The 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup culminates with a final between Russia and Spain, the title-holders against a rising force. Meanwhile, the match for third place is an intriguing affair with traditional power Brazil tackling New World surprise packets Tahiti.
The 2013 champion is likely to be decided by a slim margin with both teams playing with pragmatism at times and rarely dominating an opponent during the tournament. Russia are of course reigning champions and their experience is sure to be invaluable in the adrenalin-fuelled atmosphere of a World Cup final. They have, however, been pushed all the way in virtually every match and a gruelling encounter with Tahiti will surely take its toll. So too, Yury Gorchinskiy and captain Ilya Leonov are likely to be absent with injury. On the plus side, they have consistency proven themselves to be a team that knows how to win.
Spain for their part are highly organised and difficult to break down. They too have shown their resolve over the past two outings by coming from behind to beat traditional sand-kings Brazil and also overcoming the momentum held by home-town heroes Tahiti. They appear to have the weaponry needed to overcome a tiring Russia in what could be a low-scoring encounter.
The other highlight
Brazil will face Tahiti with third place on the line in a match featuring two nations with vastly contrasting histories in the game. Brazil, representing the spiritual home of beach soccer, go into the contest only 24 hours after experiencing the bitter taste of missing their first final for eight years. Tahiti too must bounce back from disappointment, but they will be boosted by the return of two key players from suspension in Heimanu Taiarui and Raimana Li Fung Kuee.
Player to watch
Dmitrii Shishin is Russia’s go-to player when they need inspiration. And the No6 has more than delivered in this his fifth World Cup. He moved narrowly clear at the top of the goalscorers chart in the final minutes of the semi-final win over Tahiti with a contender for goal of the tournament.
0 - The number of previous finals played by Spain in the Beach Soccer World Cup
"By winning the World Cup two years ago, we're more experienced. Now we have such a connection between the players, everyone understands each other so we are in good form." Russia’s Dmitrii Shishin