Spain must get past Slovakia if they are to attempt to reclaim the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand this autumn after the European play-off draw was made at the Sheraton Hotel in Zagreb.
Coming on the morning of the UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 final in the Croatian capital, the draw made by UEFA Executive Committee member and UEFA Futsal & Beach Soccer Committee chairman Borislav Mihaylov also matched Spain's opponents for the continental title, Russia, with Azerbaijan in what looks the hardest tie. Spain won the World Cup in 2000 and 2004 but lost the 2008 final to hosts Brazil on penalties.
The 2008 World Cup bronze-medallists, Italy, who were beaten by Spain in the 2004 global final just as in this year's EURO last four, have been paired with Norway, the sole preliminary round survivors on their competition debut. Of the other three nations to reach the last World Cup, Portugal play Belarus, the Czech Republic encounter Slovenia and Ukraine meet Romania. The other tie pits Serbia against Hungary.
In the two-legged ties on 25 to 28 March and 8 to 11 April, the seven teams who won their main round groups in December − Spain, Italy, Serbia, Portugal, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Russia − will be away first. The seven play-off victors, an increase of one from the previous European allocation, progress to the expanded 24-nation final tournament in Thailand from 1 to 18 November.
Play-off draw (first team home in opening leg)
Norway v Italy
Slovenia v Czech Republic
Azerbaijan v Russia
Slovakia v Spain
Hungary v Serbia
Belarus v Portugal
Romania v Ukraine