First four of six European World Cup places up for grabs

Ricardinho of Portugal celebrates

  • UEFA elite round to be played between 29 January and 5 February
  • The four group winners will qualify for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020™
  • The four runners-up teams will go into the play-offs for the remaining two UEFA berths

With Europe set to host the FIFA Futsal World Cup™ for the first time since Spain 1996, the continent’s heavyweights will battle it out for the first batch of much-coveted tickets to the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020™ over eight days.

The 16 teams that qualified for the UEFA elite round have been drawn into four groups. The winners of each group will qualify directly for Lithuania 2020, while the four runners-up will face each other in a play-off round from 9-12 April to determine Europe’s two remaining World Cup representatives.

The groups

Group A
(30 January – 2 February):
Portugal (hosts), Italy, Belarus, Finland
Hosts and reigning European champions Portugal, led by superstar Ricardinho, go into Group A as favourites. Finland and Belarus navigated the preliminary round to make it to the elite round, giving them a huge chance to finish their fairytale of reaching the World Cup with a happy ending. However, 2004 World Cup finalists Italy will undoubtedly have something to say about that.

Group B
(1 – 4 February):
Spain, Serbia (hosts), Ukraine, France
In Group B, Spain are striving to reach their ninth World Cup. Anything other than direct qualification would come as a surprise for the 2000 and 2004 world champions, who have competed at every Futsal World Cup so far – a record only Argentina and Brazil can match. It will be intriguing to see whether Serbia can make the most of their home advantage, while France are aiming to qualify for the World Cup for the first time.

Group C
(29 January – 1 February):
Russia, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Croatia (hosts)
With an exceptional team, 2016 World Cup finalists Russia head to Croatia as the runaway favourites in Group C. It remains to be seen whether Slovakia, who have never qualified for a major tournament, can hold their own against experienced World Cup sides Azerbaijan and Croatia.

Group D
(2 – 5 February):
Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Romania, Czech Republic (hosts)
In Group D, Kazakhstan and hosts Czech Republic – both World Cup veterans – face two teams for whom reaching Lithuania 2020 would mean breaking new ground. Do Slovenia and Romania have what it takes to spring a surprise?

What happens next?

Play-off round (9 & 12 April)

Runner-up of Group C – Runner-up of Group D
Runner-up of Group B – Runner-up Group A

The two play-off winners over two legs will progress to the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020™.

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