Russia seek to reprise 2011 form in Tahiti

The remote Pacific Ocean nation of Tahiti is a long way in every sense from Ravenna on Italy’s Adriatic coastline. Yet Russia, upset champions at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011, will next year be aiming to make light of that contrasting backdrop and continue their new-found success, as the Polynesian nation hosts the world’s best round ball exponents on sand.

Exactly one year out from the 2013 edition of the tournament in Tahiti, FIFA.com takes a brief look back at the events which transpired on the sands of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region last year.

Ravenna 2011 could well mark a watershed for Beach Soccer with Brazil, the long-term undisputed kings of the sand, usurped from their status as world champions. Such was Brazil’s dominance that the South Americans had gone six years and 30 games since suffering defeat, winning four successive titles, with France winners of the inaugural crown in 2005.

However, on the back of some stunning teamwork, a well-oiled Russia were deserving 12-8 winners in the Ravenna finale. “It’s incredible how tactical the game’s become,” said Brazil coach Alexandre Soares in reference to Russia’s triumph and the rapidly changing face of the game on the sand.

A Seleção will be aiming to regain their crown at Tahiti 2013, but they will likely face numerous strong challengers from a variety of backgrounds. They will, however, have one less familiar foe to deal with as Portugal, who last year finished in third-place, failed to qualify from a tough European preliminary competition.

The other semi-finalist at Ravenna 2011 proved that football on the sand lends itself to upset results and surprise winning streaks. El Salvador had lost all their previous matches at the two previous editions of the competition, only to then somehow find form and win through to the semi-finals.

Another outsider to impress were debutants Tahiti who claimed their maiden win on the world stage, and undoubtedly that experience will be beneficial as the hosts seek to impress on home sand this time next year.