Five to follow in Spanish #futsal in 19/20!

By Spanish futsal expert Rosa Barrancos

There is nothing quite like the start of the season, that fleeting chance we all have to dream of our team having a tilt for the title or challenging for an elusive piece of silverware. Spain’s Liga Nacional de Fútbol Sala (LNFS) is no different and, with the nerves and ring-rustiness of matchday one safely out of the way, this weekend will see futsal fans across the country roaring their teams onto ever more spectacular feats on the iconic blue courts.

After a very busy summer in the transfer market, the 16 teams currently battling it out for supremacy in Spain’s top division have had their chance to strengthen their squads for the 2019/20 campaign. There are players coming back to the peninsula after a spell away, others who have stayed in the LNFS yet signed on the dotted line for another club, while still more are preparing to defend the same colours yet with renewed vigour! Though it was hard to pick just five (!!) check out my top players to watch for this season:

1. Ferrão (FC Barcelona)

Brilliant Brazilian pivot Ferrão, who is starting his sixth season at Catalan giants FC Barcelona, is the complete package. A physical powerhouse, fiercely competitive and capable of regular moments of genius, the prolific Chapecó-born goalgetter has in recent seasons established himself among the very best players on the world futsal scene.     

Nicknamed “La Pantera” (The Panther), the 28-year-old thrives when the pressure is greatest, as demonstrated by his uncanny knack for scoring a game’s tide-turning opening goal – a knack he underlined within 52 seconds of Barça’s 19/20 season opener versus Jimbee Cartagena.

The LNFS’ MVP and leading goalscorer for the past three seasons, Ferrão contributed a staggering 38 goals in 41 matches spanning the regular season and title play-offs. His tally soared to over 50 goals in all competitions, over a 2018/19 campaign in which Barcelona – whose style of play revolves around their remarkable pivot – won the league, the Copa de España and the Copa del Rey. 

2. LUKAIAN Baptista (Jimbee Cartagena)

Another Brazilian pivot to be watched very closely is the latest jewel in the crown at Jimbee Cartagena FS. Lukaian returns to the LNFS at the age of 36 – having previously graced these shores in the colours of Segovía and Xota. He makes the move to Cartagena having won the Italian league and cup with Acqua e Sapone, with whom he scored 23 goals in 35 games last term – part of a total of 50 over three seasons in Italy. 

In addition to his thirst for goals and penchant for the spectacular, “La Bestia” (The Beast) will also bring experience aplenty to the LNFS, thanks to forming part of a very select band of players to have played in all six of the world’s leading futsal leagues: Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Russia, Italy and Kazakhstan.

3. Lucas Marín TRÍPODI (Aspil Jumpers Ribera Navarra)

The Argentinian international winger, now 25, has definitively taken the step forward from ‘promising’ player to established performer. Trípodi first tasted the LNFS in 2015/16 with Palma Futsal, where he played for one season before spending the following term on loan at Levante – ostensibly to continue his adaptation to the Spanish game. That process was cemented last season at Aspil Jumpers Ribera Navarra, where he enjoyed a fine campaign, with followers of the LNFS sure to remember his stunning multiple stepover and assist for David Pazos in the Navarre derby versus CA Osasuna Magna.

Not only a prolific provider, endowed with outstanding vision, Trípodi also knows where the goal is – as evidenced by 13 strikes in 32 games last season. Given his youth and rate of progression he has all the ingredients required for another decisive campaign – one in which Ribera Navarra are aiming to at least qualify for the Copa de España (Spanish Cup) by finishing in the league’s top eight at the season’s halfway point.

4. Leandro Esteban CUZZOLINO (Levante UD FS)

A member of Argentina’s 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup-winning squad, “Cuzzo” has touched down this season at Levante after playing the vast majority of his career in Italy’s Serie A. 

Snapped up from Acqua e Sapone for Levante’s new project under Diego Ríos, Cuzzolino brings with him a trophy collection that – as well as the World Cup – also includes an Italian league title, five Italian Cups, four Supercups and one UEFA Futsal Cup (for ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 in 2010/11).  

After his time at Pescara ended in April 2018 following the club’s disbanding, his 12 seasons in Serie A were brought to a close by a short spell back in Argentina at Ferrocarril Oeste. A left-footed winger or pivot, endowed with lightning speed down the flank, Cuzzo will be determined to continue to add to his impressive honours’ list. Though time will be required to adapt to the Spanish game, he is sure to prove a quality addition to the LNFS. 

5. Miquel FEIXAS (Industrias Santa Coloma)

A product of the FC Barcelona youth system, plenty of eyes will be on this 22-year-old goalkeeper this season. The youngster only made his LNFS debut last term, after joining Catalan outfit Industrias Santa Coloma, but has been nothing short of spectacular since.

Indeed, having made an impressive 19 saves on said debut versus high-flying ElPozo Murcia, his standards have not dropped – with observers believing that, given his age, Feixas can go on to scale even greater heights. A quick and agile shotstopper, good at judging when to leave his area and comfortable with the ball at his feet, he is already considered amongst that select group of keepers able to tip matches in their sides’ favour – a player with a bright future and an equally glittering present. 

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