Portugal
© Getty Images

The past
Though Brazil have been considered the planet’s finest beach soccer side for years now, in pure talent terms Portugal are not far behind. Indeed, it was the Portuguese who inflicted Brazil’s only defeat in FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup history, when sinking A Seleção at the semi-final stage of the inaugural 2005 tournament. In 2001 Madjer, Alan, Hernani and Co also became the only side apart from Brazil to win the competition’s predecessor, the Beach Soccer World Championship, with A Verde e Amarelo taking the title at the nine other editions.

Yet it could be said that, given the quality at their disposal, the Lusitanians have somewhat underachieved at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Without a final appearance since finishing runners-up to France in 2005, Portugal did pick up credible third-place podium places at Marseille 2008 and Dubai 2009.

The present
Portugal boast a lethal combination of talent and vast international tournament experience in the trio of Madjer, Alan and Belchior. Euro Beach Soccer League champions in 2010 and runners-up at European qualifying for Ravenna/Italy 2011 – where they were beaten 4-2 by Ukraine in the final – coach Ze Miguel’s charges are definitively among the contenders for this year’s global crown.

The future
Though their outrageous talent means that Madjer and Alan remain indispensable to the cause, the Portuguese set-up are well aware that they cannot go on forever. With one eye on the future, an effort has been made to start blooding younger players such as Rui Coimbra and 20-year-old attacker Jordan.

Former stars
Hernani, Rodrigues

Key players
Madjer, Alan, Belchior

Qualifying statistics
After racking up six consecutive victories at the European qualifying tournament in Bibione, Italy, the Portuguese went down to a very strong Ukraine side 4-2 in the final.

The numbers game
7 - The incredible number of individual awards Madjer has claimed spanning five editions of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. They are three adidas Golden Boots (2005, 2006 and 2008), two adidas Golden Balls (2005 and 2006) and two adidas Silver Balls (2007 and 2009).