Ukraine will be hoping for better luck in the second round of games in Group D on Sunday, having pushed Brazil all the way to penalties in their first match. The eastern Europeans now face the task of picking themselves up from their shoot-out defeat when they take on Japan, while the fortunate Brazilians square off against Mexico.
Having confirmed their status as one of the title favourites with a handsome victory over Nigeria, Group C frontrunners Russia now move on to a meeting with tournament newcomers Tahiti, who also kicked off with a win over fellow debutants Venezuela.
FIFA.com looks ahead to Sunday’s four games at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011.
Game of the day
Brazil-Mexico, Group D, 18:30 (local time)
Mexico go into this appetising tie as group leaders, a point clear of the four-time champions, who will be hoping to raise their game after narrowly scraping past the Ukrainians. The two sides met in the 2007 final, with the Brazilians romping to an 8-2 win on home sand.
The day’s opening game pits Japan against Ukraine, who now have expectations to fulfil after their stirring display against the Brazilians. “It’s great to put in a performance like that,” said pivot Andrey Yevdokymov, commenting on Friday’s unlucky defeat. “That’s the type of game we want to play, though it hurt all the same to come away with nothing.”
Euro Beach Soccer League champions Russia are widely tipped to take the points when they cross swords with Tahiti in the day’s big game in Group C. Though still euphoric after dispatching Venezuela in their maiden FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup appearance, the Tahitians know the scale of the task awaiting them against the mighty Russians.
The Oceania champions’ final game will be against Nigeria, who need to take something from their encounter with Venezuela. The Beach Eagles crumpled against Russia on Matchday 1 and cannot expect an easy assignment against the South Americans, who are anxious to collect their first ever points in the competition.
Player to watch
Egor Shaykov (RUS)
A vital cog in the well-oiled Russian machine, the forward turned in a storming display in his side’s 8-4 defeat of Nigeria, scoring two goals, one of them a magnificent volley.
29 - The number of FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup games Benjamin has played in, a record for the competition. The scorer of Brazil’s first goal against Ukraine and the provider of their other two, both scored by Sidney, Benjamin has made one more appearance in the competition than team-mate Betinho and the Portuguese duo of Alan and Madjer.
“We never had any doubt that this group would come down to little details. There’s no respite here and now we’re playing for our lives in a very tough match, with our final game, against Brazil no less, coming up straight after,” Japan coach Rui Ramos discusses his side’s demanding schedule.
What’s next? (all times are local)
Venezuela-Nigeria (17:00 )