Hector Petrasso's first-phase requisition of his Argentinian charges was not just to qualify for the quarter-finals, but to advance as Group C winners. Reflection on a 6-1 defeat by Brazil in April's final of the South American Beach Soccer World Championship accounted for his demand. Progression in first place would, the 37-year-old old correctly assumed, avoid a reunion with the all-conquering kings of the sport in the last eight at Marseille 2008.
The experts concurred that Argentina would struggle to realise this goal. The Albiceleste did their talking with their feet, however, beating Russia 5-3, United Arab Emirates 5-2 and Cameroon 3-0 to cruise into the knockout phase. Brazil were the only other team to seize maximum points from the group stage, further supporting Petrasso's order.
"Our aim was to finish top of our group and to avoid Brazil, so we're very happy to have done that," said goalkeeper Marcelo Salgueiro after their comfortable reverse of Cameroon on Tuesday. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy but we played well in all three games and deserve to be in this position. We're really happy to still be here in Marseille. The organisation is good, the stadium is nice and the pitch is perfect."
Argentina may have sidestepped the defending champions, but they must nonetheless dispose of the team that has ruled Europe so far this year to reach the semi-finals. "It won't be easy against Spain. They are one of the best teams in the world," continued Salgueiro.
"Amarelle is a great player. He can make a goal out of nothing, change the direction of a match in an instant. We will watch Spain on video to prepare for our next games. It will be tough but we're confident."
Federico Hilaire echoed his team-mate's optimism. "," said the gifted No11. We've improved with each game and now we can't wait for the quarter-final to start. We'll take one game at a time but we want to go as far as possible in this tournament."