The dust has finally settled on the quarter-final duel between France and Italy at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Marseille 2008, and the Stade du Prado now seems despairingly empty. Yet even after the fans have drifted away from the Gaston-Defferre beaches, Azzurri star Simone Feudi was delighted to give their verdict on this memorable match.
"Our performance was almost perfect. We concentrated really hard on this match so that we could be certain of achieving what we set out to do," Feudi told FIFA.com. "In our opinion, France were one of the tournament favourites. It's an honour to have managed to beat this great team at home and we're very proud of what we have just achieved. "
And though he is too modest to say so, the Italy No5 is well aware that his two fine goals played a big part in securing Italy a place in the last four. "I am delighted to have contributed to our victory but, at the risk of sounding clichéd, the important thing is that we won, not my own personal performance. We were determined to get through to the next round," he added.
By knocking out Les Bleus, Italy know they have just gone down in history. Two days after reaching their first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup quarter-final, coach Giancarlo Magrini's men have done one better by reaching the semi-finals.
Indeed, this Italian team appears to have made giant strides. In addition to the dynamism of Feudi and Pasquali, Massimiliano Esposito and Paolo Palmacci are a formidable attacking pair, while goalkeeper Stefano Spada offers a safe pair of hands.
"The team is growing stronger every day," said Feudi, who has four goals and an assist to his name already. "We came here with several younger players who lacked experience. They were gradually mixed in with the older players, and you can see the results on the pitch. ."
This certainly bodes well for their semi-final showdown against Spain, though it is uncharted territory for both teams. Neither has reached this stage of the showpiece competition before, and the two sides have never previously faced each other on sand.
"Spain will certainly be full of confidence. They've just beaten Argentina, a team which I'd backed strongly for an easy win," Feudi admitted. "They have a very complete team, a bit like us, with a mixture of very experienced players and talented youngsters. It's going to be an exciting semi-final, and we will do everything we can to make sure it goes our way."