The road to Portugal
The two-time world champions did not have an especially easy task booking their place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup despite winning all their qualifying games. In the first group phase of the tournament in Italy the Russians beat Belarus and Turkey, and went on to win against Romania, Germany and Greece in the next phase. The eastern Europeans may have only conceded twice, but their attack largely misfired, scoring just ten goals. Italy gave the Russians a fright in the semi-final, finally going down 5-3, and Switzerland almost caused a surprise before Russian came out on top 6-5.
Strengths and style
Only two nations have managed to break Brazil’s stranglehold of the Beach Soccer World Cup since it has been organised by FIFA, and only Russia have done so twice, winning the last two tournaments held in Italy and Tahiti, beating Brazil and Spain in the respective finals.
Experience and composure in high-pressure situations are two of Russia’s biggest assets, and at Portugal 2015 the side will again be filled with players who have seen and done it all at this level. A third successive World Cup triumph is the goal.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup record
After failing to qualify for the first two FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups in 2005 and 2006, Russia made their debut in 2007, but crashed out at the group stage after winning just one of their three games. The following year saw a better performance, with the Russians reaching the quarter-finals, where they were beaten by eventual winners Brazil.
At Dubai 2009 history repeated itself, but this time it was Switzerland who ended Russia’s aspirations in the first knockout round. Ravena 2011 witnessed the team’s first success thanks to a spectacular 12-8 victory over Brazil. Two years later and they did it again, this at the expense of Spain in the final in Tahiti.