Russia 1-2 Italy: Third Place Consolation Prize for the Azzurri (FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008)

After their disappointing and controversial loss in the semi-finals, Italy grabbed the bronze medal in the FIFA Futsal World Cup Third Place final against Russia Saturday. It was hard-fought match full of spectacular plays, in which the Azzurri obtained their 2-1 win thanks to a last-minute goal by Saad Assis.

Nevertheless, one can’t help but think that under different circumstances, this team could have made a serious contention for the title tomorrow. In the end, Italy will not be remembered for their good third place ranking, but rather for being denied a chance to play for the gold.

Futsal Rules in a nutshell

• Games are played on a rectangular pitch approximately 40 x 20 m in size. Playing surface is usually made of wood or artificial material (flat, smooth, non-abrasive).
• Duration of the match is two periods of 20 minutes, with a 10-15 min. half-time interval. Clock is considered “out of play” (that is, time is stopped every time the ball is out of play for a kick-in, free-kick, corner-kick etc.). Teams are entitled to a one-minute time-out in each half.
• Matches are played 5 vs. 5 (including the goalkeeper). Team roster includes 14 players, with unlimited substitutions allowed.
• Games are played with a Size 4 official Futsal soccer ball, which has a very low bounce designed essentially to facilitate ball control.
Kick-ins are taken instead of throw-ins, and must be taken within 4 seconds of the player taking possession of the ball.
Fouls & free-kicks: for the first 5 accumulated fouls recorded against either team in each half, the players of the opposing team may form a wall to defend a free-kick. Beginning with the 6th accumulated foul recorded against either team in each half, the defending team’s players may not form a wall to defend a free kick, and all the other players (except the kicker) must remain BEHIND the ball (i.e. behind an imaginary line that is level with the ball and parallel to the goal line). No player may cross this imaginary line until the ball has been struck and starts to move.

(From Gazzetta): “If things had taken place differently Thursday, we would have been World Champions tomorrow“. In the mind of Alessandro Nuccorini, there’s little doubt on that subject. At the end of the third place final, which gave Italy a more-than-deserved bronze medal, the Italian manager just can’t get over his team’s semi-final elimination. And winning third place can’t do much to remove that sour taste in everyone’s mouth. “It’s a question of gut feeling. We had prepared this World Cup in order to arrive to the semi-final stage in top condition, and Thursday proved us right: our form was on the rise, Spain and Brazil on a downward slope“.

The boys were really motivated, a lot more than I was” continues Nuccorini. “I think they deserved more respect than they got. They wanted to make FIFA feel ashamed for what happened against Spain“.

And so Italy played with rage and pride in their hearts, a just reaction after Thursday’s big disappointment. With the entire Maracanazinho crowd cheering for them (kinda like saying ‘we get it, it should have been you in the final’), the Azzurri started dominating the proceedings against Russia, eventually grabbing the lead through Adriano Foglia (today’s man-of-the-match, after the unlucky own-goal incident Thursday): a slamming top-corner left-footed blast, a thundering discharge of rage for all that happened in the last 48 hours. 1-0 Italy.

One goal was not enough for the Azzurri though, who continued to take shots on target through Foglia, Grana, Bertoni, Jubanski and Baptistella. Till minute 18’43” when Russia finally got some danger going of their own, with Shayakhmetov hitting Feller’s post.

The second period saw Russia come back with guns blazing, and eventually grabbing the equalizer thanks to a lovely Konstantin Dushkevic back-heel, after a fast counter. 1-1. The match continued to shift from one end to the other, alternating chances for either team (in particular a Khamadiev lob hitting the crossbar).

Till minute 38’30′‘, when the nth foul on Foglia cost Shayakhmetov his second yellow of the game and his marching orders toward the changing room. The Azzurri immediately exploited the one-man advantage, and grabbed the winning goal thanks to a lovely Saad Assis lob 13 seconds from the end. 2-1 Italy.

We demonstrated once again we’re a great national team” said Foglia after the match. “It the matches that count, we’re always present. We played a great match against Spain as well, but they took the final away from us. I didn’t sleep that night, I must have re-watched the match at least 6 times“.


 Russian Football Union (Russian: Российский Футбольный Союз)
FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008
[Match Highlights]
 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 6’21’’ Foglia (I), 25’53’’ Dushkevich (R), 39’47’’ Assis (I).
RUSSIA: Zuev, Kobzar, Maevskiy, Pula, Azizov (bench: Shayakhmetov, Pereverzev, Prudnikov, Dushkevich, Agapov, Khamadiev, Stepanov). Coach: Ivanov.
ITALY: Feller, Nora, Jubanski, Bertoni, Baptistella (bench: Grana, Forte, Assis, Fabiano, Foglia, Morgado, Farina). Coach: Nuccorini.


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Posted in Azzurri, Futsal, International Competitions |

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