The second round of matches in Groups C and D of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 promise, for the most part, to be both tight and highly charged. The only side who look clear favourites to win their game are two-time defending champions Russia, who take on debutants Madagascar. Judging by the African side’s performance in their opening game, however, the Russians would be well advised not to be overconfident.
FIFA.com previews that match and the other three on the schedule on day four of the competition.
Match of the day
Iran-Brazil, 17:30 local time
Having kicked off their tournament with a show of individual might against a young Mexico side, Brazil will need to raise their game if they are to enjoy further success against the awkward Iranians, who stunned Spain in their group opener.
As the Asians showed in that game, they can cause anyone problems with their gritty style and lethal finishing, qualities they will be relying on when they face the four-time world champions. While the South Americans got the better of the Iranians in their meeting at Tahiti 2013, Team Melli got their revenge at this year’s Intercontinental Cup, beating the Brazilians on penalties.
The other matches
Staying in Group C, Spain and Mexico square off with plenty at stake following their first-day slip-ups. La Roja turned in a decent performance against Iran but were made to pay dear for their mistakes, which they will hope to have learned from. For their part, El Tri were overrun by Brazil and will be tempted to reshuffle their pack as they bid to stay in contention.
After surviving a stern examination from Paraguay on the opening matchday in Group D, Russia will be hoping for a much less strenuous afternoon against tournament first-timers Madagascar. While the Africans gave a good account of themselves on their debut outing, the holders are clear favourites to win and check into the knockout phase with a game to spare.
In the day’s other game in the section, Tahiti and Paraguay meet in what promises to be a fascinating duel, with the technically gifted and nimble Oceanic side pitting their wits against the tactical, direct play of the South Americans. With the Tahitians three points to the good, the onus is very much on the Paraguayans to take something from this game.
Player to watch
Raimana Li Fung Kuee (TAH)
In running out against Madagascar, the 30-year-old wing showed just a few flashes of the quality that earned him the adidas Bronze Ball on home sand two years ago. There can be no doubting Li Fung Kuee’s all-round talent, however, and the Tiki Toa will be looking to him to show more of it against a combative Paraguay side.
7 - the number of times Mexico and Spain have faced off on the sand in official competitions. The Mexicans have the edge with four wins, having scored 28 goals to Spain’s 21. As far as World Cup matches are concerned, both sides have recorded a win apiece against each other.
“We’re expecting a very tactical and physical game against Tahiti. We’ll need to attack the whole time and keep a close eye on them in defence,” Ivan Fernandez, Paraguay goalkeeper.