 16 editions he has been in the competition (since 2006/07, other than 2020/21 when there was a knockout format throughout) .
- Kairat and Chrudim had previously been in the same Elite round group five times: Kairat had won all five matches and topped the group four times, including a dramatic comeback at Chrudim to win 5-4 in the 2007/08 mini-tournament . decider and 6-5 in Serbia in 2012/13 en route to their second title.
- Kairat and Benfica have met four times before. Kairat won their 2020/21 quarter-final 6-2 in Croatia; Benfica won 5-3 in the 2019/20 Elite round, although both teams were already eliminated; Kairat won 5-3 on penalties to claim bronze in 2010/11; and in the 2005/06 second qualifying round in Lisbon they drew 3-3, a result that helped Kairat beat Benfica in the semi-finals.
- Anderlecht had previously entered as Halle-Gooik; they lost to Barca in last season’s elite round and 2018/19 main round.
- Croatia have two first-time entrants (Novo Vrijeme Makarska and Pula), and both are from the same main round group.
- Città di Eboli, Loznica-Grad 2018, Mallorca Palma, Piast Gliwice and Pula are playing their first European seasons.
- Luxol are the first team from Malta to reach the Elite round.
- United Galati are also taking part in the Elite round for the first time, despite having made the single round of 16 in 2020/21.
- No club from Czechia, Malta, Romania, Serbia or Ukraine has reached the finals in any format.
- Croatia’s only previous runners-up are MNK Split, who took part in the eight-team inaugural 2001/02 event and reached the semi-finals.
- No team from Slovenia have reached the semi-finals, with Dobovec having played in the eight-team knockout final of 2020/21, losing in the quarter-finals.
- Similarly, the only Polish finalist was Clearex Chorzów, released in the group stage in 2001/02.
- Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine reached the semi-finals in 2005/06, in just one out of two games.
Path A group winners: Mallorca Palma Futsal (ESP, Group 1), Sporting CP (POR, 2), Barça (ESP, 3, starter), Benfica (POR, 4)
Second in Path A group: Sporting Anderlecht Futsal (BEL, 1), Novo Vrijeme Makarska (CRO, 2), Luxol St. Andrews (MLT, 3), Uragan Ivano-Frankivsk (UKR, 4)
Path A group third place: Kairat Almaty (KAZ, 1), Futsal Pula (CRO, 2), Dobovec (SVN, 3), United Galati (ROU, 4)
Path B group winners: Loznica-Grad 2018 (SRB, 5), Piast Gliwice (POL, 6), Città di Eboli (ITA, 7), Chrudim (CZE, 8)