The road to Portugal
Spain did not have an easy qualifying passage to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015. After breezing through the first group stage, clocking up three victories in as many games, the second phase proved a far more difficult task as they scraped through a group that included Ukraine.
After beating France and Turkey in tight matches, it all came down the encounter with the Ukrainians, which ended all square at 3-3. A penalty shoot-out ensued, which Spain took 4-3 to book their place in the semi-finals, where they would lose to Switzerland in extra time.
Strengths and style
Spain is a perfect example of how a team can combine experienced heads with up-and-coming talent. Amarelle is one of beach soccer’s biggest names, and commands respect as the team’s captain.
He won the adidas Golden Ball at the 2008 World Cup, when he was also the second top goalscorer at the tournament. He may have lost his speed of yesteryear, but he remains an inspiration for the whole team and personifies the grit and determination the Spaniards show on the sand every Beach Soccer World Cup. This attitude helps explain why Spain have only missed one World Cup since FIFA took over the organisation of the event.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup record
Spain reached the quarter-finals on their debut in 2005, when they lost to France 7-4. The following year they failed to make it out of the group stage, finishing third behind France and Canada. In 2007 La Roja topped a group that included Portugal, but again fell at the quarter-final stage, this time beaten by Mexico.
Marseille 2008 marked Spain’s first semi-final appearance, but Italy was a bridge too far and the Iberians ended up losing the play-off for third place to Portugal. At Dubai 2009 Spain were defeated in the quarter-finals by Uruguay and only returned to the tournament four years later. The wait proved worthwhile, however, as the Spanish reached the final for the first time after knocking out El Salvador and favourites Brazil. There was to be no fairytale finish, though, with Russia running out comfortable 5-1 winners in the decider.