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Serbia vs Finland: The road to European play-off for the World Cup

Only three days are left before the start of the European playoffs for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021. Lithuania (hosts), Spain, Portugal, Russia and Kazakhstan have already qualified for the Futsal Mundial and in a week from now, we will know the last two participants from Europe.

In today's text we will analyze the qualifying road of the first playoff pair: Serbia and Finland (6th and 10th November). In tomorrow's text read about „Mid-Europe's derby“ between Croatia and Czech Republic (7th and 10th November).

>> Czechia, Croatia, Serbia, Finland: Past achievements on Futsal World Cup

Besides, we will have an expert's preview that we will publish on Thursday, the day before playoffs begin.

FINLAND - the biggest underdog wants to make history (again)

We are starting this preview of the European play-offs with the everyone's underdog.

The national futsal team of Finland. Led by the well-known Balkan duo Mićo Martić (Croatia) and Dušan Matić (Serbia), Finland is the only national team in the playoffs that started their road to Lithuania in the Preliminary round.

On the tournament played in Moldova, Finland finished – second. After heavily defeating Northern Ireland (9:1) and Wales (7:0) with an overall goal-difference 16:1, they lost against the host (1:2) in the last match, which was played for the prestige since both teams secured next round after first two matches.

In the main round, Finland drew their „old acquaintances“ - Spain. Less than seven months before the tournament in Poland, Finland shocked the futsal world by defeating Spain in the friendly match in Finland (1:0).

In the opening match of the Main group between those two countries, Autio scored at the beginning of the match for Finland's lead. However, European vice-champions didn't allow a new surprise. Until the half time, Spain had a 3:1 lead and eventually won 4:1.

In the second round, both Spain and Finland struggled. Spain defeated Georgia 3:2 (who defeated Poland in the first round with 3:2), scoring the winner in 37th minute. As for our protagonists, Poland scored the opener in 28', but Hosio (31') and Kytölä (34') brought the turnaround to the Finns and their first win in the tournament.

The last match directly decided the second qualifier to the Elite round. Finland team has confirmed the quality and defeated strong Georgian team with 5:2. However, we have to note that the result was 2:2 until the 36th minute. Finland scored three goals in the last part of the match!

In the Elite round, Finland has achieved its greatest success in history (for now). In the group played in Portugal they drew with strong Italian squad (2:2), and two days later with the same score against European champion Portugal. Not only that, but Finland had a 2:0 advantage until the 39th minute of the match. However, Bruno Coelho and Cardinal scored for Portugal in the last two minutes of the match and brought Portugal a draw.

For the placement in the current playoffs, Finland needed to defeat Belarus' strong team. Even though Belarus opened the scoring, Finland reversed the result by the half time and eventually won 4:2. Portugal won the group with a victory over Italy.

Finland in the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup Qualifiers:

Games: 9
Won: 5
Draw: 2
Lost: 2
Goals scored: 33
Goals conceded: 16
Best scorers: Jyrkiäinen, Hosio (5), Junno (4), Autio (3)
Number of players scored: 12
Biggest win: 9-1 (Northern Irland)
Biggest defeat: 1-4 (Spain)

SERBIA - one of the best European teams looking for their second participation at the World Cup

The national futsal team of Serbia is one of the strongest European futsal nations. Even though they qualified for the World Cup only once (2012), they played quarterfinals in four out of last five European championships reaching the fourth place on a home Euro in 2016. Therefore, Serbia is considered a favorite in this duel.

Led by head coach Goran Ivančić, Serbia won the Main round with maximum points. In the first round, they defeated Switzerland with 7:0 and struggled against Belgium (2:1). Rakić scored a winning goal minute and seven seconds before the end.

In the last round, hosts France and Serbia played the beauty of the tournament (both teams secured the Elite round before that match). Serbia got an early lead with Lazarević's and Rakić's goals. In the 23rd minute, Tomić scored for Serbia's 3:0 lead. However, in the next minute and 45 seconds, the spectators could saw three goals. Two for France and one for Serbia. At the end of the 24th minute, the result was 4:2 for guests.

France continued with a good game, and Ramirez scored twice in 35th to equalize. Nevertheless, Momčilović brought victory to Serbia (and the first place) with a goal eight seconds before the end!

The same opponents found themselves in the Elite round, as well as strong teams of Spain and Ukraine. The difference was in the hosting city of the tournament. The venue moved from France to Serbia (Niš).

In an opening match, hosts played great and defeated Ukraine with 5:2. The victory was never in question. In the second leg, defeated France again (4:2). Even though guests lead twice, Serbia scored three goals in the last 12 minutes and secured at least playoffs for the World Cup.

The last match was a duel for direct advancement to the World Cup. However, Spain was too strong. They didn't give Serbia any chance. By the 7th minute, European vice-champions had 2:0 lead. In the 27th Pršić scored from a penalty and give Serbia a hope, but Spain scored three goals in the last seven minutes and secured a convincing victory.

Serbia in the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup Qualifiers:

Games: 6
Won: 5
Draw: 0
Lost: 1
Goals scored: 24
Goals conceded: 14
Best scorers: Rakić (5), Pršić (4), Tomić(3)
Number of players scored: 11
Biggest win: 7:0 (Switzerland)
Biggest defeat: 1:5 (Spain)

Who is your favorite in Serbia vs Finland clash? Please give us your opinion in the comments section.

In tomorrow's text check the preview of the second playoff duel between Croatia and the Czech Republic.