Not much more than 12 months ago, Spain were licking their wounds after the end of their nine-year reign as European futsal champions.
It was Russia who beat Spain in the UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 semi-finals in Antwerp. Spain had last failed to win the trophy in 2003, having been successful four times from 2005 to 2012. Since then there has been one thing on their minds: recovering their crown.
That task starts on Wednesday in Skopje against a Switzerland side competing at this level for the first time, with experienced Hungary and hosts FYR Macedonia to come in main round Group 2 of qualifying. Coach José Venancio López knows that if Spain play well, they have little to fear about making it to the finals in Serbia next year.
"We have to do our job properly, if we do that then we don't need to worry about our opponents," he said. "We have a lot of quality, but in the elite competition you have to do other things, but above all we need to run and defend. If we do that and we demonstrate our quality, then we won't have any problems. That's the way to go."
Since that painful defeat by Russia, his team have played nine matches and won eight of them. But Venancio López wishes he had more time to prepare: "We have few training sessions and we can't focus on all aspects of our play.
"We are going to the qualifying tournament with just one training session. We meet up on Monday to travel to Macedonia, we train on Tuesday and then play on Wednesday. It's not easy."
Still, Adri of Murcia FS, one of the new faces in a squad now without the likes of retired Torras, feels Spain should not encounter too many problems in Skopje. "I think the team are in good shape, we have to take advantage of these get-togethers as much as possible because we don't have many," he said.
"Our aim is to conquer Europe, but we're going to take it step by step. The most important thing for now is the qualifying round – we have to give a good account of ourselves and qualify without any problems. Then we will think about the European Championship in Serbia in 2016."
If there is a barrier to automatic qualification as group winners, Venancio López believes it is Hungary, who themselves have a Spanish coach. "Hungary have changed a lot. Not only are they a brave team, but they also play a more modern brand of futsal.
"Sito Rivera is in charge and they are dangerous opponents because they are using the five on four [with the flying goalkeeper] and in any moment in the game, they can change the pace of the game and we are not accustomed to those types of situations. And Macedonia will put pressure on us as hosts. They are a very physical side, and with their fans behind them, they will be very keen to qualify."
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