The road to Bahamas
Italy went unbeaten in the two group phases of the European qualifiers, held on home sand, scoring 34 goals in the process and conceding 19. In the semi-final, and with their place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017 already secure, the hosts played out a 2-2 draw with eventual champions Poland in normal time before going down to a Piotr Klepczarek strike in extra time. The Italians then missed out on third place, losing 8-3 to Portugal.
Strengths and style
Italy’s main virtues lie in attack, with Gabriele Gori leading the way in the European qualifiers with 19 goals, a tally bettered only by Switzerland’s Dejan Stankovic. Though the Azzurra shipped 31 goals in the competition, their understanding at the other end of the pitch makes them a threat to anyone and contenders for what would be their first-ever beach soccer world title.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup record
After missing out on a place at Rio de Janeiro 2005, Italy went to Brazil the following year with hopes high, only to fall at the first hurdle after losing all three of their group matches. Their performance at Marseille 2008 was near perfect, as they advanced to the final before losing 5-3 to Brazil, who ended their hopes again at Dubai 2009, this time in the quarter-finals. The Italians went out at the same stage on hosting the tournament in Ravenna two years later, when El Salvador were their conquerors. After failing to qualify for Tahiti 2013, the Azzurra returned to the global stage at Portugal 2015, where they advanced to the last four. Beaten by Tahiti in the semis, they then went down to Russia in the match for third place.