The final matchday in Groups C and D of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 features the latest instalments in what have become two classic rivalries, with Brazil taking on Spain and Russia meeting Tahiti, a repeat of the semi-final line-up at the last world finals two years ago.
FIFA.com sets the scene for the last day of the group phase at Portugal 2015.
Match of the day
Brazil-Spain, 17:30 local time
Regardless of the result in the earlier match between Iran and Mexico, this is nothing short of a final for both sides. While they will know exactly what they have to do to progress to the next round, neither team is likely to hold anything back for what promises to be a high-quality exhibition of beach soccer, one that will provide a contrast between Brazil’s individual skills and Spain’s tactical discipline.
The other matches
Iran are on the verge of reaching the quarter-finals for the second time running, though to get there they will need to beat Mexico by as wide a margin as possible and then wait. They could still advance in the event of a narrow defeat, though such an outcome would open the door for Spain. The Mexicans have an altogether harder route to the last eight. Even if they record a comprehensive win over the Iranians, they will still need to wait to see what happens later.
Russia and Tahiti are already through but both have their sights set on top spot in Group D. The two sides gave differing accounts of themselves in their previous outings, with the Russians having to dig deep to beat debutants Madagascar, while the Tahitians were in sparkling form against a hard-working Paraguay side. The Europeans have won the two previous world-finals meetings between the sides, winning 5-0 in the group phase at Ravenna 2011 and then 5-3 in the semi-finals at Tahiti 2013.
Player to watch
Alexey Makarov (RUS)
A veteran of six FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, Makarov is one of the old hands of the Russia squad. Still only 28, the ever-reliable wide man has yet to find the back of the net at Portugal 2015, though he has a habit doing so against the Tahitians, having been the only Russian to score against them at both Ravenna 2011 and Tahiti 2013, helping himself to a brace in the second of those games.
42 - The number of times that Brazil and Spain have met in competitive matches, all of which makes this one of beach soccer’s classic fixtures. While the Brazilians have a clear edge in the head-to-head with 37 wins, it was La Roja who prevailed in their last encounter, triumphing 2-1 after extra time in the semi-finals at Tahiti 2013.
“We’re still in with a chance. The idea is to show the same attitude as we have up to now, but without making so many mistakes. Iran are a tough side and their players can shoot on target from any angle, which makes them dangerous opponents. We need to be at our very best to beat them,” Ramon Maldonado, Mexico pivot.