The road to Portugal
Italy may have gone through the two group phases of the European qualifying process unbeaten, but they had to rely on penalty shootouts to win two of their games. That did not stop the Italians celebrating, however, as they reached the semi-finals and hence booked their place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2015.
In the semi-finals Italy went down 5-3 to a powerful Russian side, but the hosts had the consolation of finishing third after beating Spain 5-4 in the third place play-off.
Strengths and style
Italy’s strong point is their attack, which contrasts sharply to a somewhat vulnerable defence - contrary to Italian football stereotypes, as witnessed during the qualifying tournament for Portugal 2015. But with the Italians scoring an average of more than five goals a game, they showed they will be match for any opponent. If they can tighten up at the back they have every chance of fighting for their first World Cup.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup record
After failing to qualify for Rio de Janeiro 2005, Italy went to the next World Cup with high hopes only to end up losing all three group games. At Marseille 2008 an almost perfect showing took them all the way to the final, where they lost 5-3 to Brazil.
The Italians lost to the same side in the quarter-finals at Dubai 2009, and even greater disappointment awaited them as Beach Soccer World Cup hosts in 2011, in Ravenna. Ahead of the quarter-finals Italy were clear favourites against El Salvador, but fell to a painful 6- 5 defeat after extra time.
After failing to qualify for Tahiti 2013, Italy are now aiming to do what they have never managed before: win the Beach Soccer World Cup.