With a place in the final of Tahiti 2013 at stake, Spain and Brazil are braced for their first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup meeting since 2008. FIFA.com sets the scene for what promises to be a thriller.
Spain-Brazil, Friday 27 September, semi-finals 20:30 (local time)
The retirement of the great Amarelle left a big question mark hanging over Spain as they went into Tahiti 2013. But Joaquin Alonso’s team have quieted the doubters, however, keeping their cool thus far as they have bested each side they have faced. Tested on every outing, the Spanish have come up with the answers on both an individual and team level, which is no small achievement against rivals as diverse as the tournament hosts and El Salvador.
Meanwhile, Brazil arrived in Tahiti as one of the big favourites and have done everything possible to justify that status. The tournament’s leading scorer with eight goals, Bruno Xavier has become their spearhead, while coach Junior Negao seems to have a very clear idea of what his best side is. While still committed to their one-touch style and to keeping the ball off the sand, the Brazilians have also shown they can dig deep and battle as hard as anyone when the situation demands.
Player to watch
The 30-year-old pivot has proved himself to be a valuable all-round performer at Tahiti 2013, chipping in with four goals and two assists, statistics that show him to be a genuine threat to opposing defences. One of five survivors from the side that lost to Brazil at Marseille 2008, he will be keen to set the record straight.
36 - The South Americans have a very clear advantage in the 36 previous meetings between the teams on sand: winning 33, drawing one and losing just two, the last of those defeats in a friendly in 2000. The two have faced off in the Beach Soccer World Cup twice before, both times in the group phase. Brazil won 4-1 in 2005 and 3-2 in 2008, when the Europeans finished fourth. Their most recent encounter came in May this year, when A Canarinha beat La Roja 3-2 at Playa del Carmen.
“We’re not scared of anyone. If we’ve got this far, it’s because we’ve prepared well. The important thing is to keep on playing our game and not worry about who our opponents are,” Brazil wing Bruno Xavier.
“We’re up against Brazil, but that won’t stop us from trying to take the initiative. They’ve got a lot as a team but we’re confident about our game right now. I don’t see why we need to change now or take any extra precautions,” Spain wing Llorenc.