Last step to the decider
© Foto-net

Seventy-two minutes of beach soccer is set to charm the neutrals and, crucially, determine which sides will line up in the Marseille 2008 final. looks ahead to Saturday's semi-finals.

Portugal-Brazil, 17:30 (local time)
Portugal-Brazil is one of the most glamorous fixtures in beach soccer. It pits together South America's vastest country and its European motherland; the long-unbeaten reigning two-time world champions and the team to whom they last lost; the two most-prolific sides in this year's competition, and an assembly of the sport's finest exponents.

The supporters on Prado beach, and those watching live on TV, are in for treat if the last match between these rivals at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Then, in an unforgettable Rio de Janeiro 2007 quarter-final, Buru scored twice in the last 90 seconds to finally extinguish the Portuguese challenge and earn Brazil a 10-7 success.

The key
Can Alexandre Soares' side repeat their victory over Portugal without the suspended Buru and away from their own Copacabana sand?

Players to watch
Portugal's Belchior and Benjamin of Brazil have illuminated Marseille 2008 thus far. Which of these luxuriously-gifted No10s will be left celebrating a place in the final?

What they said
"It's going to be a great game. And believe me, it will be more difficult for Brazil than last year. Last year they were playing at home but we know Marseille better than them. We have enough weapons to beat Brazil. We're really confident that our determination and solidarity can make the difference," Hernani, Portugal player.

Italy-Spain, 19:00 (local time)

Italy vanquished the desire of a resonant crowd to beat France 5-2 for a place in the last four. Spain, for their part, have displayed a steadfast efficiency and in Amarelle, they have a player capable of swinging the tightest of games in their favour.

As Nico showed in their 2-0 win over Argentina in the quarter-finals, Joaquin's side has more than one match-winner. So too do Italy, with Roberto Pasquali, Simone Feudi and Paolo Palmacci in impressive form.

The key
Both Italy and Spain broke the deadlock within a minute of their respective quarter-finals, and which team assumes an early lead could be decisive to the outcome of this game.

Players to watch
Roberto Pasquali is one of the most complete players in beach soccer. Can he combine shackling Amarelle, whose genius will be central to Spain's chances, with helping to orchestrate Italian attacks?

What they said
Overcoming the hosts was never going to be easy, but we're shown our strength. Now we have to beat another great side in Spain. It won't be easy but we believe we're at the top of our game and we're confident we will reach the final," Paolo Palmacci, Italy player.