Historically one of the pioneers of the sport, Italy have gone from strength to strength in recent FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups. After disappointing campaigns in 2006 and 2007 when they fell at the first hurdle, Gli Azzurri charged all the way to the final of Marseille 2008, their run halted only by titans Brazil. A creditable last-eight finish followed in Dubai the year after, when A Seleção once again proved an impassable obstacle for the boys in blue.
Despite qualifying automatically as hosts of Ravenna/Italy 2011, La Nazionale still took part in the UEFA qualifying tournament from 11 to 18 July 2010, which was also held on native territory in Bibione. Defeat by Poland in the round of 16 has done nothing to temper the optimism of Azzurri coach Massimiliano Esposito, who remains confident that with home advantage his players are among the contenders for the global crown.
Since taking the reins in 2010, Massimiliano Esposito has opted for evolution rather than revolution by rejuvenating the side that impressed at Dubai 2009. Despite the absence of forward Pasquale Carotenuto, the team’s driving force in previous editions, the new-look roster retains a core of established campaigners including goalkeeper Simone Del Mestre, defender Michele Leghissa, midfield general and team captain Simone Feudi, and proven goal-getter Paolo Palmacci. All eyes will be on emerging front-runner Giacomo Maria Valenti, as well as on Giuseppe Soria, whose club form this season has earned the seasoned sharpshooter a recall to the Azzurri squad.
Maurizio Galli, Massimiliano Esposito, Roberto Pasquali
Simone Del Mestre, Michele Leghissa, Simone Feudi, Paolo Palmacci
As hosts Italy qualified automatically for Ravenna 2011. Nevertheless the team took part in the UEFA qualifying tournament, reaching the last 16 where they lost 4-3 to Poland. Gli Azzurri won both of their group games prior to that defeat, 2-1 against Turkey and 5-2 against Germany.
The numbers game
5 - The number of times that La Nazionale have qualified for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.